LA Lakers rumors: Can Talen Horton-Tucker be in the starting 5 on his return in the 2021-22 NBA season?

Could Talen Horton-Tucker eventually start for the Los Angeles Lakers?
Could Talen Horton-Tucker eventually start for the Los Angeles Lakers?
Tyler Rucker

The Los Angeles Lakers have been generating some serious buzz throughout the NBA offseason and training camp. With the 2021-22 NBA season starting this week, it's no surprise that the Lakers have become the talk of the basketball world again. With a roster that features the likes of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and newcomer Russell Westbrook, there's going to be plenty of star power in Los Angeles. But there's also a different name who has been creating some hype when it comes to the Lakers.

That name is Talen-Horton Tucker, a versatile wing that is entering his third year in the NBA. Since last year, the buzz around Horton-Tucker has continued to intrigue fans and members of the Lakers organization. After being the 46th overall selection in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Lakers stressed patience when it came to the development of the former Iowa State product. One of the reasons was the fact that Talen Horton-Tucker was one of the youngest players in his draft class. Fast forward to training camp this year, and there was some serious belief that the 20-year-old wing could become an important part of this Lakers rotation. The front office knew this could become a possibility this offseason, as the organization invested in the future of Horton-Tucker, rewarding him with a three-year, $30.8 million deal. Zach Lowe of ESPN recently went on to discuss the idea that the Lakers coaches have discussed the idea of Horton-Tucker starting.

But he is by far the most important young player on an old team; the Lakers signaled as much by re-signing Horton-Tucker to a three-year, $30.8 million deal, effectively choosing him over Alex Caruso, and coaches discussed the possibility of starting Horton-Tucker this season, sources say.

Should Talen Horton-Tucker Start for the Lakers?

It could be a big year for Talen-Horton Tucker with the Lakers
It could be a big year for Talen-Horton Tucker with the Lakers

With the amount of firepower that the Lakers have on the offensive side of the ball, they are going to need some versatility as well. Many are going to point out that the Los Angeles Lakers are going to need to worry about the age of the roster this year. It's the worst kept secret in the NBA, as the Lakers have a roster filled with a number of players who are getting up there when it comes to years in the NBA and injury concerns. The idea of Talen Horton-Tucker stepping in as a starter is an intriguing one. The problem is that age isn't the only thing the Lakers need to worry about as they also need to find a way to be a stronger shooting unit.

That plays into a big part in Talen Horton-Tucker's game as well. The 20-year-old wing is a strong offensive weapon who understands how to play within a system and make plays for his teammates. He's an intelligent player who knows where he should be on both sides of the floor. The weakness to his game over the course of his young career has been a similar weakness for this Lakers team. During the 2020-21 season, Talen Horton-Tucker went on to average 9.0 points per game in just 20.1 minutes. During that time, he went on to shoot 28.2% from downtown. There's a world in which Horton-Tucker could become an intriguing asset in the starting lineup, but his outside shooting would need to come along in order to give this team some more spacing in order to be more effective.

The other problem that Talen Horton-Tucker is dealing with is an injury of his own. It was previously announced that THT would require surgery on his right thumb and will be re-evaluated in approximately four weeks.

The Lakers say the surgery on Talen Horton-Tucker’s right thumb was successful and he will be re-evaluated in approximately four weeks.

Time will tell what direction the Lakers will want to go in when it comes to the talented upside that Horton-Tucker has. With a young player who is beginning to build some serious confidence, it could be a bit of a breakout season for the third-year wing. If he can continue to develop his outside shot at a more consistent level, then the Lakers could look to make Horton-Tucker a part of their starting lineup moving forward.

Edited by Arnav

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