The Lakers did not have a selection entering the 2019 NBA draft, trading their only selection, #4 overall, to the Pelicans as part of the trove of assets surrendered for Anthony Davis. Still, there was hope the team might be able to purchase a 2nd round pick before the night was over and that’s exactly what happened when the team “traded” a future 2nd round pick of their own along with cash to the Orlando Magic for the #46 pick.
With that pick, the Lakers selected Iowa State Guard, Talen Horton-Tucker. At Iowa State, Horton-Tucker averaged 11.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game.
One of the more unique players in the draft, THT is a 6’4″ guard who has a 7’1″ wingspan and weighs 238 pounds. In other words, he’s a guard who’s built like Clarence Weatherspoon. When you peruse his draft profiles, the NBA player comps almost all say “no one”. He’s also still only 18 years old and won’t be 19 until November, making him one of the youngest players in the draft.
As a player, Horton-Tucker offers a diverse game where he shows potential to do many things well, but nothing great…yet. Per the draft experts, a list of his strengths include individual shot creation, transition ability, some good passing feel, and defensive potential due to his physical frame. His weaknesses include shot selection, consistency as a shooter, a slower release on his jumper, and his overall quickness.
From my vantage point, Horton-Tucker is a longterm play on potential due to his age and unique physical profile. He has real potential as a defender who could guard any of the 3 perimeter positions and, potentially, even play some small-ball PF with his length and wide frame. Offensively, his upside comes mostly on the strength of his already established transition ability, his real guard skills that combine with his physical profile, and a potential to improve as a shooter.
Will it all come together? Who knows. But there are a few draft-nik people who I read who absolutely love him as a high upside player who’s simply so unique that the possibilities for what he can be seem endless. Having a guy like that in-house, even if just to get him in better shaped and to send him to the G-League to get lots of reps seems like a gamble worth taking at #46. In other words, I’m with it.