Talen Horton-Tucker Could Be A Part Of The Jazz’s Future

Talen Horton-Tucker #5 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles past the defense of Aaron Gordon #50 of the Denver Nuggets during the second half of a game at Arena on April 03, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)


On Thursday, the Utah Jazz finalized a trade that sent veteran guard Patrick Beverley to the Los Angeles Lakers for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson.

This may turn out to be one of those trades that help both teams involved.

While the Lakers badly needed a proven 3-and-D role player such as Beverley, Utah is getting two young players they can develop moving forward.

After trading All-Star center Rudy Gobert earlier this summer, the Jazz appeared to be entering a rebuilding phase, especially since fellow All-Star Donovan Mitchell, their best player, has been the subject of many trade rumors.

Even if Mitchell sticks around, Horton-Tucker is a guard with upside who could help the Jazz stay competitive.


Horton-Tucker Has The Potential To Become A Good Player

When a team like the Jazz is starting a rebuilding project, it needs to accumulate as many assets as possible.

Executive Danny Ainge is certainly doing that, as he acquired several future first-round draft picks for Gobert, as well as Malik Beasley, a young and viable complementary player.

Horton-Tucker also falls in that same category, although not too long ago, no one ever expected him to do so.

He played one season at Iowa State University, and he didn’t exactly set the nation on fire, as he averaged just 11.8 points per game on 40.6 percent shooting.

The Orlando Magic used the 46th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft on Horton-Tucker, only to send his rights to the Lakers.

As a rookie, he got very little playing time until the Walt Disney World Resort bubble, where head coach Frank Vogel put him on the court during a few of the team’s seeding games.

In four such contests, Horton-Tucker averaged 8.5 points in 19.0 minutes per game while shooting 48.3 percent from the field, and he started to show that he had a particular talent – the ability to get to the rim off the dribble and finish at the rim.

The next season, he appeared in 65 contests, averaging 9.0 points in 20.1 minutes a game, leading many to feel he had the potential to become a very good player.

But this past season, he showed no improvement.

Horton-Tucker, as of now, is a poor perimeter shooter, has trouble going to his left and also suffers from some tunnel vision when looking to penetrate and score.

But he has shown flashes of being able to set up teammates at a decent level.


What Could Horton-Tucker’s Ceiling Look Like?

The biggest key for Horton-Tucker appears to be developing a perimeter shot that is, at a minimum, no worse than the league average.

That would mean shooting at least about 35 percent from 3-point range and getting into the mid-40s in terms of overall shooting percentage.

If he gets there, he could easily average at least 15 points per game, as long as he gets at least 25-28 minutes of playing time a game.

He could team with Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson to give the Jazz a potent three-guard setup that can cause issues for opposing defenses.

On the Lakers, Horton-Tucker languished to a certain extent because LeBron James and Russell Westbrook are both high-usage players who control the ball a ton, which forced him to play off the ball, not exactly a strength of his.

New Utah head coach Will Hardy will have to design an offense that allows Horton-Tucker, Mitchell and Clarkson to thrive together, even though all three aren’t great off-the-ball players.

But away from the imposing shadows of James and Westbrook, Horton-Tucker just may have the opportunity to blossom and become his best self.

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