Talen Horton-Tucker has embodied the Lakers’ “next man up” mentality this season.
Going into the regular season, the Lakers’ guard rotation seemed like the area on the team that had the most potential to change, and through 21 games, that’s held true thanks in large part to the emergence of Talen Horton-Tucker.
While Horton-Tucker hasn’t averaged over 20 points per game like he did in the preseason, he’s made the most of the limited opportunities he’s gotten in the regular season. So much so that, on Thursday when the Lakers visited the Boston Celtics, Horton-Tucker played 22:59 off of the bench while Wesley Matthews watched from the bench. It was only Matthews’ second DNP-CD of the season, and his first non-injury related DNP-CD.
It’s unlikely that this change will be permanent, and Frank Vogel said as much after the game on Thursday, but that uncertainty doesn’t bother Horton-Tucker. In fact, it’s something that he’s learned to to expect in his second year in the NBA.
“I just try to stay ready throughout everything,” Horton-Tucker said. “Not kind of knowing what role I’ll play when the game starts is kind of hard, so it’s just being able to stay ready and just come in and do what I do is good.”
Horton-Tucker didn’t have his strongest outing for the Lakers on Thursday, posting a -4.4 net rating in the time he was on the floor, but he did give his team the jolt of energy they needed in the fourth quarter. Those opportunities may not always be there for Horton-Tucker, but when they are, he’s confident he’ll be able to contribute in a meaningful way.
“With basketball being how it is, I expect to come in every game and try to be like that,” Horton-Tucker said. “But you know it’s not going to be like that every game. So my goal is to come in and do kind of what I did today. Just anything to help us win.”