Lakers' Talen Horton-Tucker Looks Poised For A Breakout Year

Ernesto Cova

The Los Angeles Lakers have struggled to find their best shape this season.

Frank Vogel's side went through a major roster overhaul during the NBA offseason, highlighted by the addition of former MVP Russell Westbrook.

Nonetheless, injuries prevented the purple-and-gold from unleashing their full lineup during the preseason, an issue they continue to carry to this day.

Notably, that has also opened up the door for a young player who might as well turn out to be a much-needed X-Factor for them: Talen Horton-Tucker.

Offseason Workout Paying Off For THT

Talen Horton-Tucker | Instagram

The third-year guard missed the first part of the season with a hand injury but has been nothing short of spectacular in three games back.

Averaging 23.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game thus far, THT credits the offseason workouts for his improved shooting stroke:

“I just wanted to come in and trust my work, the work that I put in in the summertime," Horton-Tucker told Lakers Nation. "So just being able to come in and get an opportunity to play has been good.”

Horton-Tucker Feels More Comfortable Now

Talen Horton-Tucker | Instagram

THT is knocking down 49% of his shots and 40% of his three-point attempts, much better than the 29.9% he's shot for his career.

The game is finally starting to slow down for him. And he feels like soaking in that experience now that the Lakers need him to play an extended role will only help him develop his game even faster

_“I feel like you only get better with experience. I still don’t think I’ve played 82 games in the NBA period yet,” the 20-year-old said. “So I feel like I’m just getting better with time. Everything, like Coach says, is starting to slow down a little bit more, make easier reads and things like that. I feel like it’s only the start.”

Frank Vogel Lauds THT

Talen Horton-Tucker | Instagram

Coach Frank Vogel has been very pleased with THT's contributions thus far and vaticinated that he'll have a big role for the team this season even when they're back at full strength:

“He’s gonna be a big part of what we do, we know that,” Vogel said, per Silver Screen & Roll. “We invested in him this summer for a reason: We’ve got a strong belief in that young man and what he can do on both sides of the ball. And obviously, when we get whole, we’ve got a lot of good choices, but he’s going to be a big part of it.”

The Lakers held on to Horton-Tucker during the summer and killed a trade for Kyle Lowry last year because they think he can be a dominant scorer and a star in the near future.

Lakers Need A Spark

So, even if the shooting and scoring could be unsustainable for THT throughout the season, the purple-and-gold are desperately craving a spark.

The Lakers are just 8-8 for the season and Vogel's seat could get pretty hot if they don't turn things around soon.

They have the 7th-worst Net Rating in the league at -2.8 and the 6th-worst Offensive Rating at 104.9 points scored per 100 possessions.

LeBron James is expected to come back soon from his abdominal injury but a 37-year-old can only do so much, even if it's LeBron we're talking about.

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