It’s time to grade the lone selection for the Los Angeles Lakers as they attempt to fill out their roster with inexpensive young talent through the 2019 NBA Draft.
The Los Angeles Lakers were happy to end the first round without a draft pick. For the Lakers, their 2019 NBA Draft will be defined by a player that was selected by the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012: Anthony Davis. Of course, the Lakers acquired Davis in a blockbuster trade over the weekend, and were more than content sitting back with their superstar prize.
With that being said, the Lakers entered the draft feeling the need to gather a player without the baggage of a guaranteed salary slot. To accomplish this, the Lakers had to purchase a second round pick.
In the past, the Lakers have profited by drafting later on in the draft with success stories coming from the likes of Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart. The jury is still out on Isaac Bonga and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (now of the Detroit Pistons), whom the Lakers acquired during last year’s draft night.
This year, the Lakers bought a second round pick from the Orlando Magic to select 46th overall. With that selection, the Lakers drafted forward Talen Horton-Tucker out of Iowa State. In addition to cash considerations, The Athletic‘s Shams Charania reports that a future pick will be headed to Orlando.
The Lakers couldn’t move high enough into the second round to draft center Bol Bol, but they selected the versatile Horton-Tucker to provide depth on the wing. The Illinois native and former Simeon athlete averaged 11.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.7 blocks per game on 40.6 percent shooting from the field and 30.8 percent from beyond the arc in his only season at Iowa State.
While Horton-Tucker struggled with his shot as a Cyclone, he suggested that his shooting is better than his porous college numbers would indicate, per Mike Trudell of Spectrum SportsNet.
"“Teams were saying they know I’m a better shooter [than that],” he said. “Just staying consistent in the gym and getting better … that’s been the key focus for me in the pre-draft process. I feel like I did that.”"
With that said, the shooting concerns are still noteworthy on a team centered around LeBron James. As was clearly evident last year, James-led teams need outside shooting and this move only places more pressure to fulfill that need during free agency.
Even still, Horton-Tucker’s 7’1” wingspan provides support for his potential versatility as a defender. This lengthy reach helps make up for the fact that Horton-Tucker is an undersized wing at 6’4”.
Interestingly enough, Horton-Tucker had not met with the Lakers at the combine, nor did he workout for the club, according to The Athletic’s Bill Oram.
However, the Lakers will have familiarity dealing with Horton-Tucker’s agency, Klutch Sports. The relationship between the Lakers and Klutch will surely continue to raise eyebrows as another one of their clients will soon don the purple and gold.
While the Lakers need to fill out their roster in any way they can, it’s prudent to wonder if they may have been better off going with a more established prospect. After all, the Lakers are placing a heavy bet on the next three years by sending out multiple future draft picks and pick swaps to the Pelicans in the Davis deal.
Horton-Tucker being only 18 years of age is a comforting attribute for his chances of developing a consistent jump shot, but that timeline may not be appropriate for this veteran Lakers core.
Nonetheless, it is difficult to find real value towards the end of the second round, and the Lakers seem to have found a prospect with legitimate upside. Los Angeles is hoping that Horton-Tucker’s jump shot and conditioning rapidly flourish to run course with the framework of its current roster.