If you want to measure someone's success, one of the first things you do is look at their numbers. In 2020, one of the numbers we use to measure someone's success is their Instagram follower number. By that standard, new rising Instagram and basketball star Talen Horton-Tucker is currently the most exciting guy in the NBA.
After the second preseason game against the Clippers, Talen received over 50,000 new IG followers overnight. But if that doesn't convince you, maybe his basketball will. The second-year Lakers guard was in Kawhi Leonard's face in one play, and after Kawhi put the ball down, Talen stripped him of the ball and led the fast break that concluded with him calmly knocking down a spot-up 3. After that play, Kawhi went over to Wesley Matthews and asked
“'What's this, Talen is 19?' I'm like, 'Huh? 19?' So I asked Talen, and he said, 'Yeah, I just turned 20,' and I was like wow.”
Wesley Matthews, Twitter
Even though he was 20 at the time (Horton-Tucker's birthday is on 25th November), he was still impressive. In the absence of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Talen got an opportunity to shine. On Friday against the Clippers, he led the Lakers in scoring with 19 points. Two days after, he scored 33 points, showed his skills, crossovers, jumpers, and flashiness around the hoop. Talen also grabbed ten rebounds and added four assists and four steals, and the Lakers won 131-106.
"It's actually crazy because I feel like, what other 19-, 20-year-old gets this experience in the world?" Not too many. So just being able to take everything in and learn from it every day.", Horton-Tucker said after his second game.
Talen Horton-Tucker, The Athletic
Talen can be an all-around player, he's at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, and his two biggest positives are that he's young and that he's got a 7-foot-1 wingspan. But not so long ago, he was just a kid with a freakish wingspan and not so many other skills. At least, that's what the scout report cards were saying.
“Talen is an anomaly. Four or five years ago, we'd have called him a tweener, and his stock would be low. Now, they're called versatile, and that bodes well in a league that values versatility.”
Fran Fraschilla, Des Moines Register
Horton-Tucker averaged 11.8 points during his only college season. He was a 40.6 percent shooter but shot 30.8 percent from the 3-point range and only 62.5 percent from the free-throw line. Here's how Talen described his game before the Lakers selected him as the 46 overall pick in the 2019 Draft.
“I played a lot of positions. I've shown my all-around guard skills, versatility, and the things I do best. I don't do just some things great. I do a number of things pretty good.”
Talen Horton-Tucker, Des Moines Register
Now he is showing what he is capable of. Lakers fans are over the moon about him, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Talen is good, and Vogel has to find him some minutes, but he'll be a good rotational player for now.