After re-signing him to a three-year deal in the summer, the Lakers have big plans for him since they paid him over $30 million for the duration of the deal.
Horton-Tucker has gradually gotten more minutes throughout his first two seasons, and this year could be more of the same.
The Lakers, however, do have a lot of competition in the backcourt with many guards vying for minutes and a consistent spot in the rotation.
Horton-Tucker could play the 1 or the 2 spots, maybe some at the 3, which means he’ll be competing with Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, Wayne Ellington, Rajon Rondo and Kent Bazemore for minutes; however, Bazemore could be used often at the 3.
Here are three goals for Horton-Tucker to improve his standing on the team:
Improve the 3-point percentage to 33-35%
Horton-Tucker’s glaring weakness offensively is his inability to knock down the 3-pointer at a consistent rate. He shot under 30% last season on low volume last season, which is an unappealing combination to have. If he can bump his percentage up to somewhere in the range of 33 to 35%, he’ll be someone who can be trusted to play off the ball more since he’s usually reliant on initiating plays.
Increase the assist rate and assist percentage
Most of Horton-Tucker’s offensive game is reliant on getting to the rim. Once he gets there, he wants to attempt a layup no matter how difficult it gets. Though he’s solid at finishing, he’ll have to open up his game more by being a willing passer on those drives. Last season he averaged 2.8 assists per game with an assist percentage of 20.8. If those can jump to around 3.5 to 4 per game and 25%, depending on the minutes he’s playing, that’ll be a nice leap to build on.
Better use your defensive frame
Defense, defense, defense. That’s all it’s about under head coach Frank Vogel. But Horton-Tucker’s off-ball defense will have to take a leap to be a fixture in the rotation. He has often struggled off the ball as he gets caught ball-watching, doesn’t properly navigate screens and leaves opponents too open and other flaws, But with his size and 7-foot-1 wingspan, there’s serious potential for the 20-year-old guard to be a tough presence to handle defensively. The guard knows these are some of the areas he must improve in this season, so he’ll have to prove it to be a mainstay alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook.