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Five NBA Teams That Should Make a Move

The trade deadline is a few days away. Here are five teams that should make a move.

Moke Hamilton

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With only a few days remaining before the February 19 NBA trading deadline, general managers across the league are sleeping a little less and spending a bit more time on their phones.

According to reports, few general managers have been as busy as Billy King out in Brooklyn. With owner Mikhail Prokhorov looking to divest his majority interest in the team, the Brooklyn Nets find themselves in the precarious position of being an aging, underachieving bunch. It should then come as no surprise that the Nets have reportedly shopped Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson over the course of the past few weeks.

Out West, as Goran Dragic prepares for his bout with unrestricted free agency and what could be maximum-salaried offers from the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks, the Phoenix Suns are in discussion mode, as well. With the Oklahoma City Thunder nipping at their heels and the Suns barely holding on to the eighth seed out West, any such trade for Dragic would be done solely as a proactive maneuver to avoid losing him for nothing via free agency.

In many ways, it would make sense for either the Nets or Suns to be working the phone lines, but as we peruse the league and ascertain which teams have the most to lose (or gain), there are five teams that strike us as needing to make a deal.

* * *

BROOKLYN NETS

Yes, the Brooklyn Nets would be wise to make a trade, but not necessarily for the aforementioned reasons that are primarily financially motivated.

As a result of the 2012 trade that brought Joe Johnson to the Nets, the Atlanta Hawks have the right to swap first-round picks with the Nets in this year’s draft. If the season ended at the All-Star break, the Nets would have finished the season with the 12th-best odds of winning the draft lottery. That position would give the Nets just a 0.7 percent chance of winning the top overall pick, so the concern is not that the Hawks would somehow win Duke’s Jahlil Okafor or Kentucky’s Karl Anthony-Towns, but for a team that is devoid of any real hopes for the future, all the Nets have is right now.

The team could opt to go on a fire sale, but for the team with the league’s highest payroll for the second-consecutive season, missing out on the playoffs would be a bit of an embarrassment.

So, the Nets find themselves at a bit of a crossroads. They can pull the plug and attempt to peddle some of their productive pieces for draft picks or could attempt to add a piece or two and hope to sneak into the Eastern Conference playoffs. As crazy as it may sound, although the Nets will begin the second half of the season at 21-31, they are just one game behind the seventh-seeded Charlotte Hornets in the standings.

As of this moment, the Nets appear to have no future and no present. Between now and February 19, general manager Billy King and his staff must do something to give the team direction, one way or another.

HOUSTON ROCKETS

You would be hard-pressed to find a member of the national NBA media that would argue that James Harden is not at least worthy of honorable mention as the Most Valuable Player of the first half of the season.

Despite only having Dwight Howard for 32 games, the Rockets will begin the second half of the season as the fourth seed in the Western Conference and Harden has been the catalyst. His 27.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game has capably led the Rockets, but he merits special recognition for the way he has developed into a leader in Houston and willingly painted a bulls-eye on his chest when, in the aftermath of the departures of Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik, he declared that as long as he and Howard were in Houston, they would be contenders.

Turns out, even without Howard, the Rockets look like contenders.

Still, general manager Daryl Morey would be wise to at least peruse the market because the Rockets may be depending on Harden just a bit too much. By the time March and April rolls around, the 37 minutes per game he is playing may have him a bit worn down and if the Rockets hope to stay atop the Western Conference, his minutes and usage may actually need to increase.

Howard’s questionable health also leaves the Rockets with just one seven-footer that is worthy of rotation minutes, Donatas Motiejunas. Since waiving the promising Tarik Black for Josh Smith earlier this season, the Rockets have been shuffling their big man rotation, but some stability is much-needed.

The Rockets are also said to have eyes for a point guard to strengthen their backcourt alongside Harden. Both Goran Dragic and Ty Lawson have been mentioned as potential targets for the Rockets and it is easy to understand why.

Under normal circumstances, it would be difficult to argue that the fourth-seeded team in its respective conference needs to make a move, but with the Rockets potentially one piece away from winning a championship and teams with size standing in their way, adding a combo big man certainly wouldn’t be the worst idea. Similarly, finding a way to preserve Harden would help the cause, as well. Not to mention, Morey is always active at the deadline and it’s unlikely this year will be the exception.

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

Depending on who you speak with, the Los Angeles Clippers are either a contender that is pacing itself and preparing for the playoffs or a team that is missing something and in need of a shot in the arm.

In the recent past, the Clippers have been linked to Tayshaun Prince, Andrei Kirilenko and Amar’e Stoudemire, who has reportedly committed to joining the Dallas Mavericks upon clearing waivers on February 18.

Where there’s smoke, though, there’s fire, and if Rivers has interest in adding another piece to his core, it is because he agrees with the notion that the Clippers may not have enough to put them over the top. That is especially true before even considering how the extended absence of Blake Griffin will affect the club. After undergoing surgery to remove a staph infection in his right elbow on February 9, Griffin is expected to be out for four-to-six weeks.

Even a return after four weeks would have Griffin return on March 9. Fortunately for the Clippers, partially due to the All-Star break, they will play only 10 games during that stretch, but of those 10 games, only three of them will come against non-winning teams.

If Griffin is out for up to six weeks, he would miss about 18 games and although the Clippers are a fairly deep team, they weren’t exactly dominating the West with him.

As a team, the Clippers are heavily reliant on their perimeter shooting to score points and win games and without Griffin, the team loses its best post-playmaker and finisher. In a perfect world, with only 13 players on their current roster, Doc Rivers would find a way to add another player who can get to the basket consistently and score points in the paint. A rugged front court player would be ideal, but even a guard who could spell Chris Paul and create easy scoring opportunities for DeAndre Jordan and Glen Davis could pay major dividends.

Someone like Wilson Chandler (whom the Clippers have pursued) could be the ideal fit in Los Angeles. The challenge the Clippers have encountered, however, is a dearth of tradable assets and desirable pieces. That is the main reason why the targets that have emerged for the team have been buyout candidates.

Still, the Clippers are a team that is in need of another body or two and it is one of the league’s poorly kept secrets as the clock ticks toward February 19.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

It seems odd that the Oklahoma City Thunder would be mentioned as a team that needs to make a trade. Winners of five of their final six before the All-Star break, the Thunder will enter the second half of the season trailing the eighth-seeded Phoenix Suns by just a single game.

The reason the Thunder need to make a trade, however, is because the franchise aspires to not simply make the playoffs, but to win a championship. With Kevin Durant’s upcoming free agency in July 2016, regression is not an option.

How would Durant react if, after seeing James Harden emerge as an MVP candidate in Houston, the Thunder lose Reggie Jackson to restricted free agency this summer? If Jackson is not moved and signs a maximum offer sheet, would the Thunder match it? Would doing so be prudent?

With Brook Lopez being dangled by the Nets and the ability to upgrade their center position with a much-needed low-post threat, could the Thunder afford to turn down the opportunity to add an offensively gifted 26-year-old seven-footer?

As currently constructed, one could certainly make the argument that the Thunder are already one of the most talented teams in the Western Conference, but moving Jackson in the right deal, for the right piece, could fortify the team not only for this season, but for years to come.

In the alternative, imagine the Thunder standing pat at the deadline and then failing to return to the NBA Finals this year. Imagine Jackson signing a maximum-salaried offer sheet with the New York Knicks and the Thunder opting not to match. The team would be entering the 2015-16 season a bit weaker, having underachieved and with Durant having the opportunity to flee after one last crack at a title.

If you were general manager Sam Presti, that is the last place you would want to be.

TORONTO RAPTORS

It seems like so long ago that the Toronto Raptors were beating up on everyone in the Eastern Conference, in many cases, even without DeMar DeRozan. Kudos are due all around. Last season, Dwane Casey began in the unenviable predicament of coaching for a general manager that did not hire him in Masai Ujiri and he has gotten his team to play. Kyle Lowry has proven that his productivity last season was no aberration and rightfully earned an All-Star berth this past season while DeRozan has more than lived up to the four-year, $38 million extension he signed back in 2012.

And yes, credit general manager Masai Ujiri for keeping it all together.

Here is why the Raptors are on this list, though… Would you choose them in a seven-game series over the Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards, Atlanta Hawks or Cleveland Cavaliers? Even if you would, how confident would you be in the selection?

Thanks to the ill-fated Andrea Bargnani trade of 2013, the Raptors own the 2016 first round pick of the New York Knicks. Would it be wise for the Raptors to attempt to package that pick in order to upgrade one of their positions of need? Standings aside, we are of the opinion that the Raptors are the fifth-best team in the Eastern Conference and with that pick coming in from the Knicks, the team has the ability to fortify and solidify itself as a favorite in the conference.

If there is one thing that the Detroit Pistons taught us back in 2004 when they acquired Rasheed Wallace at the deadline, it was that going “all in” on a title push isn’t always a bad proposition.

The Raptors could certainly do worse than adding someone like Greg Monroe, Reggie Jackson or David West to their already impressive core, and with a nice array of young talent and future draft picks to potentially peddle, we happen to think they have a means to do so.

* * *

From Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green to Corey Brewer and J.R. Smith, some big names have already changed addresses this season. As Amar’e Stoudemire prepares to take his talents to Dallas and LeBron James sets his eyes firmly on punching his ticket to a fifth-consecutive NBA Finals appearance, the teams across the NBA have one final shot to bolster their rosters in an attempt to go “all in” and make a run.

Indeed, across the league, all general managers are fielding phone calls and pondering whether to pull the trigger on trades that could shift the power pendulum in the NBA.

All teams are active, but the five aforementioned would be most wise to get something done between now and 3:00 p.m. ET on February 19.

Moke Hamilton is a Deputy Editor and Columnist for Basketball Insiders.

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Miami’s Youth Supporting HEAT’s Early Season Success

While much Miami’s early success can be attributed to the team’s system and the play of superstar Jimmy Butler, much of the credit also goes to three of the HEAT’s younger players. Drew Maresca recently caught up with them to speak about how its youth has helped drive the team’s success.

Drew Maresca

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Expectations for the Miami HEAT have varied a lot since LeBron James left for the greener pastures of Cleveland in 2012. Many felt that the HEAT had finally climbed out of the basement when they swung a deal for Jimmy Butler this past off-season, but doubts about their depth and their lack of a true second option remained.

Well, the doubters obviously failed to factor in the HEAT’s rookies performing as they have.

While they do not boast one of the league’s youngest rosters (25th overall), the HEAT have succeeded through the first 20-or-so games by playing young, inexperienced players. In fact, three of the HEAT’s top seven minute-getters are essentially rookies – Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn. Herro is a true rookie, Nunn went un-drafted in 2018 and played all of last season with the Santa Cruz Warriors (Golden State’s G-league affiliate) and Robison played most of 2018-19 with the Siox Falls Skyforce (the HEAT’s G-league affiliate) — but also appeared in 15 games with Miami.

Now, it’s not terribly unusual for rookies and young players to crack a team’s rotation. But when most people consider rookies playing major roles, they typically think of teams that are somewhere in the process of a rebuild – not a team in third place in the Eastern Conference. As of Dec. 9, the HEAT are the only team in the league with a .700 winning percentage or better to feature more than one rookie and/or second-year player as top-seven minute getters.

While this is a pretty impressive feat, it speaks to the HEAT’s organization and its culture. After all, the Miami system is notorious for its player development. Looking back at its past successes and reclamation projects, the HEAT’s system was responsible for reinvigorating a number of players including Dion Waiters and Chris Anderson.

And more importantly, the HEAT are lauded for providing one of the very best cultures in the entire league. The best example is head coach Erik Spoelstra himself, who has now been with the organization for 23 years, famously beginning as a video coordinator in 1995. At the top, Spoelstra preaches defense and ball movement, which leads to success for all.

The team’s youngsters have already taken note of the special vibe around the HEAT locker room. Robinson recently told Basketball Insiders that the Miami coaching staff and veterans deserve most of the credit for their early successes.

“It shows leadership,” Robinson said. “We have some guys, obviously UD (Haslem), Jimmy (Butler) and other guys that are good secondary leaders, and taking us younger guys under their wing…guys like Justise (Winslow) and Bam (Adebayo).”

Robinson elaborated on the importance of absorbing as much as possible from the team’s coaching staff and veterans prior to training camp. “Us three (rookies) were around all summer,” Robinson said. “It’s only my second year as part of this program, but I feel like I’ve learned so much and come so far in that time.”

But while team leadership deserves some of the credit, it’s also due to the rookies themselves – who have taken on whatever role they’ve been assigned. Tyler Herro spoke with Basketball Insiders recently about coming off the bench for the HEAT, which represents a very different – and some might say, reduced – role compared to the one he owned last year at Kentucky. But that’s not how Herro sees it.

“I look at it as I’m still seeing starter minutes,” Herro said. “I’m not concerned with coming off the bench. I try to come in and give no empty minutes and play my absolute best.”

It’s hard to say if the HEAT select players with strong personalities and positive attitudes, or if that’s learned from Spoelstra and the team’s veterans. But either way, players like Herro enter their rookie seasons and make the team look incredibly savvy.

“I think (coming from Kentucky) helped a lot,” Herro continued, while – again – complimenting his new team and coaching staff. “My teammates at Kentucky and Coach Cal and his staff prepared me for this. But I also think that the (HEAT) staff and my teammates here pushed me to where I’m at now, too.”

Herro and Robinson have flourished in the HEAT’s system so far. Robinson is averaging 10.9 points on 42.5 percent three-point shooting in 26 minutes per game. Herro is averaging 14.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists over 29 minutes per game.

And then there’s Kendrick Nunn. Nunn is a pleasant surprise for the HEAT, scooped up immediately following last season. Despite slumping of late, Nunn is averaging 15.3 points, 3.4 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 30.0 minutes per game — good for third in scoring and second in assists, making him a major (surprise) Rookie of the Year candidate.

In addition to how well the three HEAT youngsters are playing, they are all incredibly close – especially so considering the short amount of time they’ve been teammates. And that stands to benefit Miami both this season and beyond.

“We’re best friends,” Herro said of his relationship with Nunn while sitting immediately next to Robinson in the Brooklyn Nets’ visiting locker room. “We like to see each other have good games. We don’t pay attention to the media or try to out-do one another.”

“Generally, we got a great group of guys who like each other and we enjoy each other’s success,” Herro continued. “So that makes it easier for everyone to perform at the highest level.”

But friendships aside, they play well when sharing the court.

“I feel like, as a team, we are at our best when Tyler and I are out there and aggressive,” Robinson said. “So we just want to continue to do that and translate that into wins.”

There are still improvements that need to be made in Miami, though.

For example, the HEAT are only 4-6 against teams above .500. Further, they’re lost all four games they’ve played on the tail end of back-to-backs. While you can point to fatigue as a culprit, you can also blame it on a lack of experience and stamina – and the latter two will improve over time. But the scary part is, while there is room for growth, they are already so far ahead of the curve.

Just imagine what they might look like in a year.

But let’s remain focused on this season: And in 2019-20, the HEAT are in the favorable position of having young talent supporting established stars like Butler and Dragic. While they are well-positioned for the future with Winslow, Adebayo, Herro, Robinson and Nunn, they are also built to compete now. Just don’t bother asking them about the team’s goals.

“We talk about goals, of course,” Robinson said. “But that stuff stays between us in this locker room. At the same time, we understand that the day-to-day is far more important. You want to keep the big picture in mind, but you’ve got to take care of what’s on your plate first.”

So we’ll have to wait and see how much they develop and what they ultimately do in 2019-20. But one thing’s for sure – the HEAT are on track to greatly exceed expectations.

And they just might do so in a big way.

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NBA Daily: Davis Bertans Joins Ranks Of NBA’s Elite Marksmen

Not even his most ardent supporters knew what the San Antonio Spurs were losing and Washington Wizards were gaining with Davis Bertans. Nearing two months into the season, he’s suddenly among the best shooters in basketball. Jack Winters writes.

Jack Winter

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Not even the best shooter in the world can inform his team’s effectiveness from beyond the arc alone.

The assumption otherwise was put to the test in last year’s NBA Finals, when the Golden State Warriors — with Kevin Durant watching sidelined — proved hapless offensively without both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson on the floor. If one of the Splash Brothers can’t turn a lineup of non-shooters into a threatening attack from deep, no one can.

But watching Davis Bertans this season, it’s tempting to think just how much better the San Antonio Spurs would be if he still played in the Alamo City. It’s not a complete hypothetical, either. Gregg Popovich is on record confirming the Spurs never would have traded Bertans to free up cap space if Marcus Morris had no interest in coming aboard. Less than a week after he agreed to terms with San Antonio, though, Morris reneged on his commitment to take a one-year deal with the New York Knicks.

It’s remiss to suggest retaining Bertans would make a season-altering difference for the Spurs. But what’s absolutely clear is that San Antonio’s loss has been a bigger gain for the Washington Wizards than anyone could have realistically anticipated.

The best suggest Bertans’ value in a league-wide vacuum this summer is what Washington gave up to get him. Aaron White was the team’s second-round pick in 2015 and played the last four seasons overseas. He might have a chance of finding his way to the league going forward, but it’s telling that White has expressed interest in transitioning to the NBA on multiple occasions only to head back to Europe toward the end of each offseason.

For all intents and purposes, it seems, the only thing of value Washington used to acquire Bertans was a trade exception. Take a bow, Tommy Sheppard. But it’s safe to say that not even the Wizards general manager saw this long-range onslaught coming.

Bertans cashed five more threes on Friday night in his team’s loss to the Miami Heat, bringing his season-long total to 78 on just over eight attempts per game. Only James Harden and Devonté Graham have connected on more triples than Bertans, and neither of them sniffs his 44.8 percent shooting from beyond arc. There are 35 players with at least 50 made threes this season; just four of them are have been more accurate than Bertans, per NBA.com.

Maybe some Spurs fans aren’t shocked by Bertans’ prowess from deep. He made a mini leap as a shooter in 2018-19, adding a bit of versatility to his long ball while upping his accuracy more than five points to 42.9 percent. Bertans isn’t some seasoned veteran, either. He was drafted in 2011 but only entered the league in 2016-17, and just turned 27. Some growth was to be expected from Bertans, basically, especially as the game’s emphasis on three-point shooting continues reaching new zeniths.

But the jump Bertans has made to join the exclusive shooting club reserved for the likes of J.J. Redick and Joe Harris is stunning nonetheless. After mostly serving as a weak-side floor-spacer and pet play shooter, Bertans is hunting threes this season while exuding the confidence and conviction of a true marksman with every step he takes on the floor.

Wonder why Bertans leads the NBA in points per possession in transition? He routinely sprints to open spots when the floor changes sides, and Washington ball-handlers know to look for him.

It’s hard enough for most guards to stop on a dime and launch catch-and-shoot triples in transition, which makes Bertans’ ability to do so all the more impressive. He stands 6-foot-10, but you’d never know it by the speed and footwork he often utilizes to create enough space for himself to launch.

All players Bertans’ size not named Durant are supposed to need an extra blip before letting fly. It’s hard enough for them to set their feet and square their shoulders to the rim on the move without worrying about getting a shot off in time to avoid an effective contest. But Bertans gets to his shooting form with remarkable ease, sometimes even hopping on the catch when his air space is closing fast, and owns one of the quickest releases in basketball.

Coming into 2019-20, Bertans had connected on just 20 off-dribble triples over three full seasons. He’s over halfway to that total through 21 games, regularly using a bounce or two to find some extra breathing room between he and the defense.

Is this Durant or Bertans?

Of course, Bertans would be the talk of the league even more than he is already if the skill he exhibits as a shooter fully translated to the rest of his game.

He can drive hard close-outs or turn the corner after a dribble hand-off with two or three dribbles to get to the rim, but has little workable wiggle in his handle. More problematic is his tendency to finish like a guard, too. Bertans is far better described as a fluid athlete than an explosive one, but that doesn’t mean he should regularly opt for floaters and scoops when challenged by rim-protectors in the paint.

His ceiling is also limited by his lack of positional versatility. Bertans is surprisingly light on his feet and fights hard defensively, but is way overstretched checking smalls. He possesses natural timing as a shot-blocker, but has short arms and vertical oomph needed to compensate. Bertans is a four-man, and that’s pretty much the extent of his positional scalability.

That’s why he’s probably best suited coming off the bench for the remainder of his career, perhaps closing games not just for Washington, but a title contender. Bertans is already proving himself as a high-impact offensive player, leading the Wizards – who boast a top-five offense, remember – in offensive rating and ranking behind only Bradley Beal in terms of net offensive efficiency. Lineups featuring that tandem are scoring 120.1 points per 100 possessions, almost 16 more than when Beal is on the floor without Bertans, per NBA.com.

The bad news for Washington? Bertans is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, and an uninspiring list of marquee free agents assures he’ll be getting major upgrade on his $7 million salary. The Wizards should have enough flexibility to bring him back, but there’s no guarantee he’ll want to remain in the nation’s capital. It bears mentioning that Bertans has made clear he still considers San Antonio home.

But his future is a concern to be addressed another time.

For now, Bertans is a problem for Washington’s opponents to deal with, and unfortunately for them, there’s no workable answer to limiting his influence – just like that of every other shooter his increasingly rarified caliber.

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NBA Daily: Horton-Tucker Making Most Of Time With South Bay Lakers

David Yapkowitz has a chat with Los Angeles Lakers rookie guard Talen Horton-Tucker about getting reps in the G League with South Bay and what he sees his role being in the NBA when that time comes.

David Yapkowitz

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When the Los Angeles Lakers drafted Talen Horton-Tucker this summer, the expectation was that he probably wouldn’t receive much playing time. On a veteran-laden team with championship expectations, there wasn’t going to be much of a role for a rookie.

That was further accentuated when Horton-Tucker suffered a stress reaction in his right foot, causing him to miss all of Summer League, which kept him limited during training camp. When he was finally cleared to return to the court, the Lakers assigned him to their G League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers.

He has suited up in only one game for the Lakers this season, but he’s played in every game with South Bay so far. In 11 games in the G League, he’s shown flashes of why the Lakers still drafted him despite suffering the foot injury during the draft combine.

His time in the G League was his first meaningful court action since leading Iowa State to the NCAA Tournament last spring.

“It feels great to be out here finally. I’m just trying to catch a rhythm with South Bay,” Horton-Tucker told Basketball Insiders. “I’m just taking it a day at a time. I feel like it’s been pretty good for my overall growth, that’s what’s important.”

Horton-Tucker has fit in well with the South Bay roster. He’s shown an ability to shoot from the perimeter at times, and he’s looked comfortable in putting the ball on the floor and making plays off the dribble.

His shot hasn’t always been on point, though. He’s shooting only 32.4 percent from the field and 24.2 percent from the three-point line, but he’s gotten good looks from the perimeter within the flow of the offense. And despite that, he’s made himself valuable on the court by contributing in other ways. He’s attacked the glass well, and he keeps the ball moving while looking to set teammates up for easy shots.

He’s managed to average double-digits in scoring with 11.8 points per game, and he’s put up 5.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists as well. Being able to be a positive on the court when his offense isn’t quite there yet is something he believes will help his career moving forward.

“I feel like if you play basketball, you’ve got to learn how to do everything. It’s just something I got to do,” Horton-Tucker told Basketball Insiders. “Whenever my shot is not falling, I know I can stay involved and rebound. I’ll still be able to contribute to a winning environment. I feel like I’ve been doing that the last few games that my shot hasn’t been falling.”

A few years ago, Horton-Tucker wouldn’t have had this opportunity to work on his game. The G League was much smaller than it is now, and most teams didn’t have affiliate they could send young players down to for development. NBA teams didn’t use the league as much, and many players viewed being sent down as punishment rather than a positive.

Without the G League, Horton-Tucker would likely have spent the majority season gathering splinters on the Lakers bench. With the growing expansion and usage of the G League, he’s able to get actual game reps in against legitimate competition to stay fresh.

He knew coming into this season that he wasn’t going to play much for the Lakers, if at all, so he’s grateful for being able to play with South Bay.

“It’s good to get your run in when you need to. I understand that I’m probably not going to get minutes with the Lakers right now,” Horton-Tucker told Basketball Insiders. “I’m just taking it one day at a time. I feel like the G League has been great. It helps us get our reps in and it helps our careers get started.”

While Horton-Tucker is still very young — he was one of the youngest players in the draft and just recently turned 19 years old last month — he has a skill set that should be able to eventually translate to regular NBA minutes. He’s a big guard who can generate his own offense, and he’s strong enough and skilled enough to be able to match up defensively against multiple positions.

He was recalled to the Lakers this weekend for their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He only played in two minutes of garbage time and missed his only shot, a three-pointer. He’ll likely return to South Bay sometime soon, and when he does get brought back to the Lakers, garbage time minutes will be his role. But the NBA can be unpredictable at times, and injuries and whatnot can strike at a moment’s notice forcing players into immediate action.

In the event that he is called upon for regular minutes at some point this season, Horton-Tucker is confident in what he can bring to the team.

“I feel like I can bring the same things I bring to this team right now,” Horton-Tucker told Basketball Insiders. “It’s my versatility, being able to do things like rebounding, passing, just doing whatever they need me to do, I can do that.”

The Lakers are clearly going to be in win-now mode for the duration of LeBron James’ contract, but if Horton-Tucker continues with his development, it’s going to be hard to keep him off the court. He’s going to use this year to continue to learn, with the hopes of being able to play a meaningful role next season.

“I just want to get better all around. I want to play on the Lakers next year, that’s just my goal,” Horton-Tucker told Basketball Insiders. “Not being cocky or anything, but that’s just my goal, to play with the Lakers next season. That’s something that I’m going to work hard towards.”

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