The Trail Blazers’ memorable postseason run might be over, but the the 2019 NBA Draft is right around the corner. Portland’s President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey currently has the No. 25 pick in the draft at his disposal and he will look to supplement the Blazers’ roster with a talented prospect in the latter stages of the first round. Today we look at Iowa State Cyclones wing Talen Horton-Tucker.
- Height: 6’4”
- Weight: 235
- Wingspan: 7’1.25”
- Shooting Hand: Right
- Position: G/F
- Age: 18
- Projected Draft Range: 19-35
- PTS: 11.8 | Per 40: 17.4
- REB: 4.9 | Per 40: 7.1
- AST: 2.3 | Per 40: 3.4
- STL: 1.3 | Per 40: 1.9
- FG%: 40.6
- 3P%: 30.8
- FT%: 62.5
Buoyed by an impressive NBA-ready frame, Horton-Tucker is oozing with potential. Capable of playing every position outside of center, the Chicago native can switch between multiple roles on a single possession. Offensively, he does an excellent job of using his body to cut off defenders when attempting shots at the rim. Outside of the paint, Horton-Tucker displays glimpses of his catch-and-shoot potential. His blend of ball handling and finishing is on full display in transition. Much like Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, Horton-Tucker is a master of generating lightning-quick opportunities.
Horton-Tucker’s defensive upside is firmly attached to his stellar 7-foot-1 wingspan. Armed with the quickness to match his length, the former Cyclones standout is poised to be a difference maker in whatever scheme he lands in at the next level.
Horton-Tucker is one of the youngest players in the 2019 class and it shows on both ends of the court. On offense, he has the tendency to dribble into situations that end in turnovers or heavily contested shots. Despite all his physical gifts, Horton-Tucker was routinely caught flat-footed on the defensive end. Outside of his lack of experience, Horton-Tucker’s release on his jumper is lower than most players. Given his form, his perimeter offense will require space to be effective.
Off the court, Horton-Tucker’s trip to the NBA Combine was met with questions regarding his decision making. Prior to his arrival, the Ames Tribune revealed that Horton-Tucker pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge stemming from incident that occurred at an Ames, Iowa Wal-Mart. However minor the infraction might have been, it was not a good look for the first-round hopeful.
Iowa State’s trip to the Maui Invitational set the stage for a pair of breakout performances for Horton-Tucker. Against Illinois, he put together a 26-point outburst to lead the Cyclones to victory before returning to the mainland. In the heart of Iowa State’s conference schedule, Horton-Tucker put up a pair of 20-point outings against Kansas State and Ole Miss, both of which were ranked in the top 25 at the time. At the conclusion of the year, he earned a place on the All-Big 12 Freshman team.
Horton-Tucker’s age and favorable measurements combine to make him one of the most intriguing post-lottery prospects. Defensively, he has all the tools to corral guards and hold his ground in the paint against post players. Regardless of his shooting inconsistencies, Horton-Tucker’s willingness to pass and create off the break will ease the sting of his less-than-ideal floor spacing. He is far from a finished product, but all his deficiencies appear to be correctable.
Facing several noteworthy decisions this summer, the Trail Blazers could address the future of multiple positions by selecting Horton-Tucker at No. 25. His short-term production could come at the G League level, but his versatile skill set would fit ideally next to Portland’s future cast of contributors. The Blazers’ willingness to roll the dice on Anfernee Simons’ unorthodox shot shows that Olshey trusts Portland’s development process.
Coach Terry Stotts’ staff has a strong track record of extracting every bit of potential from unfinished prospects. Coupled with Horton-Tucker’s physical profile, his fit with the Blazers is a proposition that is tough to discount.
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