I love the NBA. I love the theatrics. I love the petty wars. I love the lack of defense and entire focus on chucking as many threes as humanly possible. I enjoy all of the off-season with the free agent rumors. The trade deadline is my third favorite basketball day of the year, and yes, I do very much love to argue LeBron v. Jordan.
But one day that tends to get over looked every year in all the excitement is the Draft Lottery Day. A day held within the year for ping pong balls to (supposedly) bounce where they may and decide the fates of thirty youngsters selected in the first round. What makes this day special among the litany of other great days throughout the year is that for the first time, we get a glimpse into how things may shake out for a select few rookies.
One thing I’ve always enjoyed is that draft day is sort of like that part in Harry Potter where the wizards and witches sit under the Sorting Hat and get told what house they’re headed to for the next however many amount of years wizarding school takes to accomplish. Each house has its own set of values and personality quirks which the Sorting Hat sense before assigning the student to a house. In a weird way, that’s what teams do when they draft. They’re looking for the right guy and right qualities to help bring out the best in that player and that situation. Sometimes teams will swing and miss on players (Darko, Anthony Bennett), sometimes teams take gambles (Giannis, Jimmy Butler), and other times teams get it exactly right (Durant, Kyrie). With all that laid out, let’s look at one of the best guard prospects in the draft, our own beloved Talen Horton-Tucker.
For all intent and purposes, most scouts have THT being picked late first round, which makes a lot of sense. Talen is a young (just turned 18 last winter) guard with true raw talent that will require a lot of molding by a coach to help him achieve his full potential.
He’s sort of in an in between position with his skill set. Talen is very very good at a lot of things but not quite stellar at just one. While his dribble and drive to the paint are good, he at times makes poor choices when setting up the offense. He has a decent jumper but at times has a hard time when hitting repeatedly from distance. His effort level on defense could be a personal problem but also could have been due to the culture he was in under Prohm.
No matter what the case may be, one thing is for sure, a lot of scouts seem to agree that he’ll be used in an off ball tertiary role to start. His raw talent being what a lot of general managers are looking at to develop going forward. So with all that said, let’s look at the teams.
The last five picks of the draft are (as of right now according to CBS) the Cavs, Nets, Warriors, Spurs and the Bucks. Using these last five as the kind of landing zone for where a lot of people believe Talen will go, let’s have a look at what the best situation for the young guard would be to unlock his full potential.
Immediately when looking at the list, Cleveland can be crossed off. Not only did they draft Sexton a year ago, but this is a team without a head coach and some very questionable hands driving the car. Him landing here would only cause his early development to be hampered by a chaotic ladder of disorganization. While were at it, we can go ahead and cross the Nets (D-Lo reasons) and Warriors (I mean, c’mon) off as well.
This leaves us with two options to really think about, the Spurs and the Bucks.
For the most part, either one of these would be a good fit for Talen. The Bucks having arguably a top three coach in the East who’s helped to unlock Giannis’ best side of himself this year en route to a possible MVP season. Budenholzer has been able to design and run an offense based on surrounding Giannis with good shooters who can move the ball efficiently in the fast break. Talen would be able to step in and fight for good minutes to help his maturation process along very nicely.
This, however, leaves one left on the list, and for full disclosure, it’s the one I really would love to see THT end up getting sorted into. Talen on the Spurs would be a real win for him not only as a player, but also for the organization itself. He would end up in the very capable hands of one of the best coaches in the history of the NBA, and in a system that celebrates an unselfish and disciplined style of basketball. His ball handling and passing would be at the forefront of running this offense while also being given the opportunity to develop his defensive skills.
Pop is the kind of coach to check Talen at all of his worst habits. He has the know how and boisterous attitude to make sure he knows exactly what the right play and right choice would be to make. He’s a coach that has taken some of the best Euro players and turned them into first ballet Hall of Famers. He took a player once noted “his hands are too large to ever be effective” and molded him into a superstar. For someone with questionable shot selection and an undisciplined defensive game, a coach like Pop and a consistently good front office are exactly what someone with raw and gifted talent would need to succeed.
In any case, wherever Talen ends up, he’s got the potential to have a good career. The most we can hope for is that he finds the right home and situation to make him an even better player. (Even if it is with a team as calculated and boring as the Spurs.)