Height: 6’4” Weight: 235 Wingspan: 7’1” Age: 18 College: Iowa State Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Talen-Horton Tucker is a versatile shot creator that loves to play fast. He can help a team with his vision, aggression, and versatility. He can hurt a team with his shot selection. His best role will be as a playmaking forward. He had average production in his Freshman year at Iowa State averaging 17.4 points per 40 minutes, while shooting 31% from three. He’s a solid playmaker and had a 1.4 A/to ratio. He has good defensive instincts and has a chance to become great on that end with his length and strength.
Talen is best with the ball in his hands. Last year he was in the 60th percentile in Pick and Rolls including passes. He rejects screens very well, and sells the reject really with his eyes. Selling moves with your eyes is a very important, but under taught skill. Talen gets shoulder to shoulder on almost every screen, and has very good vision. He would have better efficiency numbers if he was a better shooter off the dribble, and better finisher. He was only in the 29th percentile as a shooter off the dribble last year, and he needs to improve this because it is an important skill for shot creators. He’s also just in the 41st percentile as a finisher which surprised me based on his length and strength. The reason his finishing efficiency wasn’t high was because he rarely uses his left hand, and he goes too fast at times. Slowing down would help his finishing. He needs to play slower in general. Talen doesn’t always need a screen to draw help, he was in the 64th percentile in isolations including passes. He sells his moves really well with his eyes, especially with his go to move, his lefty inside out. When he gets a head of steam he is tough to stop going downhill. His iso game is very instinctual, and when cut off he often uses a spin move which he is very good at. His iso numbers would be better if he improved his shot selection in these situations. He fires up way too many stepback jumpers on smaller defenders, when he could use his size, strength, and explosiveness to get to the rim to either finish, or draw two men and create a shot for a teammate. If his NBA coaches convince him to fix this, he could be a very solid shot creator.
Talen can play off the ball, but I like him more with the ball in his hands. Last year he was in the 47th percentile in spot up. He’s a pretty good off the catch shooter, and was in the 69th percentile as a catch and shoot guy. The reason his spot up efficiency was much lower than that was because how many dribble jumpers he takes, which he’s just not good at yet. When he took a no dribble jumper his efficiency was 1.111PPP, when he attacked the basket out of a spot up situation his efficiency was 1.103PPP, and when he took a dribble jumper out of spot up situations his efficiency was .622PPP. The numbers clearly show he takes too many dribble jumpers, and if he makes this simple fix he could improve a lot. Last year Talen was in the 36th percentile in transition. He is a better transition player than this, because transition analytics don’t include passing, which is one of his best skills. The reason his efficiency was low was because of him finishing too fast. I’m a huge fan of how aggressive and intense he plays, but he needs to slow down sometimes. You can still be aggressive while playing slow and in control.
Talen-Horton Tucker is an NBA ready defender. He can guard 2-4 well, and the occasional 1 or 5. Despite his short height he has very long arms, which is way more important than your height. Having your head higher than someone brings no value on defense, it’s all about your wingspan. Wingspan is way more important for basketball than height. Talen sometimes struggles to keep quick guards in front, but he is very physical, and stays discipline watching the defenders waste. This helps him not fall for a defenders fakes. He is always in a stance off the ball, and makes some fantastic reads as a help defender. These reads he makes as a help defender are an underrated skill, and have a huge impact on wins. As long as Talen isn’t guarding super quick guards he will defend his man well, while adding value off the ball because of his great instincts.
Talen has an average floor and an average ceiling. If he doesn’t improve his shot selection, shooting off the dribble or finishing, he will be hard to play much. It is likely that he improves 1-2 of those skills and becomes a role player that is a versatile defender and playmaker off the bench. If he improves all of those skills a good amount he will reach his ceiling of becoming an average starter. Tucker is a great competitor with a very instinctive game, and should clean up his shot selection early in his career, and become ready to compete for a role.