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Frank Vogel reveals Lakers’ x-factor on defense — and it’s not Anthony Davis

Lakers, LeBron James, Anthony Davis

There will be no shortage of firepower for the Los Angeles Lakers this coming season. The additions of Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, among others, will definitely see to that. The big question, however, is if LA will be able to make things work on the defensive end.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has earned a reputation as a defensive-minded coach, and he is well aware of how his team must be able to excel on defense in order to give themselves a shot at the title. At this point, Vogel has already singled out one player who he believes will be an x-factor for the squad on the defensive end. That man is none other than Talen Horton-Tucker:

“You talk about the defensive end, and who’s gonna be that guy? He’s been challenged,” Vogel said of THT in a recent podcast appearance, via Sam Leweck of Lakers Daily. “This is a big growth season for him. He has the ability. The last two years he’s been a young player. He’s gotten a little bit better as we’ve gone. He’s one of those guys that looking at KCP and Alex [Caruso] not being here, can you step up and fill into that role of guarding some of the other best players?”

The bookmakers have Anthony Davis as the Top 3 favorite to bag the 2021-22 Defensive Player of the Year award, behind reigning DPOY Rudy Gobert and Ben Simmons. AD will be the Lakers’ key cog on the defensive end, but as Vogel expressed above, players like Horton-Tucker will also play a key role for the team.

Vogel continued his praise for THT as he described the development the 20-year-old has gone through over the past couple of years:

“Internal confidence goes a long way, and what you love about him is he does have that humility and that demeanor of being a sponge and knowing he’s a young player and wanting to get better and have a whatever I can do to help the team type of mindset,” Vogel said. “He’s got the right attitude, but he’s also got great tremendous internal confidence and guts to take the shot you were referring to, to go into traffic and get to the basket in a fearless manner and improve the decisions he’s making once he gets there. So there’s a lot there. We feel like he’s gonna improve his 3-point shooting this year both with the work and the shot selection, and he’s gonna have opportunities to really compete on the defensive end against some great players.”

On Thursday, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka also raved about what Horton-Tucker brings to the table:

All eyes will be on the Lakers this coming season, with their superstars expected to live under a microscope throughout the campaign. Talen Horton-Tucker may not be a star by definition, but there’s also no denying that he’s going to be a vital player for LA in 2021-22.