UTAH JAZZ

How Did Talen Horton-Tucker Win Starting Job For Jazz?

Oct 25, 2023, 6:11 PM

Utah Jazz guard Talen Horton-Tucker...

Utah Jazz guard Talen Horton-Tucker (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – After much discussion throughout the offseason about who would win the job, Talen Horton-Tucker will be starting for the Utah Jazz in their season opener.

Coach Will Hardy announced the decision during his pregame availability as the Jazz prepared to take on the Sacramento Kings to tip off their 50th season.

Jordan Clarkson, Lauri Markkanen, John Collins, and Walker Kessler will join Horton-Tucker in the Jazz starting lineup.

Talen Horton-Tucker Named Jazz Starter

During Jazz training camp Hardy compared the Jazz guard depth to the “Hunger Games” — a battle royal to earn minutes in the team’s rotation.

Though the Jazz’s coach waited until opening night to officially name Horton-Tucker the starter, there were signs throughout the preseason that the 22-year-old had a leg-up on the job.

Horton-Tucker was the only Jazz guard to start all five preseason games, and was the team’s second-leading minute-getter.

In nearly 22 minutes a night, the Iowa State product averaged 14.2 points, 4.4 assists, and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 45 percent from the floor and 36 percent from three.

Despite his strong offensive numbers, it’s on the defensive end where the Jazz coaching staff wants see Horton-Tucker shine.

“His athleticism his strength, his wingspan, his instincts, he could really be a high-level perimeter defender,” Hardy said. “And that’s where I want his focus to be, his understanding that he can really, really impact the game for us on the floor.”

Beyond his defense, the Jazz also liked the results they got from Horton-Tucker when paired with Clarkson last season.

Among two-man units returning to this year’s Jazz team, Horton-Tucker and Clarkson’s positive 9.4 net rating was by far the highest on the roster.

However, the Jazz starting backcourt wasn’t strictly decided by which guard played the best.

Hardy made the decision to start Horton-Tucker and Clarkson to benefit Lauri Markkanen who established himself as the face of the franchise last season.

“Talen pairs well with Jordan, and Jordan is very much a good pairing with Lauri because he provides a second threat offensively, a second ball handler, a second playmaker, kind of a second focal point of the offense,” the coach explained. “So when we made the determination that Jordan was going to play with Lauri, Talen was the best fit to play with Jordan.”

Jazz Face Kings To Open Season

The Jazz will face the Kings on Wednesday at 7 pm MST in Salt Lake City. The game will be televised on KJZZ, streamed on Jazz+, and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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How Did Talen Horton-Tucker Win Starting Job For Jazz?