Talen Horton-Tucker’s fate proves that Knicks’ RJ Barrett doubters were wrong

May 11, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker (5) is defended by New York Knicks center Nerlens Noel (3) as he goes up for a basket in the first half of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
May 11, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker (5) is defended by New York Knicks center Nerlens Noel (3) as he goes up for a basket in the first half of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

Sports debates, especially in the NBA, are often driven off lists and rankings. Player comparisons get thrown around like they’re nothing. And sometimes, media members go a little too far in trying to prove a point. That becomes especially true when regarding the New York Knicks.

Just this March, Bleacher Report listed its current top 24 NBA players under 24 years old.

The list included stars like Ja Morant, Luka Doncic, and Anthony Edwards. It also included some head-scratchers like Kevin Huerter, Franz Wagner, and Talen Horton-Tucker. Not on the list was Knicks star RJ Barrett, who not in my wildest dreams would be behind any of those last three players named.

Lakers-Jazz trade proves emerging Knicks’ RJ Barrett is a much better player than Talen Horton-Tucker

Here was the trade that was finalized Thursday morning, sending Pat Bev to the Los Angeles Lakers.

It goes without saying that Patrick Beverley is a defensive menace. He’s also a difference maker. Since Beverley played his first NBA season in 2012-13, he’s only missed the playoffs once. That was in 2018 when Beverley suffered a season-ending knee injury in the midst of him averaging career-highs in points and steals per game.

With that being said, no one is arguing that Beverley is a star in this league. He’s a unique player that accepts a role few people want to step into and executes it as well as anyone. Playing the role of villain, tone setter, and defensive stopper isn’t sexy, but Beverley executes it to perfection.

For the Lakers, it’s a great pickup. But what they gave up to get Pat Bev proves that RJ Barrett has much more value than THT.

A few weeks back, I proposed a few trades the Knicks could execute involving Evan Fournier. One of them happened to be revolved around Patrick Beverley. Here’s what I came up with:

Possible Trade:

Knicks receive: Patrick Beverley, future first-round pick

Jazz receive: Evan Fournier, future second-round pick

The reasoning behind the trade was the Knicks giving up an important scoring piece to add a key defender. The reasoning behind the picks was simply that Beverley turned 34 in July and Fournier only turns 30 in October. The Frenchman is still at the tail end of his prime.

The Lakers arguably gave up even more than the Knicks would have based on my proposed trade.

Here’s a simple breakdown using stats from the 2021-22 NBA season:

  • Evan Fournier (29 years old): 14.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 38.9 3P%
  • Talen Horton-Tucker (21 years old): 10.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 26.9 3P%
  • Stanley Johnson (26 years old): 6.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 31.4 3P%

Fournier and THT are fairly comparable. Obviously, the Frenchmen is in his prime, so I would figure that considering THT’s current track record, he’ll probably average around 14 or 15 points per game at age 29. But Horton-Tucker is a far worse three-point shooter, so that also needs to be taken into consideration.

Johnson is really being used as a filler piece. He should certainly crack the Jazz’s rotation, but at 26 years old, he has shown nothing more than being an NBA role player. There’s nothing wrong with that, but he doesn’t move the needle much.

Now, let’s add Barrett to the mix:

  • RJ Barrett (22 years old): 20.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 34.2 3P%

For Barrett playing the same amount of seasons as THT, those numbers look drastically better. Neither the Knicks nor the Lakers were a playoff team last year.

To play Devil’s advocate, Barrett did average 10 more minutes per game and took roughly eight more shots from the field each contest.

So, let’s go even further and compare their Per36 numbers (2021-22):

  • Horton-Tucker: 14.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 26.9 3P%
  • Barrett: 20.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 34.2 3P%

It doesn’t take a mathematician to understand that Barrett’s numbers are far more impressive than Horton-Tucker’s. Of course, THT gets a small bump in the assists category, but other than that, it’s green checks across the board for the Knicks star.

Taking all of this into consideration, Bleacher Report’s list had that same Talen Horton-Tucker over RJ Barrett.

Barrett is the player that New York’s reportedly unwilling to include in a trade for Utah star Donovan Mitchell. And we know that the Knicks are pursuing Mitchell strongly.

So by simple reasoning, why would the same Jazz team that gave up Beverley for THT and Johnson, be trying to pry Barrett from the Knicks in an exchange for Mitchell? We don’t even need to compare Pat Bev and D Mitch. We already know who takes the crown between those two.

Obviously, it wasn’t intentional, but by trading Beverley to the Lakers for Horton-Tucker and Johnson, it further proved that RJ Barrett is the superior player between him and THT.

Sure, rankings and lists are fun, but at least try and make them somewhat agreeable, Bleacher Report.