This season’s draft was a little top-heavy. Shit, to call it just top-heavy is generous. Among all the well-known names to casual fans, there are always players who fly under the radar.
With the likes of Lamelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, and James Wiseman taking all the attention in the rookie class, there is one player that has thrown himself into the conversation. That man is Tyrese Haliburton of the Sacramento Kings. The name might be unfamiliar to casual fans, but that’s why I’m here, to put you on.
Haliburton is a 6'5 point guard who came out of Iowa State. Even though he was projected as a top 10 pick, he fell to 12 and landed in the hands of the Sacramento Kings. Haliburton’s claim to fame (in the basketball world at least) came in his sophomore year at Iowa State where he averaged 15 points, 6.5 assists, 6 rebounds, and 2.5 steals. In that same season, he shot 50% from the field, 42% from three, and 82% from the charity stripe. Aside from just the numbers, Haliburton played with a certain flair and comfort that not many college players possessed.
On the college level, Haliburton showcased his vision as a facilitator and shot-making ability when he was the off guard. It seems as if those skills have translated to the NBA. In eight games Haliburton is averaging 12 points, 2.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.4 steals while shooting 52% overall, 50% from three, and 89% from the line. It’s still early, yes, but it’s only right I overreact and give King’s fans something to look forward to. Haliburton put up those stats while coming off the bench and only starting one game. That type of production off of the bench for a rookie is nothing to just glance over. There are rookies who are starters and can’t seem to match this type of production.
Let’s be real unless you are a King’s fan or your team is playing them nobody is really checking for a King’s game. This all explains why Haliburton has gone under the radar for the beginning of this season, but what if you watch King’s games then you can see that those stats aren’t bullshit. Even as a rookie it’s safe to say that Haliburton is already one of the best facilitators on the team. Coming out of college his assist to turnover ratio was 4.5 which was top five in Iowa State’s history. Through eight games in the NBA Haliburton is tied with Chris Paul with a 5.3 assist to turnover ratio. His ability to take care of the ball and successfully run an offense is something that will bring the Kings to the next level. Haliburton has the ability to take some pressure off De’arron Fox and Buddy Hield allowing them to play off the ball and focus mainly on scoring. Whenever he’s in the game you notice a shift in the King’s offense. His ability to attack the defense and drop off no-look dimes brings a sense of excitement when watching him play whether it was for Iowa State or the Kings.
His ability to read the floor and pick out the best pass whether a hockey assist or direct one, adds much-needed playmaking to King’s offense. Haliburton’s intangibles come on the cerebral part of the game. The same way that he reads the defense when he has the ball in his hands, is the same way he reads the offense when he is on defense. His anticipation and reads off of the ball puts him on a rung above his peers. His length and size at the point guard position allow him to defend both guard positions and be effective. In my eyes, this all goes back to the two years he spent at Iowa State, especially since it’s not a major school. While he was there he was allowed to make mistakes, experiment and as a result, learn how to read the game.
Haliburton’s spot in the rotation is solidified. When he’s on the court with De’arron Fox he plays off-ball and this is where the most underrated part of his game comes. His jump shot. Part of the reason Haliburton fell to 12 was because of questions regarding his shot. While he shot 42% from three in college many scouts and talent evaluators didn’t his shot would translate to the NBA. His mechanics aren’t orthodox but it gets the job done( I mean he is shooting 50% from three). I’m no scout, I’m no talent evaluator but the funky form doesn’t really mean much, shooting is all about muscle memory if you ask me, then again what do I know.
So far Tyrese Haliburton has proven to be a steal, if not the steal of the 2020 draft. With barely any nationally televised games and all the social media hype following the top three picks, it’s no surprise many of you aren’t familiar with that boy Haliburton. Well, this is me telling you to tune in and give Haliburton some attention. In my view, he’s a hooper and more people should be aware of that. He’s only played in eight games but the potential is there and the IQ is there which will always spell out to be good for any team.
I’m calling it here early. There is a possibility Tyrese Haliburton could end his rookie season with the Rookie of the Year award in his trophy cabinet. Don’t say I didn’t call it.