It wouldn’t be the NBA Draft without a couple of non-freshman who rose out of nowhere to top ten selections. Although Obi Toppin comes to mind for most in this category for the 2020 Draft, the player of that ilk with the highest ceiling is actually Tyrese Haliburton.
Haliburton is a 6’5 point guard with a seven-foot wingspan who in his two years at Iowa State, improved more than anyone in the country.
His coming-out party to the national NBA audience didn’t come until after his freshmen season when he was integral in United States Gold Medal at the FIBA U-19 World Cup in the summer of 2019. He would use his momentum from the tournament to help him to an All-Big 12 selection this past season as he jumped up virtually all of his numbers as a sophomore.
The most important thing you need to know about him is that he’s arguably the most cerebral player in the draft.
Offensively, he is right with Killian Hayes and LaMelo Ball as passers, having every single one his bag and excelling in the pick and roll and transition. Defensively, he’s already extremely active off-ball and with his great length, was able to average 2.5 steals a game this past season.
What’s most fun about Haliburton is his concerns are things that should be readily fixable.
His jump shot is probably the most bizarre one for a guard since Lonzo with the big difference being Haliburton knocked down 41.9 per cent from three last season. As much often as it goes in, there’s no doubt it’s concerning how long it takes him to get it off and, how awkward it can look when he creates off the dribble.
Right now, he’s much more of a set shooter than a shot creator which is a concern in 2020 as a point guard.
He shows an okay feel for getting to his spots and does finish well with a floater and around the rim but until he can take someone off the dribble and take a jumper, it’ll be tough for him to reach his full potential.
A big reason for positivity though is just how much he’s improved already in his young career. From year one to two at Iowa State his leap was seismic so, if there’s anyone who can fix their biggest flaws, you wouldn’t be crazy to bet on the guy who has already shown a capability to do so.
As with many players as well, Haliburton also needs to add a significant level of strength. We love the size and length now however, there’s no doubt he can get pushed around with his current body type. If you draft him, you’re hoping he adds a bunch of muscle quickly to help with creating space and on the defensive end as well.
Haliburton’s biggest critics tend to fall into two categories.
They either aren’t believers in the longevity of his jumper or, worry about his lack of explosiveness and strength. For me, I take these concerns with a grain of salt, instead choosing to focus on the known quantities I love in his game.
His passing ability is really special, reminding me a lot of a UCLA Lonzo Ball. The way he moves is eerily reminiscent of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, as both just have a way of gliding around the court.
Haliburton’s concerns are warranted and until they’re fixed you obviously can never be sure but, I also love to bet on players who have shown two things: a consistent improvement over time and, an elite basketball intelligence.
The only real thing he’s missing mentally is at times he’s timid. It makes you wonder if he’s actually a non-aggressive player or more in the mold of a Ben Simmons where his basketball IQ is so high he knows what he struggles with and refuses to put himself in bad situations.
Regardless, there’s a ton to love here with his game. Haliburton feels like a player born to play on a good team the way he moves the ball and is a team player. If he were put on a bad team and asked to create a bunch, he would probably struggle a lot early on which is where a lot of the critics come in.
For me though, I tend to be much more of a fan of guys that help you win over good stats bad team guys that excel in irrelevant NBA minutia.
I don’t think he ever becomes a star but as a third or fourth option on a good team, there’s no reason at all to believe he wouldn’t be an integral part of its success.
|2018-19||Iowa State||Big 12||35||34||33.2||2.5||4.8||.515||1.1||1.5||.685||1.4||3.2||.434||0.5||0.7||.692||0.7||2.7||3.4||3.6||1.5||0.9||0.8||1.3||6.8||9.30|
|2019-20||Iowa State||Big 12||22||22||36.7||5.6||11.1||.504||3.2||5.5||.592||2.4||5.6||.419||1.7||2.0||.822||1.5||4.4||5.9||6.5||2.5||0.7||2.8||1.3||15.2||10.07|
- A winning player who’s ability to move the ball and defend allows him to stick and contribute for a long time as a really good player
- Lonzo Ball- Elite passer, weird release, really good defender and overall smart player, this comp is too obvious to ignore.
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander- Long and lanky skilled guard who when watching can only be described as smooth in the way he operates.
- Delon Wright- A long and smart player who isn’t the best athlete but makes up for it with smarts and feel for the game.
- Elite playmaker everywhere on the court
- A knockdown set shooter from deep
- Great length and size helps him see through traffic and defend at a high-level
- Great instincts on both ends which comes out in his feel for skip passes and great anticipation defensively on steals
- Finishes at the rim better than expected
- Can’t create his own shot
- Funky release that despite the fact it goes in, makes you worry particularly with how slow it is
- Not a great athlete, particularly lacks explosion
- Footwork at both ends has to improve