What’s popping on Air-Ball
What’s popping on Air-Ball:
- WHY JOEL EMBIID AND THE SIXERS MAY BE CLOSER TO COMPLETING THE PROCESS THAN WE ALL THOUGHT
- BUY OR SELL: RAPTORS AND NUGGETS COMING AROUND, MAVERICKS AND CAVS DARK TIMES AHEAD
- WHY BROWN, SEXTON AND VANVLEET SHOULD BE FIRST TIME ALL-STARS
- BAM ADEBAYO CONTINUES TO DEFY THE ODDS ON A PATH TO NBA SUPERSTARDOM
- THE LEAP OF JAYLEN BROWN
If you aren’t tired of the “how did Tyrese Haliburton fall in the draft” podcast segments yet I promise you will be because we’re going to be asking that for the rest of his career. Haliburton is just special. Some dudes you can just see it with them right away in the NBA that there’s something there and Haliburton is one of those guys. They’re very different players in different situations but he really reminds me of Donovan Mitchell where like 20 games in in Utah we were all like ‘okay, this is going to be a thing.’ Well I’m here to tell you we were right about Mitchell and we’re going to be right about Haliburton. As a rookie, on a bad team mind you, the Kings have eight five-man lineups that are a positive per 100 possessions. Haliburton is on the six best of them. What I also love is his versatility defensively. I was watching the fourth quarter of their matchup against the Clippers and Haliburton was holding his own guarding one through three. His ability to guard up in the lineup is integral on a team like this one where Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox are also ideally part of the future and therefore you’d need to run all three together. Having a potential plus defender in Haliburton could be a gamechanger in their future and allow for the team to feel safer in keeping both Hield and Fox around. Much like Patrick Williams next, I’m not sure of Haliburton’s ceiling. At times he flashes all-star level skill but I don’t know if he’ll ever have the shot creation to get to that level. He is already though a plus in essentially every facet of the game. He’s also a lock to be in discussions of draft steals for years to come. Get ready for the segments Suns fans, you better hope Jalen Smith isn’t this draft’s Luke Kennard (or worse).
To be quite honest with you, not a ton has changed about Patrick Williams since I first wrote about him a couple of weeks ago. Here’s the thing though, as I was watching Bulls Magic on a Saturday night alone (welcome to my life) he was just too fun not to write about again. Williams does all the little things that you don’t expect from a rookie. His positioning is good, his defence is fine and to be frank, he just knows how to play. For a guy who never started at Florida State, it’s pretty fascinating to watch him now and wonder how he does this with so few reps outside of high school. If you haven’t watched a Bulls game yet (and I can’t say I blame you), Williams even has a signature move already. Somehow he’s an absolute knockdown on a one or two dribble pull-up to the midrange. How he landed on this being his go-to is interesting in this analytics age but nonetheless, he’s super good at it so who cares? He’s fluid, knows where he’s going and rises up with confidence every time. It’s hard to ask for more than that out of a 10-year vet let alone a rookie. His teammate Otto Porter Jr should take some notes, that’s all I’m saying. I don’t know what Williams’ ceiling is like if he’ll be an All-Star or something. However, I will say he’s fun to watch and Bulls fans should be excited because I think he’s the first real building block they’ve gotten in the draft since their post-Jimmy Butler rebuild.
Basic Game Log (10th Career Game to 23rd Career Game)
For the first time in what feels like 25 years, my favourite undrafted rookie isn’t a Toronto Raptor. In fact much like his current teammate PJ Tucker, Jae’Sean Tate checks another box I will always have a soft spot for. The guys who go undrafted and then tear it up overseas before finally getting their chance in the NBA. Players like this who have to go far away and then earn everything play with a different intensity than the average NBA player and it’s something that’ll always appeal to me. Tate is no different than the many guys like this who came before him. After a first-team All-NBL performance in Australia last year and a year before that when he was an All-Star and champion in Belgium, Tate has come into the NBA on a mission. Every possession he competes so it’s no secret he conflicted with James Harden before Harden was traded since one guy gives everything all-game and at that point, the other guy was giving nothing. What’s most fun about Tate this season in the NBA is it isn’t like he’s a random role player barely getting ten minutes a game. He’s actually a starter and key rotational piece for a Rockets team trying to make the playoffs. As a guy consistently doubted throughout his career, he’s a perfect fit on the All-They-Doubted-Us-Rockets with John Wall, Christian Wood, Victor Oladipo, DeMarcus Cousins, Tucker and more. If you haven’t gotten a chance yet, give the Rockets a watch because I promise you, Tate will stand out as a key role-player in this league for years to come.