NBA Future Watch: Tyrese Haliburton, Excellence in IndianaNBA Future Watch: Tyrese Haliburton, Excellence in IndianaTyrese Haliburton is emerging strong at the outset of his third season. He is inadvertently thwarting the Pacers “taking a step back to take a step forward” to have a chance at drafting Victor Wembanyama. That said, if Haliburton can maintain his present excellence at both scoring and distribution, Indiana will not be heartbroken.

The signs that Haliburton could emerge as a legitimate MVP candidate render the deal that Sacramento made last February to offload him even more inexplicable. Haliburton fell to the Kings at #12 overall in the 2020 NBA Draft largely based on positional need. Many teams ahead of them didn’t require a point guard and didn’t need to slot him in at shooting guard, which he has the size to play at 6’5”. And yet, Sacramento brought him into their own crowded backcourt! As such, when the decision was made to thin the ranks at guard, Indiana’s gain was their loss.

Haliburton entered the NBA much ballyhooed for not only his talent, but for his intangiblescharacter, hustle, leadership and coachability – the likes of which few players possess. At Iowa State, Haliburton displayed the characteristics that helped him lead Oshkosh North High School to a Wisconsin State Championship. He also contributed to a United States gold medal at the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup in Greece. Notching .434 and .419 3% in two years for the Cyclones, Haliburton proved that his offense had the most important element in the modern NBA game.

NBA Future Watch: Tyrese Haliburton, Excellence in IndianaHaliburton forced his way into a prominent place in Sacramento’s rotation as a rookie with 13.0 PPG and 5.3 APG – also achieving .409 3% and .857 FT%, thus demonstrating what he could have done with even more playing time. His second season was split between the Kings and Pacers. The sharp uptick in key categories after the trade (from 14.3 to 17.5 PPG and from 7.4 to 9.6 APG) illustrated that Haliburton was past the “imagine what he could do” portion of his career.

The cousin of NBA star Eddie Jones and a Leap Year baby who’s only celebrated five literal birthdays in his life, Haliburton has proven to be even more noteworthy on the court. In his breakout season with 21.6 PPG and 9.9 APG, .453 3% and .878 FT%, Haliburton is establishing himself as one of the best shooters in the league. That designation has never meant more. The only NBA Eastern Conference Championship ever earned by the Pacers came mere months after Haliburton’s birth in 2000. But Haliburton and super-rookie Bennedict Mathurin are providing reasons to believe they could accomplish what even Paul George and Danny Granger could not. They could go beyond Reggie Miller’s conference championship.

NBA Future Watch: Tyrese Haliburton, Excellence in Indiana – Stats

NBA Future Watch: Tyrese Haliburton, Excellence in IndianaStatistical image generated on Sports Reference 11/15/2022.


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Rick Morris

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