LaMelo Ball may be receiving most of the praise among his fellow rookies, and deservedly so. However, there is one other rookie point guard who has flown under the radar to some. Meet the unsung Tyrese Haliburton.
Heading into the 2020 NBA Draft, Tyrese Haliburton was seen by scouts as a potential top 10 draft pick. Having played two seasons at Iowa State, Haliburton impressed scouts with his court vision and passing ability. To some, he was seen as the second-best point guard in the draft, behind Ball.
So when Haliburton fell to 12th overall, drafted by the Sacramento Kings, he was seen as a draft steal. With the Kings, he would play second fiddle to De’Aaron Fox, who had signed a contract extension that November. Sacramento had found themselves a secondary playmaker, one who could facilitate for the team’s second unit.
This season, the move to select Haliburton has paid off dividends for the Kings. In the thirty games he played so far, Haliburton has averaged 13.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game. He’s been shooting as well as expected, shooting .494 percent from the field and .433 percent from deep. Among qualified rookies, he has the second-best effective field goal percentage (.608 percent).
Here’s how Haliburton ranks in the major statistical categories among other rookies:
- 3rd in points per game
- 11th in rebounds per game
- 2nd in assists per game
- 2nd in win shares
Despite his fantastic rookie numbers, Haliburton doesn’t seem to get enough credit or media attention. Of course, most of this can be attributed to the lack of success with the Kings this season. With a record of 14-22, the Kings sit at 13th in the Western Conference. Still, Haliburton’s impact on the court cannot be overlooked.
So how does Haliburton impact the Kings?
One thing that Haliburton does well for Sacramento is orchestrating the offense, and filling in the gaps on the court. Not only does he find consistently open looks for his teammates, but he also keeps good care of the ball. Haliburton has only 2.4 turnovers per 100. Additionally, his assist percentage is in the 96th percentile among other guards.
Haliburton’s impact is also pretty noticeable in crunch time. Sacramento’s five-man group that’s used in crunch time – Haliburton, Fox, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, and Richaun Holmes – has outscored opponents by 18.4 points per 100 possessions.
All in all, Haliburton looks to be an integral part of the Kings’ core going forward.
Haliburton has proven himself this season to be a great fit for the Kings. Even with Fox as the primary ballhandler for Sacramento, Haliburton has shown his chops as a fantastic playmaking point guard, having a very high usage rate for a bench player.
LaMelo Ball may wind up winning the Rookie of the Year award at the end of the season, but Haliburton is a very close second. While Ball plays the game with an erratic style, making decisions in an instinctive manner, Haliburton’s play is more organized and concise, as he is very meticulous with passing the ball. As a result, Ball is seen as the flashier player, while Haliburton is the more methodical one.
Still, Haliburton’s thorough approach to the game is what makes the Kings a more exciting team to watch. His play is what helps elevates his team on the court, and with his steady control of the game, Haliburton could elevate Sacramento for years to come.