Is Tyrese Haliburton The Answer at Point Guard?
Tyrese Haliburton is a Sophomore point guard out of Iowa State who put up 15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 6.2 assists in 36.7 minutes per game; he did this all shooting 50.4% from the floor and 41.9% from behind the arc. He stands at 6'5" and weighs in at 175 lbs. Haliburton's shot is certainly unorthodox, but it's something scouts are willing to look past due to the fact that out of the 5.6 three-pointers Haliburton attempted on average each game, he cashed in on 2.4 of them - and many of them were from far behind the three-point line.
If things go well in Haliburton's development, the most important factors of which I will address later, I project him to be the kind of point guard respected by teams for keeping the entire show together. Haliburton won't be the focal point of your offense, or a prolific enough scorer and distributor to ever receive more than a couple all-star nods, but I believe he'll be able to be the perfect "glue guy" for any NBA offense.
He can operate very smoothly out of the pick and roll, making smart passes after receiving screens and knowing how to kick the ball out if he decides to use the screen and drive. Haliburton's teammates were horrific from behind the arc, especially on catch and shoot looks created out of the pick and roll by Haliburton, which certainly deflated his assist numbers. His shot makes him an off-ball threat as well, due to the fact that opposing teams will be forced to at least respect his catch and shoot ability. Haliburton finished his sophomore season in the 99th percentile as a spot-up player.
Haliburton isn't a bad finisher by any means when he finds himself in close proximity to the rim; the issue with that is the fact that Haliburton isn't the most aggressive of guards. His height enables him to make strong pushes to the paint, but what is honestly a lack of explosiveness prevents him from being a true threat as a penetrator.
Averaging 2.5 steals per game, Haliburton shows some prowess as a defender. I have doubts about his ability to become a lock-down individual defender because of his size; 175 pounds of anything isn't enough to stop the true forces that are today's driving point guards. Despite the lack of strength, Haliburton is a smart basketball player, and that will get him somewhere on defense. Simply put, he knows what's going on more often than other players do, and that allows him to be a solid team defender in that he's always conducting his team's defense, even if in the tiniest ways.
Haliburton communicates with his teammates, whether by telling them where to go or nudging them in the right direction. His impact on defense isn't necessarily physical, and his anticipatory style that leads to steals may also get him in trouble, but he should be able to become at least a high-level team defender at the NBA level. If he can improve his footwork on defense, get in the weight room, and we see that his shot translates to the NBA, Haliburton should find himself holding a starting role in most situations after garnering a few years of experience.
If I had to compare Haliburton to a current NBA player, I would have no choice but to choose Lonzo Ball. Purely statistically speaking, Ball put up 14.6pts/6.0reb/7.6ast per game on 55.1% shooting and 41.2% from three-point land. If Haliburton's teammates could have converted on just a slightly more normal percentage of those catch and shoot looks, those stats would be nearly identical. Both guards are tall for their position, have strange shooting forms, can play on and off the ball but contribute to the offense either way, and are extremely helpful on defense.
Tyrese Haliburton would be a good fit for the New York Knicks. His ability to run an offense, especially a pick and roll-heavy one that would feature Mitchell Robinson as the freakishly athletic lob-catcher on the receiving end of the plays, make him a fit in most situations in the modern NBA. Haliburton's shot, although abnormal, seems to go in - and the Knicks need a point guard that can shoot. He would be able to play off the ball when RJ is playing on it, and on the ball when RJ is not. He could share the floor well with Frank, and create an actual defensive wall of a backcourt. Haliburton certainly has a spot on this team.
I don't have an official big board, but Haliburton would be in the 6-10 range if I did. The Knicks are likely to end up with a pick in this range, and if Haliburton was the best player available on the board when they were picking, I would be happy to see them select him. If he wound up in New York, I think he would be a useful addition to the young core - even if not a flashy one. Drafting a point guard in this year's lottery, if they are the best player available when we are on the clock, would be a significantly preferable solution to the point guard situation to me than trading for Chris Paul.