Tyrese Haliburton earned his time of reflection after career year with Indiana Pacers

Haliburton had a wonderful season for the Pacers
Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton speaks to the media during his exit interview after the 2023-24 NBA Season. (Mandatory Photo Credit: Pacers On SI)
Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton speaks to the media during his exit interview after the 2023-24 NBA Season. (Mandatory Photo Credit: Pacers On SI) /
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INDIANAPOLIS — Tyrese Haliburton keeps getting better and reaching new heights. Last year, his first full season with the Indiana Pacers, he was a fringe All-Star. This year, he was an All-NBA level guard and a leader for a Conference Finals team.

That ascent has overlapped with the Pacers' improvement as a team. They went from 25 to 35 to now 47 wins in the seasons since acquiring Haliburton, and he is under contract for five more years. There's plenty more to come for Haliburton in the Circle City.

"This is the best season of my life, no question," Haliburton said of his 2023-24 before a short pause. "Up until this point, though."

The star guard averaged 20.1 points and 10.9 assists per game this season. That second number led the NBA and is a key part of what makes the Pacers who they are. The ball is always moving, and that starts with their star. He is unselfish despite being an efficient scorer on his own, and it makes everyone else more effective.

Indiana was far better when Haliburton was on the court than on the bench. In the playoffs, that gap widened. He means so much to his team, and yet his team means so much to him.

"I'm just really proud of our group. We had an amazing year," Haliburton said at his exit interview last week. After a few years out of the playoffs, the Pacers climbed to the Eastern Conference Finals this season, which was exciting for everyone.

But in Haliburton's eyes, the work is just beginning. If Indiana's postseason run is going to be the first of many, this team will have to keep their current mentality.

"I think just continuing to play with that chip on our shoulder. I think we're a roster full of guys with chips on our shoulder. And understand that we haven't arrived by any means," Haliburton began. "We had a great year. Did something that I don't think anybody anticipated that we'd be capable of doing by making the Eastern Conference Finals. But understanding you've still got to have the chip on your shoulder. It's a whole new thing. Now we have to prove that this year wasn't a fluke and that we're capable of doing this."

That's who Tyrese Haliburton is. He is always looking ahead to the next thing and the upcoming challenge. That, and his perfectionist style, makes him a constantly-improving teammate. During this 2023-24 exit interview, he spent time talking about how exciting next year will be for the Pacers.

Yet a key thing for Haliburton in the coming weeks and months before his next training camp will be reflecting. Taking stock of the season he just had, and what it means for the arc of his career, is just as important as looking ahead. This season launched the guard into stardom. It's important to reflect on those special moments.

"Obviously it's hard to reflect. It's only been days since the season ended," Haliburton said at his exit interview. "But it's hard to take the time to reflect. I think we all as human beings can do a better job of reflecting and understanding how great of lives we all live."

That sentiment is a repeat of something Haliburton shared just before the Conference Finals began. Less than two hours before the Pacers battled the Boston Celtics for Game 1, Haliburton was asked if he's had a chance to reflect during the postseason. "Every night I guess, before I go to sleep. I think that's kind of at the end of this, the reflection part. In the moment, you can't really think about stuff like that," he told Pacers on SI.

In that instant, he stressed the importance of every playoff game, a necessary perspective. That's how he was able to stay locked in during every series. He would celebrate the night of a series victory, then it was on to the next thing or upcoming opponent.

Now, though, Haliburton has his chance to follow through on his words and reflect. He mentioned that he will do so in the coming weeks as he rehabs and gets ready to play for Team USA in the Olympics, and it's important that he does so. He just had an epic season.

Haliburton became just the sixth player in Pacers history to be named to an All-NBA team. He joined Reggie Miller, Jermaine O'Neal, Paul George, Roy Hibbert, Victor Oladipo, and Domantas Sabonis as the only multi-time All-Stars in franchise history. From an accolades perspective, it was an impressive year.

That doesn't even account for his statistical production. His assists per game and total assists number led the NBA this season. He tied the NBA record for consecutive 20+ point and 20+ assist games on the same night that he tied the Pacers record for assists in one outing. His 752 assists are the most by a Pacers player in one season, and it took just 69 games for him to get there.

On top of all that, he led Indiana to the In-Season Tournament Title game and the Eastern Conference Finals. That's what Haliburton needs to reflect on. It was one of the best seasons in Pacers history on both an individual and team level. Taking a moment to realize that could do wonders for the forward-looking star.

"We have a great group of guys who really, genuinely have a lot of love for each other. I'm just really thankful that I've been here and been a part of building that culture here," Haliburton said. "We're going to continue to do that and continue to do great things."

Reflection can help Haliburton realize how special this past season was. It may also reveal something that he already shared: he can't take it for granted. If Indiana wants to reach the mountaintop, Haliburton will be a big part of it — and he knows that.

"I look forward to continuing to learn in my career," he said. More reflection, more learning, and more improvement from Haliburton could make him even better next year as the Pacers move into an era that will feature expectations.

  • The Pacers made it to the Eastern Conference Finals faster than they thought. What does that mean in the offseason? CLICK HERE.
  • 'He's done a phenomenal job': Indiana Pacers GM discusses head coach Rick Carlisle. CLICK HERE.
  • Report: 'Mutual interest' between Indiana Pacers and Pascal Siakam in NBA free agency. CLICK HERE.
  • Where Indiana Pacers players finished in voting for 2024 NBA league awards. CLICK HERE.
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  • Follow AllPacers on Twitter: @SIPacers

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Tony East


Tony East is the Publisher of AllPacers. He has previously written for Forbes Sports, the West Indianapolis Community News, WTHR, and more while hosting the Locked On Pacers podcast.