Tyrese Haliburton exploded on to the national scene as a sophomore at Iowa State. Haliburton wasn’t a focal point of the team’s game plan as a freshman, but with increased usage in his second season, he blossomed into a surefire lottery pick.
Height: 6’ 5”
Wingspan: 6’ 8” (estimated)
Weight: 175 pounds
Strengths: passing, pick-and-roll offense, spot-up shooting, perimeter defense
LaMelo Ball has a stranglehold on the “best passer” title among 2020 NBA Draft prospects, but Haliburton is firmly in second-place. He runs the pick-and-roll like a seasoned veteran and makes crisp passes from a variety of positions and angles, many of them one-handed, in mid-air, or both.
Found this clip from March 18 on my laptop and I don't know if I've already tweeted it, but hell yeah this is cool pic.twitter.com/OmA1gAoFq3— Chase Whitney (@chasewhitney_) July 15, 2020
Haliburton is one of those players that sees things on the floor before they actually happen. “Court vision” is a trait that a lot of players have, but he has a rare sort of predictive court vision, especially among players that are 6’ 5”. He uses his eyes and his dribble to move defenders to the spot he wants them in, and then he can complete any kind of pass to the open man. His manipulation skills as a passer are very impressive, and should offset his slight lack of athleticism in the NBA.
On day one, Haliburton will be a high-end pick-and-roll player in the NBA. This is where his passing ability shines brightest; his manipulative body movements keep bigger defenders off balance, and he has solid change-of-pace to get by guard defenders. The precision with which he makes his passes in pick-and-rolls is truly insane at times. Haliburton has mastered the dump-off and wrap-around passes that are necessary to make in the NBA. Not having a viable pull-up jumper will have defenses looking for the pass when he’s going downhill, but he’s so creative and smart with the ball in his hands that it isn’t a huge worry.
Though Haliburton does not have gravity as a pull-up shooter, he’s lights-out in catch-and-shoot situations. I do not have personal access to this stat, but I’ve seen multiple people tweet/write about him being in the 99th percentile among all college players in spot-up shooting situations, which seems pretty good.
If Hali can release this quickly all the time, he should be fine. He does a good job finding his spot off-ball in the press break here too. pic.twitter.com/jB5L82JU0D— Chase Whitney (@chasewhitney_) April 8, 2020
Haliburton can shoot coming off of screens, and he has a great feel for locating the open spot on the floor when another ball-handler is running the offense. His .508 3-point attempt rate coupled with a 41.9 3-point percentage is elite-level shooting, and that came as the clear-cut best player and shooter on his team. NBA defenses won’t be paying as much attention to him, so there’s no reason to believe that he won’t be an above-average shooter at the next level.
At 175 pounds, Haliburton is limited to defending guards at this point, but he has the length and lateral quickness to potentially become a multi-positional defender, perhaps being able to handle forwards in a pinch. His defensive IQ is very high, and he had a lot of responsibility on that end on a poor Iowa State team. His hands are always up and active in passing lanes; he was fifth in the Big 12 with 54 steals in 22 games
For as good as he is with the ball in pick-and-rolls, he can defend it, too. Haliburton plays with an edge that is refreshing to watch, he crashes the boards with aggression and rarely loses focus off-ball on the defensive end. With some added weight, he has potential to handle the opposing team’s best perimeter player on a nightly basis once he develops.
Weaknesses: off-the-dribble scoring, frame/athleticism, finishing
Pull-up shooting, and off-the-dribble scoring in general, is an area that Haliburton needs to improve. His shot release is pretty slow as-is, but when shooting off-the-dribble it’s even more noticeable.
Speeding up the dribble-to-shot transition should allow him to get cleaner looks (with more space to shoot) that closely resemble his spot-up shot, thus forcing defenses to respect him more as a pull-up shooter, which opens up passing lanes for cutters and other shooters. Simply put, Haliburton adding a pull-up jumper would make him really good, though it’s almost non-existent at this stage.
Another old one, Haliburton needs a pull-up jumper really badly. He has space to let it fly here but he just dribbles into his defender and passes it off pic.twitter.com/0CMwwrCQSs— Chase Whitney (@chasewhitney_) July 15, 2020
Haliburton has good size and length at 6’ 5” with an estimated 6’ 8” wingspan, but his 175-pound frame isn’t going to hold up against bigger guards in the NBA. He didn’t add much to his frame at Iowa State, but an NBA strength and conditioning program should help him bulk up a bit. He doesn’t need to be some macho man because that would probably compromise his quickness, but some more meat on his bones would do him well when attacking bigs lurking underneath the rim and having to finish through heavy contact.
At this stage, Haliburton is not a great scorer in the paint, but adding some muscle to his frame would surely alleviate that issue a bit. Honestly, he’ll never need to be a player that makes a living in the paint; his outside shot is accurate already (albeit with a slow release), and his playmaking is one of his best traits. If defenders are forced to respect his attacks/cuts to the rim, he’ll have that much more room to operate on the perimeter, whether it be making a play for a teammate, or finding his spot for a 3-pointer.
Haliburton posted 7.0 assists and 3.0 turnovers per-40 minutes with an assist percentage of 35.3, along with a 63.1 true shooting percentage on a .508 3-point attempt rate. He was second in the Big 12 with 142 total assists despite playing just 22 games due to a broken wrist. On top of that, he put up per-game numbers of 15.2 points, 6.5 assists, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.5 steals with a 50.4 percent FG/41.9 percent 3PT/82.2 percent FT shooting split. Haliburton’s statistical profile is one of the best in this draft class, and even if he doesn’t turn into a star, he’s very likely to at least be a rotational player in the league.
As for the fit with the Hornets, Haliburton would slide into either the first or second unit seamlessly, being a versatile guard can that shoot from distance that has the size to defend two’s while being the lead ball-handler on offense. Haliburton-PJ Washington pick-and-rolls with Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier lurking in the corners for spot-up 3-pointers, and Miles Bridges waiting for a backdoor pass in the dunker spot... delicious. Everything depends on how the lottery shakes out and where the Hornets end up in the draft, but if the Hornets stay at eight, Tyrese Haliburton is a mighty fine option.