Expect the unexpected.
That saying doesn’t usually go the Kings’ way, but for one night, maybe it did.
With the No. 12 overall selection in the 2020 NBA Draft, Sacramento stood their ground and waited to see who would fall. When the San Antonio Spurs jumped on Devin Vassell at pick No. 11, there was one name that stood out above all the rest - Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton.
“For a while, Sacramento has said they thought I was the perfect fit, that they felt like I’m one of the best players in the draft,” Haliburton told media members following his selection. “You just want to go somewhere where you’re wanted.”
Sacramento couldn’t get to the podium fast enough. Considered a top 10 selection at a minimum, Haliburton checks all of the boxes for the Kings and it’s hard to not see the pick as a huge win for new GM Monte McNair.
“I’m just a high IQ dude. I’m a student of the game of basketball, I love the game of basketball, so I spend a lot of time watching film, doing the little things that some people might not want to take the time to do.” -Haliburton
Haliburton pitched himself as a point guard during the draft process, but that might capture the totality of his skill set. Listed at 6-foot-5, 175 pounds, the 20-year-old can handle the ball and pass like a one, but he’s also spent plenty of time playing off the ball.
As a sophomore with the Cyclones, Haliburton posted 15.2 points, 6.5 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game. He played just 22 games due to a wrist injury, but he is healthy and ready to compete.
While he has an unorthodox shot, he managed to shoot 50.4 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from 3-point range on 5.6 attempts per game.
He has a flair for the dramatic as a passer and posted a very solid 6.5-to-2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio and his 35.3 percent assist percentage jumps off the page.
On the defensive side of the ball, he’ll need to get stronger, but there is a lot to like about his instincts. He averaged 2.5 steals per game and projects as an above average team defender.
How Haliburton fits in Sacramento
“I think I’m in a perfect spot. I love Sacramento, I love my fit here, so Rookie of the Year is most definitely my main goal.” -Haliburton
The Kings currently have De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield as their starting backcourt. Bogdan Bogdanovic will head into Friday’s free agency period as a restricted free agent after a deal that would have sent him to Milwaukee fell apart early on Wednesday.
In addition to Fox and Hield, the Kings also have veteran Cory Joseph on the roster to solidify the Kings’ four guard rotation. Haliburton can fit seamlessly with all three of these guards in the same way that Bogdanovic did last season. There is even a chance that he can fit into a three guard set in an uptempo offense.
There is a chance down the road that Haliburton earns his way into the starting lineup, but for now, he’s likely slated as the team’s super-sub off the bench while he gets stronger and acclimates to the NBA. He can come in and play either guard position and he’s a creator that should help take some of the pressure off of Fox.