The Kings aren’t off to a great start to the 2020-21 season, but they have a pair of young guards who are becoming media darlings, even on a national stage.
De’Aaron Fox covered a variety of topics last week on the All That Smoke Podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. This week, Tyrese Haliburton joined J.J. Redick and Tommy Alter on the Old Man and the Three podcast to discuss Draft night 2020.
One of the more interesting moments came when Haliburton admitted that he has a list of bad takes from draft experts and he has high hopes of proving the naysayers wrong.
“I keep little notes all the time about what people say,” Haliburton said. “I love being able to get a jab in through social media, just to mess around. I definitely got some stuff bookmarked on my phone of some pretty terrible quotes and they’ll hear from me shortly.”
Clearly, Haliburton is using the bulletin board material as motivation. It isn't just talking heads that are fueling the 20-year-old guard. 11 teams passed on him during the draft, although he's very happy where he landed.
“Going into the night, I think there were a couple of teams that I thought I had a really good chance to...Golden State, Chicago, Detroit or New York or whatever would happen,” Haliburton said. “I met with Sac literally one time, two days before the draft and they were like, 'man, we’re talking about trading up to get you, we really like you.'”
An NBA source has confirmed to NBC Sports California that the Warriors were extremely interested in Haliburton with the No. 2 overall pick, but big man James Wiseman was too good to pass on. If they would have moved back a spot or two, Haliburton would have very well been the target.
Chicago, Detroit and New York had their own reasoning for passing on the Iowa State star, but all three are likely kicking themselves now.
As for the Kings, they waited patiently for Haliburton to fall and then pounced. There were cheers in the war room in Sacramento and through the first 14 games of the regular season, Haliburton has made the front office look like geniuses.
“I think it’s the perfect fit because I think what’s best for me right now at this stage of my career is to play along another ball-dominant guy, that’s just kinda where the NBA is going, is just having two point guards on the floor a lot,” Haliburton said.
Despite the Kings’ record, the future with Fox and Haliburton acting as a one-two punch in the backcourt looks very promising. In his 12 games as a pro, Haliburton is averaging 11.1 points, 5.3 assists and 1.2 steals in 28 minutes per game for Sacramento.
He looks extremely comfortable at the NBA level and has drawn rave reviews from both his teammates and coaches. Haliburton credits the team’s play style and the faith that his coach has instilled in him early.
“I think coach Walton gives us a lot of freedom and it’s up to us if we want to take advantage of that, truly,” Haliburton said. “I think that helps a lot.”
Haliburton still has hopes of winning the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award. He’s played extremely well early in the season and if he continues to develop, the accolades will come. So will the opportunity to roast those who questioned him as a prospect.