Tyrese Haliburton is turning heads, not just in Sacramento, but nationally. He’s wise beyond his years on the basketball court and he’s becoming must see TV, even for an East Coast basketball junky like The Ringer’s Bill Simmons.
On a recent episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast, Simmons and Ryen Russillo discuss Haliburton and how well he is fitting in with the Kings. The duo even discussed a redraft of the 2020 NBA Draft and have Haliburton much higher than anyone would have expected before the season began.
“I’d go [James] Wiseman, Haliburton, LeMelo [Ball],” Simmons said. “I’d still have LaMelo third. As great as I think LeMelo is, I just think Haliburton is going to be a multi-time all-star.”
Simmons believes Wiseman can be special, and that Ball is a player that is really fun to watch, but Haliburton is a winner.
“Haliburton can be one of the best three guys on a championship team,” Simmons said.
This is incredibly high praise from Simmons, but the early returns may warrant the compliment.
Through his first 10 games, Haliburton is averaging 12.6 points, 5.7 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 28.6 minutes per game for Sacramento. The 20-year-old is also shooting an incredible 54.1 percent from the floor, 52.1 percent from 3-point range and has a Player Efficiency Rating of 22.0.
“This is why the advanced metrics people liked his game so much -- he didn’t need to have the ball to have a real effect on games on both ends,” Simmons said. “The team’s defense is always better when he’s out there. The offensive efficiency, whether he has the ball or not. He just knows how to play with other guys.”
Simmons goes as far as to say that if the Suns would have selected Haliburton at No. 10, two picks ahead of where the Kings landed the Iowa State star, they would be the second best team in the Western Conference.
Sacramento, who came up short in their quest for a playoff berth last season, chose to push for wins instead of tanking down the stretch of the regular season. It cost them in standings and in the final draft order, but they seem to have overcome that disadvantage and come away with a stellar young player.
“The Kings, who just step in s***, come up with one of the three best rookies,” Simmons quipped.
It’s early, but Haliburton is a breath of fresh air for Sacramento. He has an uncanny ability to seamlessly fit in with any lineup and he’s made the Kings a better squad already. In his first draft as general manager of the Kings, Monte McNair found a keeper, and the rest of the league is starting to take notice.