2020 NBA Draft sleepers: Tyrese Haliburton's size, skills fit Warriors

2020 NBA Draft sleepers: Tyrese Haliburton's size, skills fit Warriors

Editor's Note: As the Warriors prepare for the 2020 NBA draft, NBC Sports Bay Area will present a twice-weekly series spotlighting two “Sleepers” likely to be evaluated. This is the first of a 12-part series on intriguing prospects considered risky to select among the top 10.

In their first naked display of long-range thinking, the Warriors paid $2.4 million for a second-round draft pick in 2016 and selected versatile, two-way guard Patrick McCaw, who showed glimpses of potential but eventually wanted out.

The retry came in 2018, with the Warriors using their first-round pick, No. 28 overall, to select Jacob Evans. He showed so few signs of progress over 1.5 seasons that the Warriors traded him.

The Warriors are contemplating Take III in 2020 and their willingness to move down in the first round could lead to Tyrese Haliburton, as versatile a two-way guard as there is in this draft.

Haliburton’s size and skills fit what the Warriors covet. They selected McCaw and Evans, both rangy and court-wise, after noting the mileage on reliable veterans Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston and realizing it was time to groom replacements.

It’s too late for Andre or Shaun to participate in real-time grooming. Inasmuch as Iguodala was traded last July and Livingston announced his retirement two months later, the next youngster entering the locker room with a similar profile must be ready to contribute.

Haliburton spent two seasons at Iowa State and emerged as the team leader as a sophomore in 2019-20. Like Livingston, he’s a gifted passer with a nice midrange turnaround jumper. Like Iguodala, he is antelope-like in transition and also has a knack for making an impact on defense.

Like most teams, the Warriors value length, so Haliburton’s 7-foot wingspan – one inch longer than those of Iguodala and Livingston – is exceedingly attractive.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The biggest warts on Haliburton are his thin frame, a few pounds north of McCaw, and his slow-trigger jumper, which is accurate all the way out from NBA 3-ball range but seems maybe blink quicker than that of Evans.

Haliburton’s shooting efficiency was on display last year in the FIBA U19 World Cup in Greece, where his numbers were superior to those of Klay Thompson and Jayson Tatum in such competition– though only Haliburton was tasked with running the offense.

There is no shortage of Haliburton comparisons. Some say Dejounte Murray, others say Dante Exum. Some say Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, others say a rangier Mike Conley. Some say Michael Carter-Williams with a jumper. Nearly all see shades of Lonzo Ball and consider Haliburton a point guard who also excels off the ball.

As a guest last month on the “Lightharted” podcast of Pelicans guard Josh Hart, Haliburton didn’t run from the Ball comparison while also adding a splash of humor.

“Every comparison that I ever see about me until I play my first game is going to be Lonzo,” Haliburton said. “We had basically similar college numbers. I have an unorthodox form like he does and I’m tall and light-skinned. So, you’re always going to hear that comparison. it makes sense. We play similar types of basketball.”

Though Haliburton’s season ended in February due to a fracture his left (non-shooting) wrist, he has moved from the 16-20 range to possible top 10.

If the Warriors target him, they will want to move down. The brain trust identified a need in 2016. Four years later, it’s still a need.

[RELATED: 2020 NBA Mock Draft 6.0]

Tyrese Haliburton profile

Position: Guard
Class: Sophomore
Birthdate: Feb. 29, 2000 (20)
Hometown: Oshkosh, WI
2019-20 stats: 12.3 points (50.4 percent FG, 41.9 percent 3p, 82.2 percent FT), 6.5 assists, 5.9 rebounds, 2.5 steals.
Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 180
Wingspan:7 feet
What they’re saying: “I think he’ll be terrific. He checks so many boxes. Nobody knew about him last year. As people came to practice to watch the guys we had on last year’s team, scouts kept asking me about Haliburton, Haliburton, Haliburton. They loved his basketball IQ, his floor demeanor, they loved his engagement with teammates, and they obviously loved his skill level.” – Iowa State coach Steve Prohm, to reporters when Haliburton announced he was entering the draft

Warriors NBA free agency targets: Five guards, wings team could sign

Warriors NBA free agency targets: Five guards, wings team could sign

NBA free agency is slated to open Oct. 18 at 3:00 p.m. PT.

Despite the fact that still is over three months away, it's never too early to look ahead.

Last week, Grant Liffmann listed six "under-the-radar" free agents the Warriors could target. And on Wednesday -- Monte Poole, Kerith Burke, Liffmann and yours truly advanced the discussion in the latest "Warriors Roundtable."

One player discussed in depth was Josh Jackson of the Memphis Grizzlies. The 23-year-old -- who was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft -- averaged 16.6 points, 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals over his last five games before the season was suspended, while shooting over 38 percent from deep.

How he plays in the Orlando "bubble" might greatly impact his earning potential on the open market, and it's possible the Warriors won't be able to afford him.

[RELATED: Why Kenny Smith used pickup analogy to describe Draymond]

Watch the video above to see the complete conversation.

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How LeBron James' Decision put him on path to become Warriors nemesis

How LeBron James' Decision put him on path to become Warriors nemesis

LeBron James put himself on a collision course with the Warriors a decade ago Wednesday.

Few would've guessed as much when James, then 25 years old and already the best basketball player on the planet, told Jim Gray and viewers nationwide that he'd take his talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat. James, after all, was leaving one of the saddest franchises in NBA history, spurning the Cleveland Cavaliers to link up with close friends Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The Warriors, then 35 years removed from their last NBA championship and a year away from drafting Klay Thompson, didn't have anything to do with it.

But James' departure from Cleveland planted the seeds for the prodigal son's return four years later, and the kid from Akron's titanic decision to leave set him on a path that would become inseparable from Golden State's by the end of the 2010s. You can trace the roots of the Warriors' cross-conference rivalry with the Cavs, as well as Kevin Durant's decision to sign with Golden State, to "The Decision" a decade ago.

James and the Cavaliers were the Warriors' biggest obstacle during their dynastic run, with the teams squaring off four straight times in the NBA Finals. But he might never have stood in Golden State's way if he never left Cleveland.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

While James surely could've done without the instantaneous, visceral backlash from his hometown fans, or the childish letter penned in Comic Sans by Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, he told Lee Jenkins -- then with Sports Illustrated -- in 2014 that he always knew he was going to return to Cleveland at some point.

"When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission," James said at the time. "I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio."

The Cavaliers seemingly prepared for the possibility, too. Going an NBA-worst 97-215 in James' absence helped Cleveland compile high pick after high pick who would either play alongside James (Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson) or be used in trades to acquire other pieces (Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins). If James stays in 2010, it goes without saying the Cavaliers aren't picking in the lottery over the next four years. Former general manager David Griffin and the Cavs' front office instead eventually built a contender around James, whereas Griffin's Miami counterparts would've had a much more difficult time remaining one.

Even if James stayed with the Heat, president Pat Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg were without multiple first-round picks thanks to the sign-and-trades that brought James and Bosh to the Heat in the first place. Young talent was needed, in hindsight, as Wade got older and Bosh eventually retired due to his blood clotting condition. Miami couldn't have provided that, and it's thus difficult to envision James as the Warriors' nemesis while staying on South Beach.

James still would've been close to the peak of his powers, but the Heat wouldn't have been as formidable a challenge for the Warriors as James' Cavaliers were in their first two Finals matchups. A hypothetical Warriors-Heat Finals in 2015 probably is even more one-sided than the San Antonio Spurs' gentlemen's sweep of the Heat a year prior, and who's to say if Miami would've remained on its Eastern Conference perch much longer than that.

Leaving Cleveland also indirectly ensured the Cavaliers wouldn't win more than one championship during James' second stint in Ohio. James' decision led to backlash in the league's front offices, too, ensuring the institution of a harsher luxury tax. The Oklahoma City Thunder ultimately justified trading James Harden because of said luxury tax, as Tim Bontemps noted while writing for The Washington Post in 2016, which surely contributed to Kevin Durant's eventual departure for the Warriors. James' decision also showed superstars that they could control their own destinies, narratives be damned.

[RELATED: Wild stats from Steph's first game vs. LeBron's Heat team]

If the Heat's Big 3 never forms, does the NBA's next collective bargaining agreement even include a provision designed to stop free agents from forming super-teams? If the Thunder never break up, do the Warriors ever get past a team led by Durant, Harden and Russell Westbrook? If James stays in Cleveland, is a player of Durant's caliber even willing to leave OKC in the first place?

When James said those infamous seven words 10 years ago, nobody could've known he was charting a path that inevitably would intertwine with the Warriors' own. Had James' decade-old decision gone differently, the Warriors' recent past would look unquestionably unrecognizable.