If Tyrese Haliburton lands with the Bulls after the Nov. 18 NBA draft, his confidence is coming with him.
“I really and truly feel I’m the best facilitator in this draft, the best shooter in this draft and one of the highest basketball IQs,” Haliburton said Wednesday on a Zoom call with reporters. “Obviously, I have that confidence in myself. I feel that’s what separates me. But obviously, I’m not the one that makes the decisions Nov. 18.”
So he’s confident and accurate since, obviously, the 30 NBA teams decide the draft order. That includes the Bulls, who own the No. 4 pick and a new management regime -- and who Haliburton confirmed represented one of the four teams for whom he worked out.
“I enjoyed it. The guys in Chicago are real cool,” Haliburton said. “Obviously, with basically a front office overhaul, it really flowed like a conversation more than like an interrogation or interview.
“I had a good workout. They liked what they saw. I think I fit well in Chicago. Obviously with two guards in Coby (White) and Zach (LaVine) who can score at a high level, I think I can come in right away and be somebody who can take the burden off them and facilitate. But also, with them wanting the ball in their hands at the same time, I can be a guy that plays off the ball and knocks down shots. So whatever is needed in Chicago, or any organization for that matter, I’m ready to do.”
Haliburton, who said he also worked out for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors and Detroit Pistons, is listed as a point guard in a draft deep at that position. But most scouts project the 6-foot-5 prospect as a combo guard.
Beyond his confidence level, Haliburton believes his work ethic separates him from that crowded point guard pack, which also features potential lottery picks LaMelo Ball, Killian Hayes and Kira Lewis Jr.
“I just think my overall basketball IQ,” he said, when asked what differentiates him from the other prospects. “I’m really a student of the game. I love the game of basketball, so I’m really obsessed with it. I spend a lot of time watching film or in the gym or just doing something that’s basketball-related. I think that separates me.”
Haliburton said he has been focused on “tightening up” his handle, shooting off the dribble and finishing at the rim from his workout base of Las Vegas. There, he has rubbed elbows with current and past NBA players, including Gilbert Arenas.
Haliburton credited the former Wizards All-Star guard with helping him try to understand angles to get to his preferred spots on the floor. He also said Arenas helped him try to simplify his game, which squares with his big-picture approach to the difficult nature of this predraft process.
Thanks to the pandemic disrupting the NBA calendar, rookies will report to training camps just 13 days after getting drafted -- without the benefit of summer league.
“I guess it might be a missed development opportunity... But I think baptism by fire is the best way to go about it,” Haliburton said. “I think it’s going to make or break some people. Learning on the fly is how I usually learn best. Obviously, it’s a different time. But none of us guys know any better. We’re just ready for what’s thrown at us and we don’t really have a choice but to be ready.”