Wizards

Haliburton says he's the best passer in this NBA Draft class

Wizards

Iowa State's Tyrese Haliburton can do many things well, which makes him arguably the most versatile player in the 2020 NBA Draft class. There is one skill, however, that he believes sets him apart most among his peers.

"I think I facilitate better than anybody in this draft," Haliburton said in an NBA Draft Combine videoconference.

That's a strong claim as this year is deeper at point guard than any other position. And there are several guards known for their passing vision, like LaMelo Ball who could be one of the first players off the board.

Haliburton, though, is confident in his abilities after a year at Iowa State in which he averaged 15.2 points, 6.5 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 2.5 steals. He believes his well-rounded game makes him able to succeed off the ball as well.

“I think I can run a team right away. If you want me to play the two and knock down shots and defend, I think I can do that as well," he said. 

It is not rare for a draft prospect to talk himself up in this setting, as they are making the case to be drafted with a high pick when little separates them from other, elite college stars. Haliburton has also backed it up so far in his basketball career, succeeding as a shooting guard when he was a freshman and then as a point guard in his sophomore year.

Haliburton says he has only interviewed with three teams so far: the Warriors, Knicks and Pistons. The Warriors pick second overall, the Knicks seventh and the Pistons eighth. Haliburton is showing up on mock drafts anywhere from the top-four picks to the back-end of the top-10.

 

One question he is likely going to get from teams in pre-draft interviews is about his shooting mechanics. He has a low release, which he has been working on, particularly when shooting from long range off the dribble, he says. The concern would be his shot may be more easily blocked at the NBA level where defenders are longer and much quicker than in college.

Haliburton, though, shot 42.6 percent from three at Iowa State on 4.2 attempts per game. He believes that should speak for itself, and seemed motivated by questions involving his shooting form.

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"I think it's so overblown the stuff about my mechanics and range because I don't think film lies or numbers lie. I shot the ball really well both years and people watch, they know that range is not an issue for me. We'll see. We can revisit that question in a couple years," he said.

Being able to translate his outside shot to the next level would go a long way towards Haliburton finding success early in his career. If he landed on a team with an established point guard, like the Wizards at No. 9, he would need to be effective off the ball to earn playing time.

The Wizards, however, could use a player like Haliburton who is one of the best perimeter defenders in this draft. He could find a role next season as one of John Wall's back-ups at point, while also spending time at shooting guard behind Bradley Beal. He may even be able to play alongside them at the three, if the Wizards go small.

Haliburton's game is so diverse, he has a chance to find a role with any team.

"I’m prepared to do whatever is asked of me; play the one, slide to the two, come off the bench, start. Doesn’t matter," he said.