Last year I found myself watching a number of Iowa State games, paying close attention to potential upcoming draft prospects such as Marial Shayok (now with the Philadelphia 76ers), and Talen Horton-Tucker (selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2nd round). But one player on the Cyclones consistently got my attention with his impressive play and often left myself asking the same question...
Why is no one talking about this Haliburton kid from Iowa State?
If you didn't know much about the Sophomore combo guard it's okay, because not a lot of people did last year as well. Haliburton was a three-star recruit and wasn't expected to play much in his first year on campus. In fact, his own mother thought that Tyrese would end up redshirting his first year. But from the moment Haliburton took the floor, it was obvious that Iowa State had a potential diamond in the rough.
Haliburton is an analytics monster. His traditional stats from his freshman year won't jump off of the page at you, but it's what he does on the court that makes him truly so special of a talent. He's going to be one of the most interesting and highly debated prospects in this upcoming draft. Haliburton doesn't just possess the ability to hurt you in a variety of ways on both sides of the ball, but he makes jaw-dropping reads that won't show up on the stat sheet.
Think of it this way. If the NBA tracked "hockey-assists" religiously (something I believe they seriously should do), Haliburton might be in the running every year for the lead. His vision is absolutely absurd, as you'll see him make a read that's ahead of the next pass. If you simply just look at the stat production from last year, you won't get the overall fascination with Haliburton as a potential prospect. But once you take a look at his advanced numbers, it's pretty much what the "Whole new world" song is describing in Aladdin.
As previously stated by The Ringer's Jonathan Tjarks, ESPN's Kevin Pelton used an analytical model and found that Haliburton ranked as his 2nd overall prospect in College Basketball this year.
What the model picked up were all the things Haliburton didn’t do on the floor. He rarely missed shots or turned the ball over: He shot 68.5 percent on 2-point field goals and 43.4 percent on 3s and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.5-to-1. "
If you want to take a look at the traditional stats below, you'll notice that Haliburton is thriving in his second year after being asked to take on a heavier load offensively for Iowa State.
Good lord look at that jump in production over one year. It's a thing of beauty, isn't it? But let's seriously talk about a couple of things here that jump off the page. As stated earlier, Haliburton was asked to a lot of the heavy lifting this year for the Cyclones after a couple of key offensive members of last year's team left for the NBA. Usually, when you run into a scenario like this, you often see the returning prospect suffer with their percentages because they are trying to force offensive production. With Haliburton, it's almost the opposite. The points per game spike is impressive, no doubt. But take a look at FG% and 3P%. Haliburton is shooting a better % despite taking almost three times the amount of field goal attempts per game, and his three-point percentage is almost identical to last year.
So now that I have your attention, let's dive into some film to show what makes this Sophomore guard so impressive. The games I want to take a quick look are three matchups from the Battle 4 Atlantis earlier this year.
Right off the bat let's get you a little taste of what Haliburton can do when he's in transition. Notice here that Tyrese doesn't have a lot of real estate ahead of him. Some might argue this is a bit out of control, but I love the confidence shown here. One of the things I love about Haliburton that shows up a number of times on film is his body control in the air. For all of you analytics fans out there, Tyrese Haliburton ranks in the 88th percentile when it comes to Transition offense.
With every prospect, there's going to be a "knock" or something that teams are going to question moving forward. With Haliburton, it's his "catapult" like shooting form. It's definitely something to monitor, but I believe that with additional strength training and repetition, it can continue to develop into a quicker release. What I do LOVE about this play, and it's something you see with Tyrese a lot, is his appreciation for the finer details. Notice the ball fake here. Yes, that sound you hear is every coach watching this clapping. The ball fake sells the defender here and gives Tyrese a massive window for a good look from deep.
Like we stated before, Haliburton rates as Excellent (88%) via Synergy when it comes to Transition offense and this clip here shows his ability to get out and run. Notice the hesitation that Haliburton uses to set up the retreating defender. Makes you want to grab your ankle and feel pain.
Haliburton isn't just an elite prospect on the offensive side of the ball, but he also makes his calling as a fantastic defender. In fact, The Ringer's Jonathan Tjarks stated that last season, Haliburton had an elite steal rate (2.7 percent) and block rate (2.8 percent) for a perimeter player. According to Sports-Reference, no player in college basketball since 1992-93 has had Tyrese's combination of offensive efficiency and defensive production.
COURT VISION PART I
This is a great look at Haliburton getting it done on both sides of the ball. Good contest here, and then Haliburton gets his head up the floor the moment he touches the ball. Great read here and he puts the ball in the perfect spot for his running big man.
OUTSIDE RANGE PART II
The composure and patience that Haliburton shows on a number of plays are what stand out to me. Another simple but effective ball fake here to set up a window for an open three. Haliburton just does the little things that stand out in such a big way.
PLAYMAKER PART I
Love a lot about this play. After receiving the outlet, Tyrese is under control and allows the play to develop, waiting for the P&R opportunity. Another gather dribble, and Haliburton delivers a nice pass to lead the big for an easy two.
PLAYMAKER PART II
Do I have your attention yet? Haliburton is feeling it here, and this is the type of plays you get familiar with in a hurry when you watch the Sophomore guard. Haliburton possesses elite court vision and knows the angles to play to set up his teammates.
PLAYMAKER PART III
This is simply just when you know a player is having too much fun playing the game of basketball. Haliburton with a gorgeous no-look dime to the running big man and notice how he sells the defense with a look to his teammate in the corner.
OFF THE BOUNCE
It's going to be important for NBA teams to see if Haliburton can continue to demonstrate his ability as a three-level scorer throughout the season. Tyrese ranks in the 99th percentile in Spot Up opportunities, which is absurd. But, Haliburton also ranks Average (44%) in P&R situations.
This is an important clip to take a closer look at here because it shows Tyrese's ability to read the play ahead. Watch as the ball moves, you'll see Haliburton pointing to his teammates where the ball needs to go. First, he wants it to go into the post, then he sees a potential swing to the corner after reading the defensive alignment.
There's a lot to take in when you watch this kid play. Personally, when I watch Haliburton's game compared to the other ball handler's in this upcoming draft class, I believe that he's not getting enough respect around the country. Haliburton might not have superstar potential or a higher ceiling than some of these prospects, but I believe he has the rare ability to dominate a game without needing the ball. So many young point guard prospects need the ball in their hands in order to have an impact on a game, but Haliburton can give you nightmares on or off of the ball. He allows everyone around him to thrive. Haliburton might not be your typical Superstar at the NBA level, but he might become a Superstar role player that immediately makes everyone on the court with him better. Currently, we have Haliburton ranked as our 5th overall prospect on our 2020 NBA Draft Board. With that being said, I believe there's a serious argument that Haliburton could be the best point-guard prospect in this Draft Class.