For Sacramento Kings fans, finding a light at the end of the tunnel can be difficult and at times, mentally draining, but the 12th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft has rejuvenated the Kings’ offense.
Weighing in at 185 pounds, 6-foot-5 point guard out of Iowa State, Tyrese Haliburton has taken the league by storm with a strong first quarter of the season. With less than 20 games under his belt, Haliburton has already made his way into the top five in minutes on the team, gotten his first career start, and iced multiple wins for the Kings this season down the stretch.
Most recently, Haliburton hit a clutch 3-pointer against the Toronto Raptors on Friday with the shot clock winding down and less than a minute left in the game. Haliburton managed to get his first career double-double even with a subpar shooting night to boost the Kings to another win.
“He has got that clutch gene. Even though he had an off-shooting night, he stepped up and hit that when we needed it,” Kings Head Coach Luke Walton said of Haliburton to Kings’ postgame media.
Haliburton was projected to be drafted in the top 10 but somehow slipped all the way to the Sacramento Kings at the 12th pick.
The Kings were surprised that Haliburton was still available at this point and jumped on the opportunity to snatch up arguably the most NBA-ready prospect in the draft.
Coming out of his sophomore year at Iowa State, Haliburton was listed as having great size, terrific decision-making abilities and tons of potential on the defensive side of the ball.
One of the main criticisms many NBA analysts and scouts had of Haliburton coming out of college was his funky jump shot and they claimed it wouldn’t translate to the NBA.
Up to this point of the season, Haliburton is shooting at a clip of 40.9% from 3-point range and 46.5% from the field.
In the fourth game of his career, Haliburton showed his amazing potential to the NBA by hitting two 3-pointers down the stretch in a Dec. 29 win against the Denver Nuggets. Haliburton wasn’t afraid to take a little jab at his jump shot critics after the game, and he hasn’t disappointed since.
Haliburton also has a knack at getting his teammates involved, dishing out an outstanding 5.4 assists per game off the bench.
His craftiness has not only opened opportunities for his teammates to score but also helped Haliburton find openings in the defense to get his own buckets.
Not even 20 games in, Haliburton is already an obvious front-runner for the Rookie of the Year Award and is steadily improving with each and every game.
Depending on how Haliburton plays for the rest of the year, and how much spotlight the media decides to shine on other rookies on higher-market teams, Haliburton has a legitimate chance at being the 2020-21 NBA ROTY, with the likes of Charlotte Hornets point guard Lamelo Ball and Golden State Warriors center James Wiseman.
Whether Haliburton wins ROTY or not, the bigger picture is that Haliburton shows arguably the most potential out of any rookie in the 2020 draft class. This creates possibly one of the most lethal long-term guard combos in the league with him and Kings guard De’Aaron Fox.
Haliburton is blossoming in this league and could grow to be a superstar next to Fox for the next 10-15 years.
The Sacramento Proud has something to be proud of in the rookie’s strong start and it looks to be just the beginning for Haliburton’s successful career.