Draft day can be stressful for the prospects hoping to be selected, especially those ranked near the top of the draft class. If someone who is projected to go as a top pick starts to slide as the draft progresses, it can mean less money for him when he signs with the team that takes him.
Those situations can be beneficial for teams, though, because they can get a bargain in the draft by being able to grab a player who most people expected to be gone by their pick. That happened in this year’s NBA draft with the Sacramento Kings, and most general managers around the league think they got the steal of the draft.
Tyrese Haliburton falls to the Sacramento Kings
Tyrese Haliburton was one of the top prospects in this year’s draft. In its draft profile of Haliburton, NBA.com wrote he is “a unique point guard prospect whose elite size, decision-making ability, and defensive potential stood out during his two seasons at Iowa State.”
Other praise the site’s scouts heaped on him include Haliburton being a point guard with “terrific size” and “impressive quickness.” According to the profile, Haliburton is also “an intelligent, competitive player” who has “nice tools” defensively.
The Sporting News rounded up mock drafts from various sources, and the consensus had Haliburton going between No. 6 and No. 8, but he fell all the way down to No. 12, allowing the Kings to grab him at a bargain pick. In a survey of NBA GMs, 43% voted Haliburton as “the biggest steal” in this year’s draft.
How will the rookie fit in with the Sacramento Kings?
The Des Moines Register wrote about the Kings taking Haliburton, and how the 6’5″ guard fits with the team. In a post-draft interview, Haliburton called Sacramento “the perfect spot” for him and he likes the fit with the squad.
Kings coach Luke Walton likes to play a “space and pace” type of game, which should work well with Haliburton, who shoots 50% from the field and 40% from three while being able to run the floor and make quick decisions.
He fits in with the roster because he won’t be expected to be the team’s top point guard right away — that distinction lands with De’Aaron Fox, who Haliburton says is a “perfect fit” because the two guards complement each other well.
Haliburton believes “what I lack, he has.” They could be on the court together with Haliburton playing off the ball rather than point to be able to play with the starters, rather than backing up Fox.
Tyrese Haliburton is playing well already
Haliburton might be a rookie, but he didn’t look like it during the preseason. He played in all four of the Kings’ preseason games, averaging more than 21 minutes and scoring 6.25 points per game, with 3.25 rebounds and 3.25 assists.
The highlight of his preseason performance was his second game, scoring 11 points in nearly 30 minutes on the court. And he has continued to put up good numbers early in his regular-season career. He opened his career with a 12-point effort as the Kings beat the Nuggets, playing 30 minutes.
He had a downturn in his second game, scoring just two points, but then things perked up for Haliburton again in Game 3, in the second of back-to-back games against the Suns. Haliburton put up 15 points in the contest, going 5-of-7 from the floor and 3-of-4 on three-point tries.
He just had one rebound but dished out six assists in 26.5 minutes as the Kings suffered their first loss of the season. If Haliburton is putting up these kinds of numbers at the start of his career, things look good for him over the long-term.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference