Although Illawarra Hawks guard LaMelo Ball is widely considered to be among the leading prospects ahead of the 2020 NBA Draft, it appears that the team with the league’s worst record, the Golden State Warriors, has someone else as their top point guard target — Iowa State star Tyrese Haliburton.
As quoted by USA Today‘s Warriors Wire on Wednesday, Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote earlier that day that the Warriors, assuming they end up with the second to fifth selection in this year’s draft lottery, would consider drafting Haliburton ahead of other leading point guard prospects.
“He’s an elite passer who takes sound shots and can play off the ball when necessary. On defense, Haliburton has the length and athleticism to defend multiple positions. I’ve been told that he has emerged as the No. 1 point guard on the Warriors’ board — yes, above LaMelo Ball and Killian Hayes.”
As separately reported by NBC Sports Bay Area, Haliburton averaged 15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.5 assists, and 2.5 steals in 22 games in his sophomore season for Iowa State, which ended in February after he suffered a broken left wrist. While it was noted that the Cyclones standout has “somewhat of a funky release,” he still shot over 50 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from the arc in the 2019-20 NCAA season.
Triple-double (22-12-10) for Tyrese Haliburton over the weekend. Play that popped most was clearly was his crossover over ball screen into driving dunk (33-sec mark). Hit some quick-release threes, soft floaters. Typical Hali passes. pic.twitter.com/YFTYZt89oQ
— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) January 6, 2020
According to Warriors Wire, Haliburton’s ability to make open shots — he shot 20-for-37 on unguarded three-point shots in 2019-20 — makes him an ideal target for Golden State on draft day. The outlet stressed that as someone who was used by Iowa State as a point forward, the 6-foot-5-inch Haliburton can stretch the floor and also contribute on the defensive end. However, there’s a good chance he might not get much playing time even if he gets selected by the Warriors with an early pick.
“The reality is that [Stephen] Curry is not fading into the sunset any time soon and the idea of him being replaced by Haliburton in the first unit is too preposterous to even utter,” Warriors Wire wrote.
Likewise, Letourneau was further cited by the publication, as he wrote that Haliburton could be used by Golden State as a “primary” ball-handler off the bench. He added that the 20-year-old can be compared to recently retired Warriors guard and former No. 4 overall draft pick Shaun Livingston prior to his career-threatening knee injury.
In addition, Warriors Wire pointed out a few weaknesses that could compromise Haliburton’s upside if he ends up in the Bay Area as a pro. Unlike fellow point guards Ball and Hayes, he isn’t too productive on isolation plays, thus potentially limiting his usefulness as an off-the-bench scorer. His lack of comfort in shooting off the dribble (11-for-45 on off-the-dribble three-pointers in 2019-20) was mentioned as another possible area for improvement.