Five questions with NBA draft prospect Tyrese Haliburton

Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton (22) walks off the court following a win over Kansas State on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton (22) walks off the court following a win over Kansas State on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

Because of his versatility, Tyrese Haliburton is an intriguing draft prospect for a team such as the Hawks.

At Iowa State, Haliburton went from a catch-and-shoot off-guard as a freshman to more of a ball-dominant point guard as a sophomore, so he has experience at both spots entering the NBA. That could prove interesting for the Hawks, who pick sixth in the lottery (unless they make a trade) and have a few needs to fill, one of them potentially being a backup point guard who can keep the offense together when Trae Young is off the court.

Backup point guard Brandon Goodwin entered the season as a two-way player and signed an NBA contract in February, but he may not be the team’s long-term solution at that position. Jeff Teague, who the Hawks acquired at the trade deadline, also played backup point guard, but he will be an unrestricted free agent.

If the Hawks go that direction, it also would make sense for them to acquire a taller guard who can play alongside Young, who obviously is established as their go-to playmaker and rarely goes to the bench (35.3 minutes per game). So, Haliburton, who is also a solid defender, might fit that description. As a sophomore, he averaged 15.2 points, 6.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 4.9 rebounds in 36.7 minutes per game, shooting 42% from 3-point range (making 2.4 of 5.6 attempts, on average). Of course, it’s also possible the Hawks target a wing, maybe more of a defensive specialist such as Isaac Okoro.

Because of the coronavirus, the 2020 draft combine has a different format – from Sept. 28 to Oct. 16, players can participate in league and team interviews via videoconference, and can take part in “an individual on-court program consisting of strength and agility testing, anthropometric measurements, shooting drills and a ‘Pro Day’ video,” according to the league, which all will be conducted in October at the closest NBA practice facility to players' home or interim residence (where medical testing will also be performed by NBA-affiliated physicians).

The NBA draft is scheduled for Nov. 18, but that date is subject to change.

Haliburton, who said he has spoken to three teams so far (Warriors, Knicks, Pistons), addressed the media Wednesday and the following was gathered from that interview.

Height/weight/age/position: 6-foot-5, 175 pounds, 20, guard

On what kind of role he wants to have in the NBA, whether that’s more of a ballhandler or spot-up shooter: Whatever’s going to get me on the floor. I think I’m prepared for kind of whatever role that I’m thrown into or whatever role that I’m asked to do. I just want to play. I think I’m a basketball player before I’m a point guard or a shooting guard. I’m a basketball player, so I want to do whatever I’ve got to do to be on the floor and I’m prepared for that. … I don’t think it really matters. I think I’m comfortable doing either. I think, in my two years in college you saw me play two roles. As a freshman I was an off-ball guy, knock down shots and defend. Sophomore year I kind of moved to more of a point guard spot and was asked to do a lot more facilitating and scoring and things like that. I felt comfortable in both roles and like I said I’m prepared for either.

On his best intangible trait: I think just being me as a person. I think I’m very personable. I create relationships with all my teammates. I think if you ask any of my teammates from college, or even high school, for that matter, I think they would tell you we probably still have a relationship to this day. And they could talk to me about anything, and I could talk to them about anything. I think transparency is a big deal for me, and not only do I have relationships with my teammates but with the coaching staff at Iowa State and Oshkosh North as well. So just being me, and I think the better relationships are with people, the better it is toward winning.

On how his 3-point shot will translate to the NBA: I think it’s so overblown, the stuff about my mechanics and range, because I don’t think film lies or numbers lie. So go back and watch me at the college level and I think I shot the ball really well both years and if people watch they know range is not a problem with me. If that’s what people want to talk about, then go ahead, but we’ll see. We can revisit that question in a couple years and see what people have to say.

On if he sees himself as a point guard or shooting guard: A basketball player. Whatever you need from me, I’ll do, so if you want me to play the PG, I can that. I think I facilitate better than anybody in this draft. I think I can run a team right away. But if you want me to play the 2, and knock down shots, and defend, I think I can do that as well. So whatever’s asked of me, I’ll do it. I think basketball’s transitioning more and more into small ball or positionless basketball, so I think I can really fit anywhere and I think if I move to the 2, and I’m close to the rebound, I’m going to grab it and take it anyway. So it doesn’t really matter for me, either spot.

On what he can bring to an NBA team right away: What can I bring, I think right away, I’m coming in as a guy who can make shots, and somebody who can facilitate at a high level, and I think I’m a really good off-ball defender. I think my IQ is very high and I know where to be at the right time. I think I can improve a lot as an on-ball defender, and that’s a challenge I look forward to taking on in the NBA, in practice and things like that. But I think right away you get those three things and off the court like I talked about earlier, just a personable person who impacts winning. So I’m ready, wherever that is.