After a steady but quiet first year at Iowa State, where he averaged just 8.2 points per 40 minutes on a staggeringly low 9.1% usage rate but while posting 66.6% true shooting and turning the ball over just 28 times in 35 appearances, Tyrese Haliburton was called for the United States’ squad that went on to win the U19 FIBA World Championships in Crete last month.
The six-foot-five lead guard excelled as one of the top shot creators on the team and made the All-Tournament squad. His percentages were as efficient against that level of competition as they were in his first year of collegiate basketball, with the 19-year-old leading the tournament in offensive rating and effective field goal percentage while turning the ball over just eight times in 174 minutes.
Ranked 172nd in his high school class just a year ago, Haliburton is now viewed as a potential first round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, as ESPN ranked him 25th in its way-too-early mock, which was released prior to his appearance in Crete, so he is expected to move up a bunch of spots in their next release.
The Oshkosh, Wisconsin native profiles as a caretaker point guard who can fit on offense alongside a ball dominant wing due to his ability to nail open shots, despite his unorthodox release, and create for others in a more secondary role.
Though he has excelled at scoring efficiently this past year against multiple levels of competition, Haliburton is not viewed as a potential star because the volume hasn’t been there just yet. Even in Create, where he was often responsible for breaking down the defense first and then late in the shot clock when needed, Haliburton posted just 8.8% usage rate.
On the other end, he is pretty tenacious heating up the opposing ball handler and has shown a knack for creating events, not just reaching around for strips or jumping passing lanes but even picking up a block per 40 minutes on average.
But despite his height, Haliburton doesn’t offer a lot of versatility as a defender just yet because of his thin 172-pound frame, which restricts him to being viewed as more of a one-position defender at this point of physical development.
SHOT CREATION & SCORING ABILITY ON THE BALL
His top skill as of now is his court vision and the accuracy of his deliveries.
Haliburton excels at creating for others out of pick-and-roll, proving himself able to turn the corner off the ball screen and deliver well-timed pocket passes, engage the big defender before dropping off the roll man on slower rolls, hit the roll man over the top in side pick-and-roll, launch crosscourt passes against the momentum of his body to the weak-side corner and toss up lobs on the move.
He assisted on 32.3% of the United States’ scores when he was on the floor in the World Championships, a top 15 mark, while posting a 6.0 assist-to-turnover ratio. Haliburton is pretty savvy protecting the ball in traffic, tucking it on hard drives to the basket in order to prevent having it stripped of him by weak-side defenders.
He got to the basket some in pick-and-roll and scored efficiently – converting 12 of his 14 two-pointers in the event. Though he flashed a couple of powerful one-foot leaps with space to load up, Haliburton for the most part acted as a below the rim finisher in the half-court, as he didn’t show to be as explosive going up with power in traffic.
Haliburton did flash some resources to score among the trees, though. He is flexible enough to adjust his body in the air for reverses and showed a good deal of dexterity overextending for righty finger-roll finishes.
That said, Haliburton doesn’t attack the basket in a manner conducive to drawing contact and rarely gets to the foul line – earning just 26 free throws in 35 appearances last season and just three free throws in 174 minutes in Crete.
While operating in isolation, Haliburton hasn’t shown to be particularly fast with the ball or to have developed a deep arsenal of dribble moves to shake his man out of position, though he managed to get by big men on switches. He also didn’t look for mid-range pull-ups or launched floaters to act as a scoring threat from the in-between area.
His most reliable source of scoring on the ball at this point appears to be via stepping into a pull-up three-pointer against the defender going under the screen in pick-and-roll. With time and space to go through his motion uncontested, Haliburton has shown to be at least a capable shooter off the bounce, though he often looks to take these while setting his feet as close to the shorter line as he can, which causes skepticism over his ability to translate this shot into true NBA range in the near future.
It might look weird but he has certainly carried his weight as an open-shot spot-up shooter over this past year.
Haliburton gets little elevation off the ground as a near-standstill shooter and launches the ball almost from the side of his head. It’s pretty mechanical and looks like a push shot at times but it’s hard to argue with the results.
He nailed 10 of his 18 three-point shots in the World Championships and even took a three-pointer jogging to the ball for a handoff. That was after hitting 43.4% of his 113 three-point shots with Iowa State last season, at a pace of 3.9 such attempts per 40 minutes.
Haliburton bends his knees to get down in a stance and is pretty active heating up opposing ball handlers.
In pick-and-roll, he can get skinny going over picks at the point of attack and hustles in pursuit to try discouraging or blocking shots from behind.
In isolation, Haliburton has as many lateral slides in him as needed to stay in front. Though he lacks the strength and physicality to chest up and contain dribble penetration through contact, Haliburton leverages his length to reach around for strips.
He is attentive to his responsibilities executing the scheme away from the ball as well and impressed with his disposition in terms of multiple efforts.
Haliburton showed a knack for creating events by making plays on the ball from the side while helping clog driving lanes and jumping passing lanes. His average of 3.7 steals per 40 minutes ranked 13th in the World Championships.
He flashed the ability to run the shooter off his shot on hard closeouts and proved to be quite effective by contesting the shot as well, even picking up a block on a catch-and-shoot in impressive fashion.
Haliburton isn’t as productive in terms of pitching in on the glass, though. He is proactive by helping the helper with boxouts but lacks the leaping ability to go after the ball himself – collecting just 8.8% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor with Iowa State last season and 6.7% with the United States in the World Championships.
 DOB: 2/29/2000
EDITOR’S NOTE: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara