What’s the Impact of Tyrese Haliburton’s Season-Ending Injury?
Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton is done for the season after suffering a fractured left wrist in Saturday’s game, a win over Kansas State. Haliburton spoke to Iowa State’s media on Monday after the team announced the injury.
It’s a blow to say the least. Haliburton was expected to be the Cyclones’ best player going into the season, and he’s proved to be one of its best. His season ends with 15.2 points per game, along with 5.9 rebounds per game and 142 assists. Haliburton is one of a handful of Big 12 players to record a triple-double this year, including one in the Cyclones’ Big 12 opener against TCU.
But we won’t see any more of Haliburton this season. Here are three ways Haliburton’s injury impacts Halliburton, the Cyclones now and after this season.
Haliburton was already a lock to be a lottery pick. This injury makes it even more likely he will leave after the season. It’s hard to blame him. Scouts have seen more than enough of his game this season to make an accurate evaluation. It doesn’t get better than a lottery pick if you’re going to leave early for the NBA. The only thing NBA teams will want to check are the medicals. As long as this is just a simple fracture and doesn’t threaten Haliburton’s long-term projection in the NBA, there isn’t much reason to stay unless he wants to stay in Ames.
Iowa State’s changes of getting back to .500 take a fatal hit. You hate to bury a team, but the Cyclones are 10-13 with eight regular-season games remaining. It was going to be a difficult slog with Haliburton healthy and in the lineup. But without him? He was the Cyclones’ second-leading scorer before the injury (Rasir Bolton was No. 1). Losing Haliburton would seem to cement Iowa State’s second losing season in three years under Steve Prohm, sandwiched around a Big 12 Tournament title.
Who gets the playing time? The Cyclones must now figure out how to divide up Haliburton’s playing time, and it must come with an eye toward developing talent for next season. Logically, Prentiss Nixon would likely move into the starting lineup. He’s averaging 8.1 points per game this season. But, Nixon is listed as a senior, so he will be out of eligibility after this season. Prohm may start Nixon the rest of the way, but guards Terrence Lewis, a junior, and Caleb Grill, a freshman, would both benefit from additional playing time. Lewis played 20 minutes in the win over Kansas State and scored 12 points. He’s averaging 5.7 points per game and shoots better than 50 percent from the floor. Grill has played just 204 minutes this season and is averaging less than two points per game.
This doesn’t even take into account Tre Jackson, who also started on Saturday and while he didn’t score a point against the Wildcats, he is averaging 3.7 points per game.
I suspect that Nixon and Jackson will continue to start in the short term, with Lewis and Grill pushing the pair for playing time the rest of the season. We’ll find out when Iowa State faces Oklahoma on Wednesday in their first game since losing Haliburton for good.
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