Sacramento Kings fans and analysts are learning to love guard Tyrese Haliburton the same way Iowa State Cyclones fans did for his two years in Ames.
Former Sacramento Kings head coach Jerry Reynolds broke down Haliburton’s first five NBA games on the Jan. 3 edition of the Kings Herald Show, a podcast that Reynolds co-hosts for The Kings Herald, an independent site that covers the Kings. Reynolds said he had yet to find a “fatal flaw” in Haliburton’s game.
“I found none. Zero,” Reynolds said on the Kings Herald Show. “You know the guy is playing unbelievably well when you can, as a rookie, have a 5.5 (assist-to-turnover ratio). That’s John Stockton caliber. Now, we know it’s early. I don’t want to get silly here. But the stats right across the board — his efficiency rating is tremendous, his scoring efficiency is a winning number, he’s shooting 53 percent from the floor, 50 percent from the 3-point line and 88 percent from the free throw line. You know you can’t ask for more. Plus, he’s a good defender, a terrific team defender and a better than average individual on-ball defender in my opinion. So, he’s, he’s just way better than I thought he would be or could be.”
In his first five games Haliburton averaged 26 minutes and 10.6 points per game, along with 4.4 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 steal per game.
Reynolds and the hosts spent nearly 10 minutes talking about Haliburton, including his future in Sacramento, which Reynolds thinks could eventually include starting point guard duties. Reynolds called Haliburton a “naturally unselfish” player.
Reynolds isn’t the only Kings watcher enamored with Haliburton, who went No. 12 to the Kings in the 2020 NBA Draft. Kings fans have taken to Twitter with their joy due to Haliburton’s start to the season.
Haliburton’s start has included Steph Curry-level 3-pointers.
Draft analysts weighed in after that shot.
Some just wanted you to watch his defense, the defense Reynolds spoke about on the podcast.
The Ringer wants him in the Rookie of the Year conversation already.
Some Kings fans are filled with regret.
Others are losing their minds.
Some replied directly to Haliburton.
Some got a little Biblical.
And, as much as Kings fans lost their minds with Haliburton’s hot start, they lost it just as much when Haliburton bruised his left wrist after his fifth game.
Haliburton ended up missing at least two games with the injury, and that led to some biting analysis of the Kings without Haliburton.
The Kings Herald even put a poll in the field, though the validity of the poll, given the choices, could be called into question.
If Haliburton is floored by all the attention, he seems to be handling it well. In fact, he’s even trying to give back a little in his new hometown.
The Kings are playoff starved to say the least, as they haven’t reached the NBA playoffs since the 2005-06 season. If Haliburton helps get the Kings to the postseason as a rookie, well, who knows what might happen?
If Haliburton’s return to the lineup on Wednesday night against Chicago is any indication — 17 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals, along with a step-back 24-foot 3-pointer to give the Kings a 6-point lead with 13 seconds left in an eventual 128-124 win — it could be a tremendous season.
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