Detroit Pistons draft prospect, Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton, ‘a Midwest guy’ sees a fit

Detroit Free Press

Omari Sankofa II
| Detroit Free Press

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The retooling Detroit Pistons have numerous roster needs. Their need for a franchise point guard might top that list. 

Derrick Rose is the only point guard under contract next season, and he’s entering the last year of that deal. Coach Dwane Casey said in June that the Pistons need to acquire a starting point guard this offseason, either through the draft or free agency. 

For subscribers: How will the Pistons approach their ‘retool’? Recent history may help 

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Regardless of how they address the position, Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton should fit. He excelled as both a lead guard and off guard during his two years of college. And if the Pistons were to select him with the seventh overall pick, he’d be all for it. 

Haliburton is one of several targets the Pistons could take in November’s draft. Detroit is one of the three teams he’s interviewed with so far, he told reporters on Wednesday. 

“Being able to learn from dudes like Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin would be huge, two guys that have done this at a high level, especially at a young age,” he said. “They know what it takes to do that. A team with a good young core as well. I’ll be fully ready to go. I think I’m a Midwest guy through and through, so being in Detroit would be no problem for me. I think I fit well there.” 

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Haliburton, 6-foot-5 and 175 pounds, emerged as one of college basketball’s best guards last season, averaging 15.2 points, 6.5 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 2.5 steals. He also hit 41.9% of his 3-pointers, and was an elite spot-up shooter. 

There’s been much debate among league talent evaluators about his ideal NBA position. He spent more time playing off-the-ball as a freshman, before transitioning to point guard full-time as a sophomore. He is one of the best passers in the draft, and also has above-average size for the point. But his unorthodox shooting form, lack of athleticism and underwhelming burst off-the-dribble has raised some concern about how well his game will translate to the NBA. 

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Haliburton said he’s working to improve his ability to shoot off-the-bounce, which would make him a more unpredictable scorer in the pick-and-roll, as well as open the floor for his teammates. He isn’t concerned about his overall shooting mechanics, though. 

“I think it’s so overblown, the stuff about my mechanics and range,” he said. “I don’t think film lies or numbers lie. Go back and watch me at the college level, I think I shot the ball really well both years and people watch, they know that range is not a problem for me. If that’s what people want to talk about, go ahead. We’ll see. We can revisit that question in a couple years and see what people have to say.” 

He also pushed back on the common belief that the 2020 draft class is a weak one. On paper, it lacks the obvious superstar potential that past classes have had, such as Zion Williamson last year. Haliburton is projected to go anywhere between the third and 10th overall picks, but he believes his classmates will surprise people.

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“I think it’s such a lazy, casual comment,” he said. “I don’t understand why people act like every draft class has five All-Stars, five Hall-of-Famers. I have a hard time understanding that. I think we have a lot of dudes in this draft that are going to do very well in the NBA. It’s hard to say that right now, but I hope we can revisit this in a couple years and have that discussion about what people think about our class. I think it’s a lot stronger than people think.” 

Haliburton was talkative and personable during his nearly 40-minute news conference. At Iowa State, he established a reputation as a high IQ player, and he was eager to talk X’s and o’s, critique his own game and defend himself when necessary. 

Pistons general manager Troy Weaver has said he wants to draft hard-working, intelligent players. Haliburton fits the bill, and he’s willing to do whatever he needs to in order to establish himself. 

“I’m expecting to be given a role and excel in that role, no matter what it is and no matter where it is,” he said. “I’m ready. I’ve been working on a lot of different things and preparing to do whatever I’m asked. Whatever that is I’m fully prepared for it.”

Contact Omari Sankofa II at Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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