It’s rare in the NBA for two superstars to be involved in a trade that ended up working out well for both sides. However, that was the case when the Indiana Pacers acquired Tyrese Haliburton from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Domantas Sabonis. Both teams involved other pieces. But Haliburton and Sabonis were indeed the headliners, and rightfully so.
Top 25 NBA Players Under 25: No. 4 – Tyrese Haliburton
Haliburton’s minutes per game didn’t increase significantly after the trade in the 2021-22 season. However, his role did. Haliburton went from being the secondary distributor in Sacramento behind De’Aaron Fox to being the critical ballhandler and offensive initiator for the Pacers.
Haliburton battled injuries last season and was limited to only 56 games. Regardless, he still made his first NBA All-Star selection. He had the best statistical averages of his career. Haliburton averaged 20.7 points, 10.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.6 steals on 49/40/87 shooting splits. The points and assists were both career highs.
Haliburton’s offensive prowess was evident at Iowa State. However, he fell to the No. 12 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. A significant reason was due to some questions about Haliburton’s fit in the NBA. Haliburton is 6-foot-5 and 185 pounds. He was perceived to be a bit of a combo guard. However, Haliburton has proven more than capable of leading an offense as the franchise point guard.
At 23 years old, Haliburton’s best seasons may still be ahead of him. He’s only been given one entire season (albeit only 56 games) as the Pacers’ foundational piece, resulting in career highs and his first All-Star appearance.
Haliburton is already one of the league’s best playmakers. He barely didn’t qualify for the StatMuse category leaders from last season due to playing 56 games. The cut-off is 57 games. However, if he did make the list, Haliburton would have been second overall with his 10.4 assists per game.
His positional size at 6-foot-5 allows Haliburton to see over the defense well and find the open man. Combine his court vision with his ballhandling and shooting ability, and Haliburton is already one of the best offensive players in the NBA.
Haliburton’s numbers and impact on winning should only continue to increase. Especially as he obtains more experience being the focal point of the franchise and the offense.
Fit With Pacers
The Pacers have a tremendous up-and-coming roster with a lot of emerging talent to surround Haliburton with that fits the rebuilding timeline well. Bennedict Mathurin and the No. 8 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, Jarace Walker, are both young prospects. They complement Haliburton’s play style well with their athleticism and ability to play off the ball.
The Pacers were a franchise in flux before the Haliburton trade. They picked the rebuilding direction with the Sabonis for Haliburton swap, and it instantly revitalized the team’s outlook. He’s a young superstar who should be in consideration for All-Star appearances on a yearly basis as long as he remains healthy.
The Pacers have a bright future with their young core, and Haliburton is the headliner.