Indiana Pacers: Why Tyrese Haliburton will the lead NBA in assists

Tyrese Haliburton (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Tyrese Haliburton (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Competing in the Eastern Conference requires a desire to improve. Rick Carlisle and the Indiana Pacers front office are committed to putting the best starters on the floor. Their transactions during the past two seasons were surgical, including the decision to trade for their starting point guard.

With the 12th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings invested in a point guard from Iowa State University. An impressive stat line and Big 12 honors earned Tyrese Haliburton a spot in the association. It was a dream come true, and Haliburton adjusted well, finishing the season averaging 13 points a night.

During his sophomore year, No. 0 continued to show improvement, contributing 7.4 assists and 14.3 points consistently. An efficient field goal percentage of 45.7% kept defenders on their toes, allowing Haliburton to compose its offense.

Indiana Pacers: Sacramento Kings send Haliburton to Indiana

On February 8, 2021, Sacramento parted ways with their developing guard. In exchange, the Kings received Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb, and a 2023 second-round draft pick from Indiana, creating the start of something great for Carlisle and his developing roster.

Indiana finished the season 25–57,  three seeds shy of play-in contention. Ten consecutive losses at the end of the season raised concern for fans expecting the team to make a late push toward the playoffs. An explosive regular-season showing from Haliburton gave enthusiasts something to look forward to for the following season. His 17.5 points per game and 9.6 assists showed glimpses of greatness, and the Pacers were determined to work around his skillset.

The competition in the Eastern Conference continues to pose its share of challenges in the new campaign, but the Pacers are determined to persevere. Indiana ranks 9th in the standings (3-5) and will look to improve as the season progresses.

Indiana Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton will lead the NBA and assist with his dynamic skillset.

Haliburton’s playmaking will continue to help the Pacers move up in the Eastern Conference. No. 0 is ranked fourth in assists (9.4), hitting open teammates with crisp passes. Defenses respect Haliburton’s scoring abilities, which causes defenders to close scoring lanes when Haliburton attacks the rim. Passing out the open shooter leads to easy points and has helped Tyrese develop as a lethal playmaking guard.

An open pass is not an assist unless the shooter knocks down the shot, and the Indiana Pacers are known to hit their shots. Carlisle’s squad ranks third in points per game (117.6) and eleventh in three-point percentage (37.5), forcing defenses to defend open shooters with a hand up. The Pacers also rank second in three-pointers made per game (14.9), thanks to contributions from Buddy Hield (42.7%) and Bennedict Mathurin (42.9%).

It would not surprise me if Tyrese Haliburton finished the season with more assists than any other point guard. Indiana is equipped with shooters that can knock down open shots against tough defenses. If the three-point line is defended, Haliburton’s finishing ability forces defenders to rotate to him in the paint, setting up midrange shots for poppers and teammates in motion.

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An impressive start to the season has landed at No. 0 on analysts’ watch lists and could lead to an All-Star appearance.