Tyrese Haliburton Was Convinced Wizards Would Draft Him

Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings, NBA Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

Indiana Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton is quickly becoming one of the better point guards in the NBA. He has been given the keys to the offense in Indiana and blossomed as a result, putting together an All-Star caliber season.

Tyrese Haliburton is averaging a league-leading 10.3 assists per game, adding 20.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 33.6 minutes. His efficiency is very high with a shooting split of .480/.402/.885 and averaging only 2.6 turnovers per game. Haliburton’s PER of 23.7 is currently 15th in the NBA.

Getting traded from the Sacramento Kings last season in the Domantas Sabonis deal enabled Haliburton to spread his wings as the unquestioned lead ball-handler. In Sacramento, he was sharing those duties with De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell and it would sometimes get clunky.

He is certainly grateful to be leading the show for the Pacers, but this route was very close to not happening. In a recent appearance on the Woj Pod, Haliburton revealed that he believed he was going to the Washington Wizards on draft night in 2020.

“Washington was a real possibility. That was somewhere that I really thought was gonna happen. I actually was told at one point that they were about to pick me and then it was like nevermind they’re not”

The Wizards owned the No. 9 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and used that selection on forward Deni Avdija. Avdija has been a solid rotation piece for Washington, possessing multi-positional defensive versatility but he has a long way to go in his offensive development.

LATEST NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings & Washington Wizards Updates

Could part of the reason have been that Washington’s front office knew that they had a deal on the table for Russell Westbrook and didn’t want to jam up the backcourt with another rookie in Haliburton? Westbrook was acquired about two weeks after the 2020 NBA Draft from the Houston Rockets in exchange for John Wall and a first-round pick.

The duo of Westbrook and Bradley Beal was able to get the Wizards into the postseason, but it was quickly broken up as Westbrook was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2021 offseason. It is always easy looking back and judging things in hindsight, but passing on Haliburton was something that raised a few eyebrows on draft night.

LATEST NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings & Washington Wizards Updates

Tyrese Haliburton experienced a slight slide down the draft board in 2020, as he was rumored to be a target for the New York Knicks inside the top 10 as well. But, with the No. 8 overall pick, the Knicks selected reigning Player of the Year, Obi Toppin, out of Dayton.