No. 2: Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers
From draft-night afterthought to All-Star, Tyrese Haliburton of the Indiana Pacers is a budding star who is taking the league by storm. In just his third season he averaged 20.7 points and 10.4 assists per game; how about 1.6 steals and 40 percent from 3-point range for good measure?
Haliburton fell to the 12th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft because of defensive concerns and a question about whether his abnormal shooting form would translate. His defense hasn’t been anything to write home about outside of the steals, but his shooting has been just as crisp as it was in college; he’s hit 40 percent or better in each of his three seasons.
The Indiana Pacers love to play with…err, pace, and Haliburton is the perfect floor general to make that vision a reality. He excels in the open court, and his passing is both brazen and accurate. He makes the players around him better, and he projects to only keep improving.
Why is Haliburton not first? It has nothing to do with this being a Cleveland Cavaliers site; rather, his combination of injury history and less diverse scoring package serve as a tiebreaker with Darius Garland. When an opposing defense slows it down and forces Haliburton to break down a defense in the halfcourt, his options at this point in his career aren’t as diverse. Otherwise, both players look like they will be perennial All-Stars.