Tyrese Haliburton had his best performance of the early season in the Sacramento Kings’ 112-99 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, scoring 20 points dishing 7 assists while not turning the ball over once.
According to Luke Walton, the all-around fashion in which Haliburton played last night is how he wants him to play every night and thinks it has the potential to rub off on his teammates.
“I’ve challenged him,” Walton said. “I want his personality imprinted on our team. He is that type of guy and I want him to be as loud as he wants to be. I don’t even care if he makes mistakes right now. If he wants to call his own play coming off of the free-throw line, call it.
It seems like Haliburton has been feeling his way out a bit in the early going this season, trying to figure out how he best fits with the Kings’ guard-heavy roster. On Wednesday night, he played the ideal connector role as a guy that is able to influence the game in different ways when he steps on the court.
Perhaps the most impressive thing from Haliburton’s performance was the fact that he was everywhere defensively. Whether it was getting in passing lanes, as evidenced by his four steals, or using his six feet five inches tall frame to record two blocks, Haliburton’s presence was felt on that end.
Walton says that strides he’s seen from Haliburton defensively since he was drafted by the organization in 2020 has been the most impressive thing in his eyes
“He’s gone from someone we used to try to have to hide on defense to someone who’s running around, reading, ripping the ball from people, getting steals,” Walton said.
By nature, Haliburton plays a really deferential style of basketball, always choosing to make the extra pass and rarely forcing up bad shots. But for a Kings’ team that needs as much shotmaking as it can get, sometimes Haliburton can be a bit too passive.
De’Aaron Fox, who has really struggled thus far this year prior to a strong performance on Wednesday, has been encouraging Haliburton to be more aggressive when it comes to his shot. Fox put his conversation with Haliburton pretty bluntly.
“I told him to shoot the fucking ball,” Fox said.