Belinson: Haliburton should run to the NBA

Tyrese Haliburton shoots a free throw against No. 1 Baylor on Jan. 29.

An unfortunate injury may have abruptly ended Tyrese Haliburton’s 2020 season, but that doesn’t mean his NBA future should be in question.

With ESPN ranking him as a top-10 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and his natural playmaking ability for most of his sophomore campaign, Haliburton should take advantage of the best option on the table.

I can’t stress it enough, Haliburton needs to leave for the draft at the end of this season.

For someone like Haliburton, he just fits what NBA teams that are picking in the lottery desperately need and teams in that position shouldn’t be afraid to take him. With his size and build, Haliburton fits the typical ball-handling point guard who is unselfish to a fault, averaging a Big 12 best 6.4 assists before his season ending wrist injury.

When he doesn’t pass up to his teammates, he ended his season shooting 50.6 percent from the field and a solid 41.9 percent from three point range.

And put the obvious talent Haliburton possesses to make an impact on an NBA roster aside, the risk of returning should loom larger in his decision this spring.

Take a look at this season for an example of why returning to Iowa State makes zero sense in my eyes.

The nagging wrist injury that has been with Haliburton since the end of December forcing him to sit out against Florida A&M was clearly a red flag for the Cyclones — and we all know what happened with him gone against the Rattlers.

If he decides to return to Ames, he risks having an injury far worse than a fractured wrist, throwing his draft stock even further than it already could be.

Haliburton returning would be another year with him likely running the point again, constantly handling the ball and being the focal point of an offense that used Haliburton in every possession on offense. Even after the initial injury in December, Prohm still played Haliburton over 35 minutes a game and continued to rely on his tough passes in transition, contested three-point shot-making and athletic frame to drive into traffic and put his body in harm’s way game after game. 

Returning to Ames means another season of bringing up the ball and throwing his body into traffic to kick out the ball to teammates on the perimeter, increasing the risk of lower body injuries or worse for no benefit to his future. The role he would have to play in Prohm’s system would once again put him at the center of attention of defenses, creating more scenarios for injury and the continuous wearing down of his body.

Why risk an injury to yourself for a team that has shown no signs of being a contender in the Big 12 this year, with even younger pieces coming into the fold next year who will need time to develop and will likely not see enough minutes to take the load off Haliburton’s shoulders.

And if everything I have said so far doesn’t seem valid to how obvious the decision is for Haliburton, look at the history of Iowa State’s NBA picks.

Senior Monte Morris drives towards the basket during a game against the Nevada Wolf Pack, March 16 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Cyclones won 84-73, and will play Purdue this Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. 

Steve Prohm has not had first round pick since arriving in 2015, with Georges Niang, Monte Morris and Marial Shayok being prime examples as solid players for the Cyclones only earning second round selections despite having a big impact while in Ames.

To put into perspective how rare of an opportunity this is for Haliburton, Marcus Fizer was the last Iowa State player taken in the top-10 when he was selected fourth overall by the Chicago Bulls in the 2000 NBA Draft. Now some might point out Wesley Johnson was selected fourth overall in the NBA Draft in 2010, but at the time of his draft selection he was playing for Syracuse after transferring from Iowa State.

Iowa State was Big 12 Tournament champion in 2000. The championship team, under then-coach Larry Eustachy, was led by NBA-bound Marcus Fizer and Jamaal Tinsley.

The prospect of Haliburton floating in the top five and top-10 discussion for most of this season, even with the newly added wrist injury, shows that his raw talent and makeup is more than enough for NBA teams to fall in love with.

Prohm has years of turning point guards into NBA draft picks and told the media Monday that a broken wrist in February should not impact the status that Haliburton held in the eyes of NBA scouts before the injury. Prohm said the recovery process should go smooth and if all goes well, Haliburton should be able to attend the NBA combine and other scouting events before the draft on June 25.

Prohm said he talked with multiple NBA officials Sunday and Monday and told the media that he heard from multiple sources that there is little concern in NBA circles about Haliburton’s injury recovery and his ability to play at the next level at the same level he has shown at Iowa State. 

With all of that being said, Halliburton has every reason to leave and little to no reason to return, risking further injury and no chance to make a legitimate run for a Big 12 title.

Haliburton has to leave at season’s end to take advantage of a once in a lifetime chance and Iowa State fans should have no reason to be upset with that.

Source: Iowa State Daily