In a draft full of uncertain prospects, Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton may be the safest pick, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Haliburton offers good size for a point guard at 6’5″ with a 6’9″ wingspan. He’s also an elite passer, an effective shooter and has natural leadership qualities.
“I’ve had a lot of No. 1, No. 2 picks, and this guy is a difference maker,” said Joe Abunassar, who trained Haliburton at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas after the season was shut down. “As teams look at him, part of that is his approach, his mentality, his personality. Everyone steps up their game when he steps in the game. He’s the most humble guy. I know with him, what you’re getting is a guy that’s going to win games for your franchise.”
Abunasser said Haliburton has gotten stronger since the college basketball season ended, adding roughly 15 to 18 pounds to his frame. With so many lottery teams needing a point guard, he could go higher than projected on draft night.
“He’s a winner. He has an amazing personality,” Abunassar added. “He’s contagious. He’s something that if I was a GM, I’d say we need guys like that.”
There’s more draft news to pass along:
- There’s increasing chatter around the league that former Memphis center James Wiseman is the most likely No. 1 pick, according to Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Sources tell Wasserman that some Golden State officials believe Wiseman will be selected first, whether the Timberwolves keep their pick or not. Sources also say the Hornets “want Wiseman badly” and are interested in trading up to get him.
- Warriors ownership may put pressure on the front office to select LaMelo Ball with the second pick if Wiseman is off the board, Wasserman adds in the same story. A source close to the team claims Ball has supporters and detractors in the front office. Golden State remains in the market to trade down, with Deni Avdija and Devin Vassell as possible targets.
- More international prospects have pulled their names out of the draft ahead of today’s deadline, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando. Nikola Miskovic, Marko Simonovic and Darko Bajo, all of ABA Liga, have all withdrawn. At No. 70, Simonovic was the only one in ESPN’s list of the top 100 prospects. Serbian big man Filip Petrusev (story link), who is 59th on ESPN’s list, and Lithuanian guard Rokas Jokubaitis (story link) are also skipping this year’s draft. On Saturday, we shared decisions from seven other overseas players.