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NBA Speed Dating: Washington Wizards

Vote Tyrese 2020

Tyrese Haliburton is a young bachelor, in terms of NBA employment. A slew of potential suitors are lining up nicely for him in the NBA draft lottery. His partner will be determined on draft day, November 18, 2020. For now, we’ll speed date around the NBA teams finding the best fit for our beloved point guard, and which team he could end up with, for years to come. So spritz that cologne, floss those teeth, and work on your pick up lines. It’s speed-dating time.

I sat down with John Heiser of Bullets Forever to discuss.

Dylan- The Wizards are one of a few teams in the lottery that seemingly have their backcourt already figured out. Tyrese Haliburton would add depth to an all-star backcourt, or he could provide some assistance if Bradley Beal is moved via trade. I could see both of these realistically happen. Would you rather have a guard like Haliburton come off the bench his first couple years behind John Wall and Beal, or give him plenty of minutes in his first couple of years?

John- If a team takes Haliburton in the lottery (as expected) they are going to play him. The next level is how and who with? If the Wizards select Tyrese then they likely want to play all 3 of the guards you mentioned at the same time. Wizards coach Scott Brooks has toyed with 3 guard lineups before but could never find the right chemistry. Throwing Austin Rivers into the back court with Wall and Beal but not giving him the ball didn’t make much sense. The team has also talked about how one key to future success will be Wall learning to be as good off the ball as Bradley Beal has become on the ball. That would also be a key to how much Wall and Haliburton can be on the floor together. For Tyrese staying on the floor will be more about determining who he can guard.

Dylan- The Wizards have some good young pieces. Rui Hachimura had a decent rookie campaign, Davis Bertans has gotten a lot of attention over the last year as well. Do you think that there’s some young pieces that could blossom into starters for a contending team in Washington, or do you think the best young prospects are yet to come for the Wizards?

John- Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard won the job in part based on his plan to get off the treadmill. He didn’t want to keep applying different versions of the same veteran ‘spackle’ each year with the hopes of winning in the playoffs. In doing so the team added 9 players 24 or younger prior/during the 2019-2020 season. This past season was all about finding out which of these young players are worth keeping. While the long term verdict on Rui Hachimura is still out I think he’s shown enough for them to be excited about his future. He stepped in as a rookie and performed well until a teammates’ swift kick to the ‘lower abdomen’ derailed his season. The team is just as excited about what we’re about to see from Troy Brown Jr. Troy was one of the youngest players in the 2018 draft. At 6’7 he’s a plus rebounder with good vision and passing. His shooting has improved and needs to keep on that trajectory for him to break out.

As far as starting on a contender goes, that may be it. I’ll add Isaac Bonga to the list. He’s the type of forward who will earn rotation minutes with his defense. He does so many little things well with such low usage that you can envision him being on the floor with heavy usage stars. They have to believe the player picked at 9 can be that good.

Dylan- John Wall has one of the most gross contracts in modern day NBA. Albeit, mostly because they’ve been paying him upwards of $35 million dollars a year to be hurt, which is out of his control, but that’s still a huge chunk of the payroll. I thought this would be a fun hypothetical. Would you rather keep shoveling $35 million dollars to an injury prone, aging John Wall, or just give that to an unproven rookie in Haliburton from day 1. I know that’s impossible, but I don’t like either option I just gave you.

John- Oof, good one. I’d probably pay John Wall. When healthy John Wall is a 5-time All Star, good enough to be on the ALL-NBA 3rd team. He’s also spent a decade in DC, giving back to the community in numerous ways in that time. We’ve watched him grow into a man and now a father. Wizards fans may be the only ones but there’s hope he regains most of his pre-achilles tear form while acclimating to the aging process that all guards go through.

I have to add, everything I’ve read and seen on Tyrese Haliburton indicates he is exactly the kind of young man that you want to invest in. A winner, a worker and driven internally not a guy who needs to read social media slights to gear up for his next contest or work out. He’s still a rookie so it’d be hard to approve the same $131.5 million over the next 3 years that the team owes John Wall.

Dylan- Tyrese lacks John Wall’s athleticism and quick first step, but makes up for it in playmaking, and being, in my rose-tinted-glasses-opinion, the best pick n roll point guard in this year’s class. After a decade of the John Wall experience, would you rather the Wizards draft for an ultra athletic guard like Anthony Edwards (not that I think he’ll fall to the 9th pick, but more so the play style than the player himself) or a more traditional point guard like Haliburton for the next decade?

John- My answer is partly about John Wall and partly about Bradley Beal. Beal’s 2019-20 season showed how far he’s come as an on-ball player. The Wizards consider themselves to have co-point guards because they will be running a lot of offense through Beal first. So in this draft I may lean toward an off guard and shot creator. That’s where we run up against some of Tyrese’s few negatives. He can run an offense and make every read but there are concerns about him compromising a defense enough to create shots. And when he does create them can he get them off with his release?

If shot creation is #1 on the list of draft priorities my #2 would be decision making, specifically how quickly players can make the *right* decision. Haliburton is clearly running on some next gen processors with his decisions. Decision making isn’t a strength of Anthony Edwards and the shots he creates aren’t all good ones. I have to give him a bit of a break as one of the youngest players available who was asked to do too much at Georgia. We forget Nic Claxton was supposed to be on that team too before deciding to keep his name in the draft. Claxton went #31 to the Nets.

Dylan- Let’s say Tyrese Haliburton and Killian Hayes are both still on the board when the Wizards make their pick. Outside of LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards, those two seem to be the most highly touted guards in the class of 2020. Do you feel strongly one way or the other about picking in between those two, or would you be happy with either?

John- I’d be happy with Killian Hayes or Tyrese Haliburton. The Wizards priority is finding some interior defense presence so my favorite fit is the oft-mentioned Onyeka Okongwu. Limited it to just those 2 with the Wizards on the clock I’d say they can’t go wrong. Both guards have a high level ‘feel’ for the game. Haliburton gets the edge for running a team but I’d probably give Hayes the edge in pick and roll experience. He just ran so dang many of them last season. He also shows some next level footwork needed to create shots, even as lefty dominated as his game is right now.

Post-Date Thoughts- In dating terms, this is kind of like going after girl who already has a boyfriend. It’s not impossible, but it seems a bit unnecessary. Unless Beal gets moved in the off season, the Wizards don’t make a lot of sense for Haliburton. As John alluded to, the Wizards are trying to shape a young team, and they could use a young rim protector more than a guard, especially at the 9th slot if the top 4 guards are gone by then, Haliburton included.

That being said, if Haliburton ‘falls’ to the 9th pick, about 2-3 spots lower than he’s projected, the Wizards have potential. He’s older than some of the prospects in this Wizards’ locker room, and could be a leader in the locker room once Wall and Beal move on from the team.