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NBA Speed Dating: Phoenix Suns

How about getting Tyrese to the desert?

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 our friends from Bright Side of the Sun for our latest installment.

A - The Suns just went 8-0 in the bubble and are likely to be in the playoff hunt next year. Is PG a position you believe needs an upgrade to make the next step?

BS - Ricky Rubio had an incredible year and was one of the more underrated point guards in the NBA last season, but he is getting up there in age and mileage and the Suns will need to find their point guard of the future to hopefully groom under him (or Chris Paul, cough cough) [UPDATE: The Suns traded for Chris Paul about 30 minutes after this discussion] for the next couple of seasons. Phoenix has been connected to Chris Paul trade rumors, and local reporters have insisted that they will do everything they can to hang on to the 10th overall pick in this year’s draft. Should they keep their pick and make their selection, I believe landing a point guard will be high on their priority list.

A - What type of role could you see Tyrese Haliburton playing as a rookie? What about his skill set is most appealing to the Suns?

BS - Haliburton should thrive as a 2nd engine on an offense that wreaks havoc in transition and elevates the “floor” of a team with his ability to make others around him better through his elite court vision and genius basketball IQ. His ability to hit catch-and-shoot threes and play off-ball is what makes him an interesting fit next to a creator and scorer such as Devin Booker. On the defensive side of the ball, his team-defense is incredibly disruptive through his strong anticipation and high feel for the game, making the right rotations more often than not. His on-ball defense could use some work and adding functional core strength should be high on his priority list his first couple seasons in the NBA.

A - Who is a Suns player past/present that is a fair comparison for Tyrese?

BS - As for Suns-specific comparisons, I couldn’t pinpoint any perfect matches, but there are some similarities between him and Jason Kidd as far as the size, court vision and basketball IQ goes. The most accurate comparison in today’s game would be Lonzo Ball, as they have similarities in the role they will serve as a combo guard with terrific floor vision and plus size.

A - Monty Williams hasn’t been the Suns’ coach for too long, but what can you tell us about his track record with rookies?

BS - Monty is an excellent coach, and an even better teacher for young men. He’s forged plenty of relationships with young point guards over the years as a head coach and associate head coach with the likes of Chris Paul, Jrue Holiday, Russell Westbrook, Ben Simmons and many others. Phoenix is an ideal landing spot for any rookie to thrive in with their league-leading 27.2 assists per game in an offense that is predicated on ball-movement and playing selfless basketball.

A - How can Tyrese best compliment the Suns’ stars, Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton?

BS - Haliburton could serve as a linking piece and elite role player that forms a mutually beneficial relationship with Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and sharpshooters Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson who also each happen to be excellent cutters that Hali could reward with his pristine passing ability. The pieces are in place for Haliburton to succeed and be brought up in a situation where he isn’t asked to do too much right away.

Verdict

I felt sparks here. I definitely am contemplating the “3 Days Rule” before calling this team again. Phoenix has everything that I’m looking for in a landing spot for Tyrese. Do they have stars? For sure. Devin Booker is already a star, and DeAndre Ayton is on that path as well. Tyrese doesn’t have to be a major contributor right away. Do they need a point guard? Yes! No offense to Cameron Payne, but backup point guard is a huge hole they need to fill. Chris Paul is also here now. I can’t think of a better mentor for a rookie PG than CP3. Can the team be competitive? Definitely! The Suns come into 2021 with all kinds of momentum after the 8-0 run in the bubble. Here’s the problem: the Suns aren’t likely to trade up from the 10th pick, and Tyrese isn’t likely falling to 10th overall in the lottery. I hope Phoenix trades up to get him, but I won’t hold my breath.