The rise of Tyrese Haliburton has the Indiana Pacers back on track

A few seasons ago, the Indiana Pacers blew up the good team they had. As they lost playoff series after playoff series, year after year. The Pacers were eliminated in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs for five straight seasons. The quick rebuild was just that… a quick rebuild as Tyrese Haliburton has helped propel them back into a potential playoff spot in the year and a half that he has been in Indy.

Tyrese Haliburton
(Jacob Kupferman / Associated Press)

Haliburton has had a busy but also relaxing off-season. He spent a week with teammate Buddy Hield in the Bahamas, then he hit Tulum before going to Los Angeles to work out with his trainer Drew Hanlen. Not to mention, the 23-year-old is coming off of his first All-Star appearance in his third NBA season.

On July 6, the All-Star guard signed an enormous five-year $260 M contract extension with the Pacers. This inevitably making him the face of the franchise. Throughout his basketball journey, Tyrese Haliburton has not been highly touted. In fact, he was a three-star prospect coming out of high school and was expected to redshirt at Iowa State. From there, he became a lottery pick, drafted 12th overall in the 2020 draft by Sacramento. The Kings traded him in a mid-season deal during the 2022 season.

Haliburton’s rise has happened pretty quickly. Typically three-star high school prospects don’t make it to the NBA in their first two years. As for many NBA Players, there have been some doubts. Though, Haliburton has been proving those doubters wrong. Since being traded to Indy, he’s brought energy and speed to the Pacers’ offense.

Room for growth?

The team showed flashes of a very promising young team, both collectively and individually. Haliburton averaged 20.7 points and 10.4 assists (both career highs). There’s definitely still room for improvement for both Haliburton and the Pacers. The Pacers remain to be one of the youngest teams in the NBA heading into the 2023-24 season.

The Pacers traded away G Chris Duarte and brought in F Obi Toppin. The moves allow for more growth for the Pacers’ offense. Toppin provides depth at the forward position rather than the Pacers being stacked at the guard position.

The Pacers finished with a 35-47 record, ranked 11th in the East a season ago. There’s lots of room for improvement there. Whether it be they jump up into the Play-In or straight to the top. Haliburton will lead the team wherever they go. When both Haliburton and Myles Turner, the Pacers played with the same net rating that the Heat played with all year.

“I think that the best thing about Tyrese Haliburton—having him as your franchise player—was just, from the Pacers’ perspective, they’ve talked about the fact that there are murals painted on buildings of Reggie Miller and that they think that Tyrese can get to that level at some point,” said Caitlin Cooper of Basketball, She Wrote. “The way that he’s embraced the city and what he means as a franchise star, you can believe that [they’re] going to get there.”

Last season, Haliburton showed us what he was capable of. Though that is nowhere near what his ceiling might be. In the three-point contest, Haliburton made 31 points in the final round. He’s proved that he deserves to be a Top 10 NBA Point Guard. I ranked him ninth on my list heading into the 2023-24 season. If he continues to play like he has, he could move up the list.

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