The case for and against Knicks drafting Tyrese Haliburton No. 8 in the 2020 NBA Draft

Alex Smith
·4 min read
Tyrese Haliburton at Iowa State
Tyrese Haliburton at Iowa State

While the Knicks had hopes of landing the No. 1 overall pick in November's 2020 NBA Draft, they currently find themselves in possession of the eighth overall pick. 

The team could always try to trade up, or maybe even acquire assets to trade back. And while standing pat at No. 8 may be the least exciting move, the Knicks could still land a talented rookie in that spot. 

So let's take a look at some of the pros and cons of potential draft options for the Knicks, whether it's through moving up or staying in the eighth spot, continuing with Iowa State point guard Tyrese Haliburton.

The case for drafting Haliburton

Haliburton's numbers during his sophomore season with the Cyclones speak for themselves. He averaged 15.2 points, 6.5 assists, and 5.9 rebounds, all while shooting 59.2 percent from the floor overall and 41.9 percent from three-point range. 

At 6-foot-5, 185 pounds with long arms and an impressive wingspan, Haliburton fits the mold of the new-age point guard in the NBA. He loves getting his teammates involved and would likely thrive in an up-tempo system where he can navigate the open court and either find his teammates or attack the basket himself. 

Though he's played at different positions throughout his college career, and that versatility could help him in the NBA, he thrived as the Cyclones' point guard, even when he needed to take on more of a scoring role as a sophomore. 

And after all, a point guard who can score consistently seems to be exactly what the Knicks need most. Dennis Smith Jr.'s flashes of athleticism are there, and Frank Ntilikina has proven to be a strong defender whose shown signs here and there of improving on the offensive end, but neither player seems to be the ideal fit for that the Knicks are looking for from their floor general.

New York has a young rim-protector in Mitchell Robinson and a rising wing in R.J. Barrett who seems perfectly suited for the pressures of playing in New York, but Haliburton could give the Knicks that young, offensive-minded point guard they've been looking to acquire. Haliburton is quick, efficient, takes god care of the ball, and seems to be able to run an offense in the half court and push the ball in transition. 

All of the tools are there for Haliburton to be the total package in the NBA.

The case against drafting Haliburton

Height and length are no issue for Haliburton, but he's going to have to add to his frame unless he wants to be bullied around by other NBA guards. Adding muscle is something just about all rookies must do, but it's especially true for the long, lanky guard.

The Oshkosh, Wisc. native has been an efficient shooter in his college career, but he also has a slow release on his jumper and typically doesn't create open jumpers for himself. Playing against bigger, quicker defenders in the NBA, Haliburton's slower release could be an issue, and if he struggles to get to the basket because of his slight frame, his mid-range and three-point game could suffer. 

Haliburton has some flaws offensively when creating for himself, and the Knicks already have two young point guards who fall into that same category. Would the team feel hesitant to draft another athletic guard, like Ntilikina, knowing that he still has plenty of room to grow as a shooter?

Plus, if a push-the-tempo offense is what Haliburton is best suited for, then Tom Thibodeau's system may not be right for him. Thibodeau's teams are known more for hard-nosed defense that a prolific fastbreak attack, which may not maximize Haliburton's potential.

Another thing to consider is the Knicks' possible trade efforts for a veteran point guard like Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook. It's likely that any trade talks for a player of that caliber would include the eighth pick, but in the unlikely case that the Knicks held on to the pick, drafting a young point guard that high in the draft would probably be unwise if the team acquired a true veteran to run the show.