14 Games In: Haliburton, Williams, Evans & More
Tyrese Haliburton is making a case to become the most exciting Kings rookie since…well, let’s take a look at the numbers
On the night of the 2020 NBA Draft, most Sacramento Kings fans were hoping for even a shred of a productive player out of the 12th spot.
Of course, over the years there has not been much hope regarding the team’s draft process. Why would 2020 be any different? Especially due to the fact that Sacramento did not hold a top-three, top-five or even a top-ten pick.
As names started to come off of the board, one name started to pick up steam among draft experts and fans on social media: Tyrese Haliburton, a 6’5 guard from Iowa State.
Sacramento was tabbed as one of the winners of the night by multiple outlets, a change in reception compared to how the public viewed the team’s most recent drafts.
After an impressive preseason and even more impressive beginning to the 2020-21 regular season, the Tyrese Haliburton hype is real.
Over the 20-year-old’s first 14 games, the numbers are beyond impressive:
- 11.4 points per game
- 3.0 rebounds per game
- 4.9 assists per game
- 1.2 steals per game
- 0.7 blocks per game
- 50% field goal percentage
- 47% three-point field goal percentage
- 81% free-throw percentage
- 28.0 minutes per game
Haliburton has solidified himself in the rotation as–arguably–the second-most important player in the rotation behind star guard De’Aaron Fox.
Head coach Luke Walton has made a point to have the rookie on the floor during crunch time, playing him for the closing minutes of most games so far due to his impressive defense and veteran-like playmaking ability.
With Haliburton taking the league by storm and the team in the midst of an extended break from action, let’s take a look at some other exciting Sacramento Kings rookies’ first 14 games in the NBA.
The fourth-overall pick in the 2009 Draft, Evans had a rookie season that Kings fans will never forget.
Evans would go on to claim the Rookie of the Year Award after becoming the first rookie to average 20+ points, 5+ rebounds and 5+ assists per game since Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
But did Evans’ first 14 games produce the hype that we have seen from Haliburton?
Over his first 14 games, Evans definitely scored the ball more than Haliburton, but at a less efficient rate (19.1 points per game on 45-percent shooting from the field). The 6’6 guard also averaged 1.4 steals per game to go along with 4.8 assists.
As Kings fans might remember, Evans was not known as an outside threat.
Slicing and dicing into the lane for a creative lay-in was Evan’s forte. While both of these players have different play-styles, the hype is reminiscent when comparing the 2009-10 Rookie of the Year and Tyrese Haliburton.
Boogie was another rookie that generated tons of excitement during his first season with the team.
Over Cousins’ first 14 games, the number-five pick in the 2010 draft held averages of 10.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.8 blocks while shooting 38-percent from the field.
Of course, Cousins would go on to make the All-Rookie first team after finishing the season with averages of 14.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game on 43-percent shooting.
The former Kentucky Wildcat did not come into the league with a hot start like Haliburton, but we all know the player that Cousins turned into: a perennial All-Star prior to a series of unfortunate injuries.
The 60th and final pick of the 2011 draft, Isaiah Thomas started his rookie season as an afterthought behind the likes of Evans, Marcus Thornton and rookie guard Jimmer Fredette.
Comparing Thomas’ hype to those like Haliburton, Cousins and Evans is not really a fair comparison when doing so in a 14-game sample size.
Now, the hype surrounding Thomas would skyrocket by the end of his rookie season, with the future All-Star eventually moving into a starting role the following season.
Averaging 6.2 points and 1.6 assists over his first 14 games wouldn’t mean much in the grand scheme of Thomas’ career.
The hype was real for ‘White Chocolate’.
Williams burst onto the scene in 1998-99, making an immediate impact over his first 14 games:
- 14.4 points
- 3.2 rebounds
- 5.9 assists
- 2.4 steals
- 41% field-goal percentage
- 37% three-point field goal percentage
- 37.1 minutes per game
J-Will was selected to the 1998-99 All-Rookie team after finishing his rookie year with averages of 12.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.9 steals per game.
The way that Williams and Haliburton handle themselves within the offense is eerily similar, with this year’s rookie showing a knack for no-look passes and slick fake-outs.
Although Williams’ time in Sacramento was short, his play inspired a new generation of playmakers and has made the black number 55 Kings jersey one of the most popular among the fanbase.
‘The Jet’ was a dual threat for the Kings during his rookie season in 1987-88, finishing the year with All-Rookie honors after scoring 13.8 points per game on 47-percent shooting to go along with 7.1 assists and 1.5 steals per contest.
Over his first 14-game sample size, Smith held averages of 15.4 points, 7.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
The production from Smith generated tons of hype, reminiscent to what Haliburton has brought to this year’s Kings team–scoring, playmaking and above-average defense.
Over his first 14 games as a pro, ‘L-Train’ generated tons of hype with his impressive play.
Simmons, the seventh-pick in the 1990 draft, posted 16.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 44-percent from the field.
The 6’7 forward made an immediate impact on the offensive end for Sacramento while also showing his defensive prowess.
Simmons would be selected to the All-Rookie team at the end of the 1990-91 season.
Williams was the seventh-pick in the 1992 draft, a 6’8 forward out of Maryland.
His 14-game sample was noteworthy, with numbers of 15.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.0 steals per game.
After averaging 17.0 points per game for the season, Williams was selected to the 1992-93 All-Rookie team at the end of the season.