Why Pacers’ Tyrese Haliburton has dazzled in 5 games for Team USA

Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton forces Steve Kerr's hand in Team USA win
Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton forces Steve Kerr's hand in Team USA win /
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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – AUGUST 07: Tyrese Haliburton #4 of the United States talks with head coach Steve Kerr. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – AUGUST 07: Tyrese Haliburton #4 of the United States talks with head coach Steve Kerr. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Final Thoughts and Takeaways

When it was all said and done, Tyrese Haliburton’s averages for the 5 FIFA World Cup Exhibition games would be the following:

8.6 PPG (59% FG, 37.5% 3PT, 100% FT), 7.4 APG, 3 RPG, 1 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 1.2 TOV, and 1.6 FPG in about 20 minutes per game

As you can see, some very interesting numbers across the board, but they get even more interesting when you look at the numbers.

For one, Tyrese was averaging 10 assists per game after 3 games, before his game 4 disappointment and game 5 scoring outburst. 2 separate games of 12 assists also helped his average from dipping down too much after those final 2 games for a respective 7.4 average, the highest on Team USA by quite a bit.

In addition to the assist numbers, the points average also needs some context. Leading up to the 16-point performance vs Germany, Tyrese was only averaging 6.7 points per game through those 4 games, with the final performance raising his points average by 2 whole points. Prior to this game, there were doubts by some people, myself included that Tyrese Haliburton have a breakthrough scoring performance and really carry the offensive load for a while. Those doubts were thankfully silenced against Germany and Tyrese not only upped his scoring average but made fans excited to see what he could do in the tournament.

One final thing to note is the efficiency. 59% from the field and 37.5% from behind the line are great numbers on paper but they need more context. The most notable thing to bring up is that Haliburton’s three-point shooting was very streaky leading up to the Germany game. Prior to this game, Haliburton was shooting 3/12 from behind the line which equates to 25%. In said Germany game, he hit 3 of 4 threes, which upped his stats to 6/16, which led to the aforementioned 37.5% clip. What this tells us, is that Tyrese’s scoring ability and efficiency were very much unremarkable until his explosion on Sunday against Germany. On one hand, this is a problem, as one performance carrying the load of his averages might be a problem, but on the other hand, there is a silver lining, as Haliburton’s breakout performance coming in the final game perhaps means that we could see more of this during the tournament. Perhaps Team USA’s coaching staff saw this performance as an indication that Haliburton needs the ball in his hands more, or perhaps needs to start in place of Brunson, which is slowly becoming a consensus agreement among fans.

Personally, I have been very vocal in my support of Haliburton replacing Brunson in the starting lineup, or at the very least, being inserted into the lineup alongside Brunson, who is better suited to play shooting guard in a lineup like this. With Team USA’s current lineup being so isolation-heavy (Edwards, Brunson, Ingram), It would make a huge difference for the better if one player was moved to the bench in favor of a playmaker to initiate the offense and look for others. Perhaps this is why a lineup involving some combination of Haliburton, Edwards, Austin Reaves, and Cam Johnson works so well, as this lineup has given Team USA the most success so far. It is so evident, in fact, that some have even called out Steve Kerr for needlessly benching Haliburton during the fourth quarter or different stretches of the game.


Either way, if there is a change that needed to be made, I am confident that Team USA’s coaching staff will make it happen. Steve Kerr, Erik Spoelstra, and Ty Lue are three of the best coaches the NBA has to offer and they did not earn 7 times among them for their inability to make adjustments. If anything, I am excited at how they will use Haliburton going forward in the tournament, as they definitely are aware of his positive effect on the USA offense, and at some point, his ability becomes undeniable and a change might have to be made, because 9 times out of 10, that Germany game goes the other way and Haliburton won’t be there to pick up the pieces in time.

Overall, Tyrese Haliburton’s performance in the limited time he saw on the floor for Team USA had some ups, some downs, and some very interesting moments. One thing is for sure though, they did nothing but make me excited for the FIBA World Cup starting and Team USA perhaps making a run for the gold with this young team of budding superstars.

The FIBA World Cup officially starts on Friday, August 25 with Finland vs Australia, however, Team USA’s first official FIBA World Cup game is on Saturday, August 26, at 8:40 PM Eastern Time against New Zealand.