Haliburton’s Final Stats and Takeaways
At the end of the day, Tyrese Haliburton had quite an impressive game coming off the bench. In 17:06 of playing time, down from his 21-ish minutes per game from the exhibitions, Haliburton recorded 10 points (4/5 FG, 2/3 3PT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 2 turnovers, and 1 foul as Team USA earned a 99-72 win over a New Zealand team that was threatening a bit of a scare in the first half.
Once again, Team USA’s offense just looked way more fluid and productive with Haliburton on the floor, with his +/- of +13 being a key indicator of that. This game in particular was one to write home about, as many were surprised with the hesitation of Steve Kerr to play Haliburton big minutes despite the results evidently being there.
Steve Kerr’s downright refusal to tweak the starting lineup has been something of note in the exhibition games and now in this first game against New Zealand as the current starting 5 of Brunson, Edwards, Bridges, Ingram, and Jackson has been called out for being too iso-heavy and not having enough playmaking. Many have suggested starting Haliburton in place of Brunson, or even starting Haliburton over Brunson altogether, as the production on the floor takes a sharp spike with Haliburton on the floor, as shown by the box score against New Zealand, with Austin Reaves being a favorite teammate of his, as the two have put up magic together in their time sharing the court in a Team USA uniform.
As a matter of fact, the bench trio of Paolo Banchero, Austin Reaves, and Tyrese Haliburton worked wonders for Team USA in the first game, with all 3 of them showcasing great shot-making ability on fantastic efficiency.
However, this does not mean you can expect all, or even any of them to make the leap to the starting lineup, as Kerr more than likely has his starters set in stone and will not let anything change that, for whatever reason.
Despite this stubbornness by Team USA’s coach, this has not stopped Haliburton from building up some great chemistry with teammates such as Anthony Edwards, Cam Johnson, and Austin Reaves, with his excited reaction to Reaves’ dunk at the end of the final exhibition game against Germany becoming something of a viral clip over the past few days.
Expect this to be a running theme through USA’s run in the World Cup, where the starters produce mixed results to start off the game, which leads to the reserves leading a great run in the second half, righting the ship for the red, white, and blue.
As a matter of fact, Haliburton’s arrival was so important, that New Zealand’s coach even emphasized his checking into the game during his team’s huddle in the first quarter, signaling them to watch out for his passing ability.
With this being the case, it is truly a mystery as to why Haliburton is still coming off the bench, as any wise man would see the change in production he leads for his teammates and look to start him over one of the more iso-heavy players.
For now, Tyrese can rejoice in the fact that his abilities are not going unnoticed, as he has become somewhat of a social media darling in the past couple of weeks due to his flashy passes, frantic style of play, and likable personality off the court.
One can only hope this leads to increased minutes on the court, as Team USA sure needs any production they can get out there, as they were struggling against a Steven Adams-less New Zealand team for a good chunk of the first half until the second unit got in there and cleaned things up, led by Haliburton and Banchero.
Team USA’s next game is on Monday against Greece in a rematch of one of the exhibition games, and one can only hope Steve Kerr recognizes Haliburton’s contributions and gives him some more run.