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The Kings couldn’t have dreamed Iowa State point guard Tyrese Haliburton would fall to them in the NBA Draft, but somehow he was still on the board when it was time to make their pick.
The Kings selected Haliburton with the No. 12 pick in Wednesday’s draft, seizing the opportunity to pick a player many thought would be taken in the top five. The 6-foot-6, 175-pound point guard averaged 15.2 points, 6.5 assists and 5.9 rebounds last season at Iowa State, shooting 50.4% from the field and 41.9% from 3-point range. He was an 82.2% free-throw shooter and an advanced-stats star, according to Tankathon.com.
After the Kings made their selection, ESPN analyst Bobby Marks said: “They are the winners of the night so far.”
Haliburton was seen celebrating with his family and donning a Kings cap after the pick was announced on ESPN.
“It’s an amazing night – really fun,” Haliburton said. “I’m landing in the perfect spot. Sacramento is a perfect spot for me. … I’m just ready to get to work right away, ready to create relationships with these guys and bring Sacramento back.”
ESPN’s cameras also captured footage of the Kings’ front office, led by general manager Monte McNair, exchanging fist bumps in the team’s draft room.
CBS Sports described Haliburton as a “savvy player on both ends of the court with high IQ/feel; very good passer who makes smart decisions and doesn’t beat himself.” The website added Haliburton is “one of the most efficient guards as a scorer and facilitator” with “deep shooting range that should translate to the NBA 3-point line seamlessly, but he has a “skinny frame that needs real physical development.”
Haliburton has an odd shooting release, but he is remarkably efficient in catch-and-shoot situations and has drawn comparisons to Lonzo Ball. He has a 6-7 ½ wingspan, good lateral quickness and a competitive drive, giving him a nice set of tools on the defensive end.
The Kings made their selection hours after news broke that their sign-and-trade agreement sending Bogdan Bogdanovic to the Milwaukee Bucks was in danger of falling apart before it could be finalized. A source told The Sacramento Bee that Bogdanovic never agreed to the deal.
If that deal can’t be salvaged, Bogdanovic will enter the market as an unrestricted free agent Friday, Justin James will be returned to Sacramento and the Bucks will take back Donte DiVincenzo, Ersan Ilyasova and D.J. Wilson.
That development added even more uncertainty to the proceedings for the Kings, who were preparing to make their first draft pick under a new regime headed by McNair.
The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards with the No. 1 pick. Memphis center James Wiseman went to the Golden State Warriors at No. 2 followed by Illawarra Hawks point guard LaMelo Ball to the Charlotte Hornets at No. 3.
The Chicago Bulls provided the first real surprise of the draft when they chose Florida State small forward Patrick Williams with the fourth pick. Auburn small forward Isaac Okoro went to the Cleveland Cavaliers at No. 5.
After USC center Onyeka Okongwu went to the Atlanta Hawks at No. 6, the Detroit Pistons took gifted French combo guard Killian Hayes, a player some analysts believed could fall to the Kings. The New York Knicks chose Dayton power forward Obi Toppin at No. 8, Israeli small forward Deni Avdija went to the Washington Wizards at No. 9 and the Phoenix Suns took surprised by taking Maryland power forward Jalen Smith at No. 10.
That left a whole host of prospects on the board for the San Antonio Spurs at No. 11 and the Kings at No. 12. The list included Haliburton, Villanova small forward Saddiq Bey, Florida State small forward Devin Vassell, Vanderbilt small forward Aaron Nesmith and Alabama point guard Kira Lewis Jr. The Spurs chose Vassell, allowing the Kings to snag Haliburton at No. 12.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
2. Golden State Warriors: James Wiseman, C, Memphis
3. Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks
4. Chicago Bulls: Patrick Williams, SF, Florida State
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn
6. Atlanta Hawks: Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC
7. Detroit Pistons: Killian Hayes, PG, France
8. New York Knicks: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton
9. Washington Wizards: Deni Avdija, SF, Israel
10. Phoenix Suns: Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland
11. San Antonio Spurs: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State
12. Sacramento Kings: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State
13. New Orleans Pelicans: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama
14. Boston Celtics (via Grizzlies): Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt