After an unexpectedly hot start to the 2022-23 season, the Indiana Pacers have begun struggling as of late. It's clear, though, that one guy who is not contributing to their struggles is Tyrese Haliburton. The third-year guard has made the Pacers look like one of the smartest teams in the league for prying him away from the Sacramento Kings at the trade deadline last season, and with Haliburton leading the way, Indiana has a very bright future.
Haliburton and Barnes take aim at Wally Szczerbiak
Haliburton has been one of the best playmaking point guards in the league this season, as he is averaging a double-double in points and assists per game. Haliburton's 10.7 assists per game are also leading the league, and when you add that to his strong defensive tendencies, it's looking like he's making an All-Star push this season.
If you ask Wally Szczerbiak, who formerly played in the NBA from 1999-2009 and is currently a commentator for the New York Knicks, Haliburton is a "wannabe All-Star." Szczerbiak went on a tirade against Haliburton after the Knicks' win over the Pacers on Sunday earlier this week, and it led to a lot of backlash around the league, including from Haliburton himself and another former NBA player in Matt Barnes.
"I know the name Wally Szczerbiak. I couldn't tell you where he played. I couldn't tell you what he did as a basketball player. I don't know. He had a lot to say about me. I was really, like, questioning, like, first, who is this? And why is he talking about me like this…I don't know if I ever came out and said, like, 'I wanna be an All-Star this year. Please vote for me.'" - Tyrese Haliburton, Bleacher Report
“This bum a** motherf***er Wally Szczerbiak…Tyrese Haliburton, who's leading the league in assists, calling him a fake All-Star and fake this and fake that, and it's just like, why? Like, what's the point of that? … I don't see why former players feel like it's their spot. Does it make them feel better to disrespect these guys? To me, this s*** is super weak. I don't like it." - Matt Barnes, What's Burnin'
Could Haliburton prove Wally Szczerbiak wrong and become an All-Star this season?
Many people are confused as to why Szczerbiak, who actually was an All-Star with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2001-02 season, had such a vendetta against Haliburton. Haliburton has been a perfect fit with the Pacers this season, and it's telling that only one other player in the league (Trae Young) is averaging at least 10 assists per game right now.
Considering how Haliburton has managed to get his teammates involved while scoring 19.5 points per game, it seems he has a decent shot at earning his first career All-Star appearance this season. Szczerbiak doesn't feel like Haliburton is an All-Star this year, but even if that does not come to fruition for the young guard this season, it's hard to believe that Haliburton won't finish his career with more All-Star appearances than Szczerbiak when all is said and done.