Every NBA rookie has a welcome to the NBA moment, most often when they are faced with a superstar for the first time. That’s precisely what happened to Kings’ rookie Tyrese Haliburton when he faced Damian Lilliard.
Dame is one of the best point guards and shooters in the league. Lillard’s insane range and game under the rim makes him one of those “pick your poison” players. You know he’s scoring, but let’s try and make it as painless as possible.
The Kings rookie was a guest on J.J. Redick’s podcast, where he was asked about his “Welcome to the NBA moment” so far. He talked about how Lilliard just killed the Kings with his logo shots.
“They beat us bad then they played us again and Dame, they told me the pickup spot was 40 [feet] like pick him up at 40. And he [Lillard] shot it from half-court, and I said, ‘Coach, I know you said 40, but he just shot it from 50. I don’t know what you want me to do here.‘”Tyrese Haliburton, The Old Man and The Three
The strategy was obviously picking up Dame on the perimeter and live with him attacking the rim. But that’s what makes Dame special, he defies conventional basketball thinking. Instead of attacking the rim, he just starts shooting from the logo. Haliburton shouldn’t be down on himself; much better players have the same experience facing Lillard.
Haliburton has been one of the most pleasant surprises this season, looking like the steal of the 2020 Draft at number 12. The Iowa State alum has been averaging 11.1 points and 5.3 assists through 12 games. Everyone was perplexed why his agent told teams he’d like them to pass on him so Haliburton could go to the Kings.
Many experts questioned his jump-shot or, to be more specific, his unorthodox form and how it would translate to the NBA. Those that doubted him are proven wrong as Haliburton is shooting 51 % from three-point territory, ranking third among all rookies. If he takes some pages out of Lilliard’s book, he could be something special for the Kings.