I figured it was too good to be true.
The NBA Lottery's original date, May 19, was fast approaching, despite the fact that the NBA regular season was still in a frozen stasis due to COVID-19. A part of me thought the NBA would just continue forward and hold the lottery and use the current standings to determine who would have the top picks in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft, but that, of course, was a pipe dream.
On May 1, the NBA announced that the NBA Lottery and NBA Scouting Combine would be postponed until the health and safety of team personnel and the players could be guaranteed.
So for an indefinite amount of time, Tyrese Haliburton will have to wait to hear his name called by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, but that won't stop me from giving my top three landing spots for where I think the former Cyclone star would have the best success in the NBA.
If the 2019 NBA Lottery was any indication, team orders can change dramatically, so take these picks with a grain of salt. Still, if everything relatively goes according to plan and these teams are still picking in the lottery, these are my top destinations for where I think Haliburton will have the best future at the professional level.
1. Phoenix Suns (Currently projected as the No. 10 pick)
Something about the sound of having a roster with Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Kelly Oubre, Aron Baynes and Tyrese Haliburton makes me think of a playoff team waiting to happen.
The Suns have been viewed as a team on the rise over the last two seasons, and with Booker taking the next step this past season in most statistical categories, I think the last piece the Suns need to take them over the top is a young dynamic playmaking point guard.
Pairing Haliburton with Booker in the back-court sounds like a match made in heaven to me, and with Booker primarily playing as a shooting guard, Haliburton could easily find his way past Ricky Rubio into the No. 1 point guard spot. Haliburton's addition would bring a playmaker alongside Booker to take away the load of the main scoring responsibility off of Booker's shoulders.
Haliburton could start off-ball and let Booker work toward beefing up his assist numbers and make defenses honor a true second-scorer on the perimeter. And if that doesn't work, Haliburton could take control of the offense and have Booker be off-ball, leaving Haliburton do what he does best: facilitate.
Booker would watch as defenses would be forced to collapse to stop Haliburton from possibly going right through the teeth of the defense to the rim, all while allowing him to swing it back out for Booker to have as easy of a shot as he wants. Not to mention, Ayton could be waiting wide open as well.
Haliburton could also open up the Suns' use of the pick and roll with Ayton, something that Rubio or Booker haven't paired together with Ayton as of yet. Haliburton has plenty of experience of utilizing pick and rolls to create offense for his team, whether it was George Conditt or Solomon Young.
And out of all the teams I am going to mention, the Suns' biggest need is clearly at the point guard spot where the two best options for the Suns are Rubio, who turns 30 in October, and Jevon Carter. Rubio's $16 million salary would be something the Suns would likely want to get away from as soon as they can, and bringing in Haliburton would automatically give the Suns the young, playmaking point guard that could take them back to the playoffs.
2. Detroit Pistons (Currently projected as the No. 5 pick)
The phrase "rebuild" gets thrown around quite a bit in sports. And while I think being bad doesn't automatically qualify as a rebuild, the Detroit Pistons fit the bill of a rebuild to a T.
After dealing away Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson for basically nothing, the Pistons are looking ahead to building a contending team through the draft, and picking Haliburton would be a good start.
Derrick Rose is the only point guard under contract for next season, signaling that roster turnover could be on the way by the end of the season (whenever that may be). That's why I think starting fresh with a point guard who will make anyone he plays with better could be a nice kickstart to the rebuild process.
Obviously, the Pistons could really select any position in the draft, and I don't think anyone would be upset about it because there are holes everywhere you look on the current roster. Blake Griffin has issues staying healthy, so perhaps the Pistons will want to find a player to pair alongside him to shore up the front-court.
In my mind, the biggest need for the Pistons is help at point guard.
Outside of Rose, Brandon Knight and Jordan Bone are the other two options at point guard. Knight is a fine player, but I think taking Haliburton would bring a huge playmaking boost to a roster that has no one with that clear-cut ability.
With a rebuild comes a long process that takes carefully orchestrated moves to bring in the right pieces and draft capital to truly build a winner. Haliburton's selection will be a nice start, but to avoid wasting Haliburton's talent, the Pistons will have to act fast to surround him with other talented players to make Haliburton's abilities shine.
3. New York Knicks (Currently projected as the No. 6 pick)
You can never have too many point guards, especially in today's NBA. And I think the New York Knicks are no exception.
This year's draft class has solid choices at the point guard spot, with Lamelo Ball touted as the top point guard in the class. Outside of Ball, Killian Hayes and Cole Anthony are really the only lottery point guards that could bump Haliburton up or down in the lottery, but I think the Knicks need someone who can shoot and shoot it well at the point guard spot.
Haliburton shot 50.4 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from three last season before his season-ending wrist injury in February. These numbers exceed every point guard the Knicks have right now.
Dennis Smith Jr. is clearly going to be around the Knicks for a while, especially after they grabbed him in the trade for Kristaps Porzingis two seasons ago, so pairing him next to Haliburton would seem like a solid backcourt to give the Knicks something to celebrate.
Smith Jr. shot 28.9 percent from three last season and has found himself shooting in the low 30s for his career, making Haliburton's 41.9 percent mark a true sharp-shooter from the outside that would give defenses something to actually fear in the half-court from distance.
Elfrid Payton averaged 10 points per game in his 27.7 minutes a game this past season. Payton shot 43.9 percent in his field goals but had an ugly mark of 20.3 percent from three.
One of the Knicks' young pieces is Frank Ntilikina, who shows signs of promise but has injuries that have kept him from developing at a fast rate. Ntilikina averaged 6.3 points per game in 20.8 minutes a game this season, shooting 39.3 percent on his field goals and 32.1 percent from deep.
No matter which point guard the Knicks value the most on their roster, Haliburton's shooting is better than the options they have right now. I think bringing in a true scorer alongside Julius Randle and Smith Jr. would make for an intriguing start to making the Knicks relevant again.