Opinion: Why Tyrese Haliburton to the Cavaliers makes sense

Tyrese NBA Draft Analysis series design

Stephen Mcdaniel

Editor’s note: Over the next five weeks, the Iowa State Daily sports editors will be doing a series on why every team that has a top 10 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft makes sense for Tyrese Haliburton and why he would want to play with them.

The Cleveland Cavaliers is a team that’s still in the early stages of the rebuilding process after losing future Hall-of-Famer LeBron James to the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2018 free agency period, following an NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors.

In the NBA drafts following the loss of James, the Cavaliers elected to draft their back court of the future, with their front court being led by veterans like Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Andre Drummond after trading for Drummond in February.

In the 2018 NBA draft, the Cavaliers selected Alabama guard Collin Sexton with the No. 8 overall pick. Sexton has become Cleveland’s leading scorer in his second year after averaging 20.8 points per game, shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc and shooting 47 percent from the field.

In the 2019 NBA draft, the Cavaliers selected Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland with the No. 5 overall pick. In his rookie year, Garland averaged 12.3 points per game, a team-high 3.9 assists per game, shot 40 percent from the field and shot 35 percent from three.

Why the Cavaliers want Tyrese

There’s one glaring issue with the Cavaliers and their 1-2 punch-guard combo of the future in Sexton and Garland: play-making.

Now, take this with a grain of salt considering Garland is still coming off his rookie year and Sexton has only played two seasons in the NBA. There’s still plenty of time for these two to blossom into the franchise players Cleveland is hoping them to be.

But in the 2019-20 NBA season, the Cleveland Cavaliers were among one of the worst teams in terms of team assists per game, averaging about 23 assists per game.

When the Cavaliers drafted Sexton and Garland, they drafted two predominantly scoring guards, neither of which were ever the ones to rack up assists in college.

As a rookie, Garland was the one to lead the Cavaliers in assists with 3.9 assists per game, meaning no one else on Cleveland’s roster averaged more than four assists per game.

While the Cavaliers could definitely knock out other needs with the No. 5 overall pick, they could pick up another young guard that could serve as their future ball handler and playmaker of the future.

Cleveland has the option of joining the recent trend of using a small ball lineup with Tyrese dishing out the ball to different scorers around the court.

Why Tyrese wants the Cavaliers

Like mentioned before, one of the popular trends in the NBA as of recently is to play a small ball lineup. The Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets are two teams that are perfecting the use of a small ball line up, both of which are NBA Finals contenders when healthy.

For Haliburton, going to Cleveland would allow him to shine as a ball handler and a playmaker alongside two other young guards in Sexton and Garland.

There’s been talk of Cleveland trading away forward Love, and recently acquired Drummond has the chance to hit free agency, but let’s say Cleveland elects to keep those two, despite the large contracts.

Haliburton could establish a great pick-and-roll offense with Drummond and has the option of being able to kick it out to Sexton, Garland or Love, who can all knock down shots from 3-point range.

Plus, you never know, maybe James will make one last stop in Cleveland and Haliburton can play with someone whom many consider the greatest basketball player of all time.

Going to Cleveland also allows Haliburton to develop his skill set alongside the young duo of Sexton and Garland, while the Cavaliers would gain a player who’s fit to be a great ball handler and playmaker with the pieces it already has.