Sacramento Kings v Golden State Warriors
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 20: Tyrese Haliburton #0 of the Sacramento Kings dribbles the ball during the game against the Golden State Warriors on December 20, 2021 at Chase Center in San Francisco, California.
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Tyrese Haliburton is establishing himself as one of the NBA's most promising young guards

Tyrese Haliburton is helping keep the Kings playoff hopes alive with his strong play in December.
by Jonathan Bradley

Tyrese Haliburton is quietly having the best month of his young career 

The second-year guard entered rarified air in Sacramento’s Dec. 22 game against the Clippers, becoming the first Kings player since Larry Drew in 1982 to record four-straight games of 20-points, 10-assists.  

He has already put up six double-doubles in the month of December – surpassing his total from all of last season – and has helped the Kings stay alive in the Western Conference’s ultra-competitive playoff race.  

The team is currently 5-6 this month, and you can see Haliburton’s fingerprints on all five wins.  

During Sacramento’s three-game winning streak in early December, Haliburton tallied two double-doubles and twice tied his season-high for threes (5) in victories against the Clippers and Magic.  

In the team’s 14-point win over the Wizards, who looked like one of the East’s best teams early in the season, Haliburton nearly put up his first career triple double, filling up the stat sheet for eight points, nine assists, eight rebounds, a season-high three blocks and three steals. 

The Kings were then struck by the injury bug as well as a rash of players entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols. And while the squad only managed to win one of their next three games, Haliburton stepped up even more in the absence of stalwarts like De’Aaron Fox and Richaun Holmes. 

He is having what is easily his most impressive stretch of his career, averaging 23.5 points and 11.3 assists over the last four games. For reference, in Haliburton’s five double-doubles his rookie seasonhe didn’t score over 20 points in any of them. 

More impressive has been his shooting from long range. After hitting just 38 percent of his threes the first two months of the season, he’s shot 45.2 percent from deep in December, including an absurd 50 percent over the team’s last three games. 

That type of success doesn’t go unnoticed. And opponents are starting to game plan for the 6-foot-5 guard, like the Warriors, who deployed a Box-and-1 defense against the Kings in their Dec. 20 matchup. 

“I think a lot of is it’s the ultimate credit to Ty, to run a box-and-1 against him. I mean, the kid is growing before our very eyes every single night.” Acting interim head coach Doug Christie said.  

“Even the hard [isolation], making sure that (Gary) Payton was on him many times – he was physical with him. But Ty played a fantastic game.” 

If Haliburton, who has logged over 37 minutes in each of the last four games, can continue to play as well as he has in December when Fox and key reserves like Davion Mitchell and Terence Davis return to the lineup, this team has the potential to quickly erase the 3.5 game gap currently separating the West’s 12th seed and 6th seeds.  

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