Sports Column

Pacers have found their new Reggie


I’m just going to come right out and say it: Tyrese Haliburton could go down as the best Pacer in history. And this is coming from a guy who tries really hard to not overreact to the latest trends and hot-takes in the sports world. This is also coming from a guy who grew up watching Reggie Miller and the magic that #31 brought to the state of Indiana. I’m not crowning the young Pacers star just yet, but the bottom line is this: Tyrese Haliburton is playing historic basketball right now. At just 23 years old, he’s going to be a Pacer for a very long time… and when it comes to his game, he’s just getting started.

For the season, Haliburton is averaging 25.3 points and leads the NBA with 12.3 assists, while shooting at an elite level (52.1% FG, 46.2% from 3, 91.2% FT). It’s only 14 games into the year, but no point guard has ever finished a full season with those numbers. He’s currently fourth in the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating (PER), leads the NBA in assist to turnover ratio, and leads all guards with 11 double-doubles. People around the game are starting to take notice:

“I’ve never seen this combination of shooting and passing,” said Paul Pierce. “The way he can shoot and score, and his passing as a point-guard, it’s elite.”

Kevin Garnett agreed, posting recently: “Haliburton in that convo. What convo? Yeah.. that convo.”

In Tuesday’s wild victory over Atlanta, Haliburton joined James Harden as the only players in NBA history to put up 35+ points, 15+ assists, and 9+ 3’s in a game. And you could argue it wasn’t even his best performance of the season. Just one week earlier, Haliburton had 33 points, 15 assists, and zero turnovers against Philadelphia, becoming just the fourth player in NBA history to have a 30/15/0 in a game. The Pacers played two straight games in Philly, and Haliburton finished those games with a ridiculous 58 points, 32 assists, and zero turnovers. Earlier this year, Haliburton became the first Pacer to ever record 40 points and 10 assists in a game. These are video game numbers. He also had a 25 point quarter, and is the main reason the league’s worst defense still has a winning record.

It’s a different era and not fully comparable, but it’s still fun to look at the stats. Steve Nash was winning MVP’s by averaging 19 points and 10 assists per game. You could argue Haliburton’s game has a little Nash, CP3, and even some Steph Curry mixed in. ut could Haliburton actually surpass Reggie one day as the greatest Pacer? He’s on the right track.

Reggie is one of the greatest shooters in the history of basketball. He was amazing in the clutch. He led the Pacers to their only NBA Finals appearance, and he gave us so many incredible moments. Haliburton will have to play deep into the Playoffs many times before fans will put him in the same conversation as Reggie. If that happens, look out. Though their games are different, their mentality has similarities. After sinking several 3’s in a game recently, Haliburton looked right at an opposing fan and yelled: “This is your fault! You did this!” Haliburton will also signal “Time-out” to an opposing coach when the Pacers are hot. Who could forget the “Hali-gallop” when sealing the game in Atlanta? He’s been quite GIF-able this year. How Reggie-esque of him.

When it’s all said and done, Tyrese Haliburton will be among the greats in franchise history.  We’ve been waiting for another Reggie. After all these years, I believe he has arrived.