Thoughts on Tyrese Haliburton and Isaac Likekele

January 27th, 2020

By Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch Iowa State’s 6-5 sophomore point guard, Tyrese Haliburton play against Oklahoma State in a Big 12 conference basketball game that took place on January 21st. I had heard that Haliburton’s jump shot had really improved this year, and that he’s gotten readjusted to the new college three-point line. In this game, he made 6 three-pointers in his team’s win over Oklahoma State, so I wanted to see how well he’s improved, as well as to gauge his skills for the NBA. Here are my thoughts on how he fared, as well as how he and the other prospects’ games may translate to the next level.

Tyrese Haliburton is a contender to be the top pick of the 2020 NBA Draft.  (Photo: Charlie Neibergall/The Associated Press, via KTVO.)
Iowa State’s sophomore point guard, Tyrese Haliburton played very well in his team’s win over Oklahoma State. (Photo: Charlie Neibergall/The Associated Press, via KTVO.)

Tyrese Haliburton had a very good showing in his team’s victory over Oklahoma State. He shot the ball really well from downtown, he showed off solid court vision, and he also played very well defensively to help the Cyclones get the win.

Haliburton did a great job of knocking down threes to provide floor spacing for his team on offense. He excelled at making open corner threes, and he has shown a much quicker release than the last time I saw him play. He excelled at making spot-up threes off the catch, and he has a lot of range on his shot. He also would’ve made a pull-up mid-range jumper after dribbling left off of a screen, but his teammate was called for setting a moving pick another time. Plus, Haliburton also ran the floor to score on a two-handed dunk on the break late in this contest.

Plus, he also displayed solid playmaking skills. Haliburton is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he possesses very good court vision. He excelled at passing off the dribble, as he would throw crisp passes to teammates in transition to notch assists, and he also can find cutters. He can throw no-look passes with ease, and he does a very good job of finding his teammates on the move. However, sometimes he would throw inaccurate passes that would go astray, and he also committed a charging foul off of a drive that led him to commit another turnover.

He also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He was able to chase down a ball to get an offensive rebound, and he would tend to leap up to get offensive boards, as he would bring the ball up the floor off of them.

Also, Haliburton played fairly good defense. He is an active, rangy help defender that has good length, athleticism, and anticipation skills, and he can cover plenty of ground defensively. He was able to fly in from the blind side to block a shot ferociously off the glass, and he would poke balls away from opponents to collect steals. Plus, he also would play passing lanes to get deflections, and he would use his length to close out on shooters to force misses. Plus, he also has good agility, length, and footwork, as he was able to cut off penetration when guarding an opposing ball handler to get his man to pass the basketball.

However, he had a tendency to bite on pump fakes, as he would get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to allow scores. He also committed a reach-in foul on a drive due to over-aggressiveness. On another play, he sagged too far off his man, which led him to allow an opponent to score on a three-point basket.

In general, Tyrese Haliburton played very well in his team’s win over Oklahoma State. He has shown a much improved jump shot lately, which has greatly complemented his strong playmaking and defensive skills. In a draft where there does not seem to be player that is a lock to go number one, Haliburton is a very good draft prospect that could project to be a solid starter in the NBA, and he is a smart, skilled playmaker that has a high basketball IQ, and his versatility and solid set of all-around skills could enable him to be a top 3 pick in the 2020 draft.

Oklahoma State's sophomore point guard, Isaac Likekele projects to be a second round prospect for the 2020 NBA Draft.  (Photo: Sports Illustrated, via Zach Lancaster.)
Oklahoma State’s sophomore point guard, Isaac Likekele projects to be a second round prospect for the 2020 NBA Draft. (Photo: Sports Illustrated, via Zach Lancaster.)

Oklahoma State’s sophomore point guard, Isaac Likekele had a fairly good game in his team’s loss to Iowa State. Though he struggled to make shots consistently, he excelled in the non-shooting or scoring related elements of the game to help his team stay in the contest.

Likekele showed a decent ability to score in the post. He was able to dribble quickly to the block, as he was able to establish deep position, and he proceeded to score off the glass using a drop step move. He also backed his man down another time, but had his shot blocked that time.

While he didn’t take many jumpers, Likekele was able to make an open, spot-up three off the catch in the lone three-point attempt he hoisted up from beyond the arc. It’s clear that he has the capacity to knock down long-range jumpers, he just needs to trust his outside shot more, and he needs to attempt many more threes with vivid ferocity.

However, Likekele became all too predictable in wanting to score on drives to the basket, and while he can draw plenty of fouls and get to the free throw line on aggressive moves to the hoop, he would often miss by trying to force up wild floaters in traffic. He also had a tendency to miss on off-balanced shots off the dribble as he would rush his shots in traffic, and he displayed questionable shot selection by attempting to score on isolation plays too often. In addition, he did not do a very good job of making his free throws, as he only made 60% of them when he was at the foul line.

Plus, he also displayed fairly good playmaking skills. Likekele is an unselfish player that will swing balls to open shooters to rack up assists, and he also managed to find a cutter on an inbounds pass to set up a score another time. However, he can sometimes struggle to protect the basketball, and he had a ball poked away on a wild drive in transition that led him to commit a turnover once.

Also, Likekele did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He was active at crashing the glass, as he was able to haul in plenty of boards on both ends of the floor to get his team rebounds.

He also played solid defense. He showed a knack for getting steals and deflections, as he has very good length, athleticism, and instincts to do so. Likekele would get his hands on passes and poke balls away to get a plethora of steals and deflections. He also has very good speed, footwork, and motor to trap opposing ball handlers, and he also managed to contest a long two-point shot off the dribble to force a miss. On the downside, he would sometimes be called for touch fouls on the defensive end due to over-aggressiveness. On a separate play, he got beat off the dribble, as he ended up allowing a pass that went to a roll man who then scored the basketball.

In summary, Isaac Likekele is an athletic, high-motor playmaker that can pass and defend when he is on the court, but he will need to improve his jump shot and ability to score the basketball. Right now, he will need to be far more assertive in taking three-point shots, as that will open up the rest of his game if he can work hard to improve his long-range jumper. Right now, he may be a second round prospect for the upcoming draft. If things break his way, he could end up being an effective role player in the NBA.

Oklahoma State’s 6-6 senior guard, Lindy Waters III played fairly well in this game, as he especially excelled in the first half by showing off a solid ability to shoot and score the basketball, and he is a crafty player that can help aid a team’s offense. He cooled off in the second half though, but he still did a good job of making shots and passing the ball in this contest.

Waters did a good job of knocking down threes to space the floor for his team on offense. He was able to use a pump fake to make an open three on the break, and he also ran off the ball to knock down another open, spot-up three off the catch. Plus, he also was able to make a quick three off the dribble, and Waters did a very good job of making long-range jumpers for his team.

He also did a good job of scoring off of crafty drives, as well as in the post. Waters would use crafty ball handling moves to score off the dribble, and he can draw fouls upon his defenders. He also got deep position to get a score on the block once. However, he had trouble making mid-range jumpers, and he didn’t seem to take enough shots in the second half.

Waters displayed decent playmaking skills. He is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, as he can find open shooters and as well as teammates on the break to notch assists. He also did not commit a single turnover in this game.

Also, Waters did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He would leap up to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he was quite active on the glass. Sometimes, he would bring the ball up the court after getting defensive rebounds.

Plus, he also played adequate defense. Waters would catch errant passes that were thrown right to him by opponents to get steals, and he also did a good job of deflecting passes, as he would get in passing lanes to make it difficult for his opponents to get their passes through. He also was able to contest a turnaround, pull-up mid-range jumper to force a miss. Sometimes though, he would give up too much space to shooters, as he would allow them to score on three-point shots. Other times, he would be late on his rotations, as he committed a foul on a roll man that led his team to allow a score and a free throw that time.

Overall, Waters is a skilled wing player that can shoot and pass the basketball. While he may only be an average athlete, he is a smart player that has a high basketball IQ, and he could be one of the better seniors in the country. He has the talent to make the Portsmouth Invitational this year, and he may have the skills to potentially end up finding his way to an NBA team as a shooting specialist at the next level.

Iowa State’s 6-8 redshirt junior big man, Solomon Young put forth a terrific performance in his team’s win over Oklahoma State, as he scored 27 points and hauled in 9 rebounds off the bench to get his team the victory.

Young showed a knack for scoring on hustle plays. He was able to score on a strong put back in traffic, and he also showed a penchant for scoring on rolls to the rim. He also ran the floor to score on a powerful dunk on the break, and he also excelled at drawing free throws when going for rebounds and when rolling to the rim. The impressive aspect was that not only did he draw many free throws, but he also made a lot of them when he was at the foul line.

He also showed a decent ability to score in the post. Young is a strong, mobile big man that can get deep position in the paint, as he was able to use a drop step to score on a powerful dunk, and he also did a good job of scoring on jump hooks. He also excelled at drawing fouls upon his defenders as well. Plus, he also used a jab step to make a long two-point shot from just inside the arc.

However, he was quite turnover prone on offense. For the positives, he is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass to keep the ball moving, as he will swing the ball to open shooters. He can pass out of the post, as he was able to find a cutter to set a scoring chance for a teammate once. On the downside, he set a couple of moving screens that led him to commit offensive fouls and turnovers, and he also committed a three seconds in the key off the ball by being in the paint too long. On a separate play, Young threw an inaccurate pass that ended up getting picked off.

Young did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He was quite active at crashing the glass as he would leap up to get numerous boards on both ends of the floor, and he also dove for an offensive rebound to get one in this game.

He also played adequate defense. Young showed a knack for blocking shots, as he can swat shots hard off the dribble to force misses, and he has good strength to hold his ground when defending in the post to force misses. He would actively rotate to help defend drives, and he has good athleticism and timing to get opponents to miss shots. However, sometimes he would struggle to defend in the post, as he may be a bit undersized to defend inside, which would occasionally lead him to commit fouls and allow scores. Also, he can sometimes be late on his rotations, so he may not always contest shots on time.

Overall, Solomon Young played very well in his team’s win over Oklahoma State. He is an athletic, high-motor player that can make energetic plays on both ends of the floor, but he will likely need to improve his jump shot and extend his shooting range, and also show that he can guard quicker players out on the perimeter. Most likely, he will need to stay in school another year to hone his game, but he may have the skills to end up being a backup combo forward as a defensive specialist in the NBA if he can continue to progress as an overall player.

Oklahoma State’s 6-7 senior forward, Cameron McGriff had an adequate showing in his team’s loss to Iowa State. He was able to score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he also displayed solid playmaking and rebounding skills when he was on the court.

McGriff did a good job of knocking down open, spot-up threes off the catch. Plus, he also showed a knack for drawing fouls, as he did a good job of getting to the free throw line after looking to score in the post. However, he did miss a turnaround jumper over a smaller defender when he wasn’t able to get a foul call from the block, though. He also missed on a runner off of a baseline drive when trying to aggressively get to the hoop another time.

He also possesses a good ability to score on hustle plays. In this game, McGriff was able to run in to score on an athletic tip slam off of an offensive rebound.

Also, he displayed decent playmaking skills. McGriff is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass to keep the ball moving, and he can throw accurate interior passes and also find shooters to set up scoring chances for his teammates. Plus, he also set a good off-ball screen that enabled a teammate to score on a jumper once.

He also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. McGriff would frequently crash the glass to haul in numerous boards on both ends of the floor, as he possesses a keen nose for the basketball.

He will need to improve his on-ball defense, though.   On the bright side, he was able to contest a shot in the post after his team allowed an offensive rebound to force a miss. On the downside, he had some trouble defending opponents in the post due to his lack of size when guarding taller players, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores. He also got beat off the dribble once, as he allowed his man to score on a floater. On a separate play, he was late to contest a shot, which led him to allow his opponent to score on a long two-point shot.

Overall, Cameron McGriff is a strong, mobile combo forward that could potentially project to be a 3 and D type of role player in the NBA. He will need to improve his ability to create his own shot and ball handling skills, and he will have to be a more focused position defender in games. Also, his shooting percentages have been down this year, so he will need to be able to consistently make jumpers this season. Right now, he may be a borderline second round prospect for the upcoming draft, but if he can play as well as he did in this game, he could perhaps end up making his way to a team’s roster in the association.

Iowa State’s 6-3 sophomore guard, Rasir Bolton played fairly well, as he excelled as a shooter, scorer, rebounder, and defender in his team’s win over Oklahoma State. He did a very good job of shooting and scoring the basketball. He can make threes off the catch or dribble, and he has a nice step back move that enables him to create separation between himself and his defender. He also managed to score on a floater, and he showed a knack for drawing many free throws on strong, aggressive drives to the basket. Sometimes he can struggle to score in traffic though, as he would sometimes miss tough shots in the paint.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills. Bolton did a decent job of finding open shooters to notch assists, but he also was quite turnover prone. Sometimes he would lose the basketball, and he also threw a pass that got intercepted. He posted up once, but was called for traveling due to taking one too many steps.

Bolton was a chairman of the boards in this game, as he did a great job of rebounding the basketball. He was especially active at crashing the defensive glass to get his team numerous boards on that side of the ball. Plus, he played adequate defense. He would get his hands on passes to get steals and deflections, and he also would contest jumpers to force misses. He had a tendency to commit fouls off of drives though, and sometimes he would make bad rotations that would lead opponents to get scores. In addition, his lack of size may make it difficult for him to contest jumpers, as he also allowed a taller player to score on a jumper once.

Overall, Rasir Bolton is a skilled combo guard that possesses above average athletic gifts, and his ability to put up points in a hurry helped enable Iowa State to get the victory over Oklahoma State. He will need to show that he can effectively run the point if called upon to do so, and he will have to show that he can guard upper echelon players. Right now, his ability to make shots could be his calling card at the next level, as he may project to be a microwave type of scorer in the NBA, and he could be a second round prospect for the 2021 draft.

Other Notes:

Oklahoma State’s 6-6 senior swingman, Jonathan Laurent is an athletic, energetic player that can score on hustle plays as well as off of isolation plays in one-on-one situations. He was able to score on a cut as well as in transition, and he also drew free throws on a put back. Plus, he did a good job of scoring on strong drives to the hoop, as he was able to score on a powerful, two-handed dunk. He also used an up and under move to score in the post. However, he struggled to make jumpers, as he missed all of his three-point shots from beyond the arc.

He also was fairly active on the glass, as he would leap up to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor. However, he also was called for a loose ball foul when going for a defensive board, as he ended up tripping an opponent.

In this game, he was quite turnover prone. He had some trouble handling the basketball, especially when facing considerable ball pressure, and he also was called for setting a moving screen. He also played perhaps above average defense. Laurent was able to poke a ball away to get a steal, and he also drew a charge on a drive. Sometimes though, he can be caught ball watching and can be late on his rotations, which can lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Laurent is an athletic, high-motor swingman that can score off the dribble and in the post to get his team points, and he also will get his team rebounds. However, he will need to improve his jump shot and ball handling ability, and he will need to be a more focused defender in games. He will need to improve upon his weaknesses, but even still, he may have the skills to make his way onto an NBA team’s summer league roster either this year or sometime in the future.

Oklahoma State’s 6-4 senior guard, Thomas Dziagwa did a very good job of knocking down three-point shots to space the floor for his team. He ran off of a ball screen to make a quick three from way out, and he also used a pump fake to make a pull-up three another time. Plus, he also made a contest three-point shot. Though he didn’t look to take the ball to the rim very often, he also used a pump fake move to score on a reverse layup off of a baseline drive.

Overall, Dziagwa is a skilled combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball. Though he may be an average athlete at best, his ability to knock down jumpers could help a team’s offense at the next level. Right now, he has been a solid role player for his team, and he could end up making an NBA team’s summer league roster either this year or sometime down the road.

Iowa State’s 6-10 sophomore center, George Conditt IV did not have his best game, but he was able to make some good plays when he was on the court. Though he started the game, he did not see much playing time as he was plagued with turnovers and foul trouble in this contest.

Conditt showed an adequate ability to score in the post. He was able to use a spin move to score on a smooth, turnaround jump hook, and he also scored on another jump hook. Sometimes, he can struggle to score in traffic though, as he had his shot blocked once, and he also may not always have his shooting touch, as he missed on a turnaround jump hook another time. Also, he was unable to draw any fouls or get to the free throw line in this game.

Conditt also displayed adequate playmaking skills. He is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass to keep the ball moving. After getting the ball on a roll to the rim, he was able to swing the ball to a shooter in the corner to notch an assist. On a separate play, after backing his man down in the post, and found a cutter to set up another score for his teammate. He did commit several turnovers, as he can sometimes throw hasty passes that would get intercepted, and he also dropped a catchable pass that went to an opponent.

He also was able to get a couple of defensive boards, as he was able to chip in to get his team a pair of rebounds.

Defensively, he looked to be fairly average. Conditt managed to block a shot off of a drive to a teammate due to possessing good length, athleticism, and instincts to do so. He also held his ground in the post and contested the shot to force a miss on a separate possession. However, he would tend to commit fouls due to over-aggressiveness. He tended to pick up quick fouls when guarding in the post, and he had trouble holding position on the block. On a separate play, he got beat on a baseline drive, which led his team to allow a dunk.

Overall, George Conditt IV is an athletic, project player that will still need to stay in school to hone his game. Right now, he may project into a defensive specialist role, but he will need to expand his skill set considerably on offense, and he will need to be a more disciplined defender in games.

Currently, he may be a borderline second round candidate, but if he comes out too early, NBA teams might not be patient enough to develop him as an overall player. Right now, he may be a similar player to former Indiana Pacers’ center, Ike Anigbogu. Conditt will need to work hard to improve his game, but it’s possible that an NBA team may take a flier on him in the second round as a player that could project into a rim protector role at the next level.

Oklahoma State’s 6-10 sophomore center, Yor Anei did not play very well, as he struggled to make shots and was quite foul prone in this game. For the positives, he is an athletic big man that can pass the basketball and set screens. When he was doubled from the high post, he managed to find an open cutter to notch an assist. Anei also set a good on-ball screen that enabled a teammate to score on a drive another time.

He also has good length and athleticism, as he was able to get a score around the basket, and he also used his length to contest a corner three to force a miss. However, Anei tended to miss shots in the post, despite showing off solid moves and footwork to get his shots off, as he had trouble finishing plays in the paint. He also tended to pick up quick fouls, as he would look to try to block every shot when rotating on drives, but his over-aggressiveness would lead him into foul trouble. He also struggled to defend in the post, as he would tend to get beat on moves that would lead him to allow scores.

Overall, Anei did not have his best game, and though he played well early on, he’s been struggling to make an impact in conference play. If he can get his game on track, he could find more ways to stay on the floor, and he can start by making shots more efficiently, and by being a more disciplined defender on the court. Right now, he may project to be a borderline second round candidate, but in a favorable scenario, his size, athleticism, and defensive potential could enable him to project into a backup center role akin to former Milwaukee Bucks’ center, Dan Gadzuric in the NBA.