Haliburton's teammates were thrilled to see him be named an All-Star
Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton is a first-time NBA All-Star this season. Haliburton is averaging 20.0 points and 10.3 assists per game this campaign, and the Pacers are 23-20 when he plays. He has been excellent this year.
It became official last Thursday that Haliburton would be representing the Pacers in the big game, which takes place in Salt Lake City on February 19. Haliburton is the first Indiana All-Star since Domantas Sabonis in 2020-21.
Haliburton is one of just a few players averaging double digit assists per game, and he's been terrific in the clutch this season. His development has the Pacers in Play-In tournament positioning after 55 games, which few expected before the year.
"It felt good. I don't want to sit up here and sound arrogant or anything like that. Coming into the day, I just felt like I had a really good opportunity. I felt like I've had a good opportunity for the majority of the year. Just excited that it's official," Haliburton said of being named an All-Star. He had 26 points and 12 assists in a game the night that it became official.
"I've worked really hard to get here. In year three, I never expected that I'd be able to accomplish this in three years in the NBA. But I'm really excited. I just thanked my teammates, thanked my coaching staff and front office for believing in me. You don't do this alone, it takes a village. Just really excited to go to Utah and represent the Indiana Pacers," he added.
The Pacers are 2-10 when Haliburton doesn't play this season, which is perhaps the biggest indicator of how talented and important he is as a player. The blue and gold have a net rating that is 3.56 points per 100 possessions better when their All-Star is in the game compared to when he is on the bench. He sets the team in motion and is a significant part of the team's identity on and off the court.
"All-Star. He just lights up our building. Our team plays a different game [when he's out there]," Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said of Haliburton being named an All-Star. Carlisle has praised Haliburton often this season, even calling him a basketball genius earlier in the year.
All of Haliburton's teammates were thrilled to see their leader be honored for his terrific season. All Pacers asked a few for their reactions to the news this week.
"Well deserved. Obviously, you see what he does for our team. I've been on a lot of teams, I've never seen an impact that significant where someone like him goes down and the team struggles to find their way," veteran forward James Johnson said. That's high praise coming from someone who has played with Dwyane Wade, Luka Doncic, Kevin Durant, and even Derrick Rose during his MVP season. "He brings confidence, he's entertainment. And like I said, well deserved."
Haliburton makes his teammates better. Of the 13 players on the Pacers roster who have shared the court with the All-Star guard this season, nine of them have a better effective field goal percentage when they share the hardwood with Haliburton.
Aaron Nesmith gets the most benefit out of the All-Star's terrific passing. His eFG% with Haliburton on the court is 56.1%. That drops to 43.0% without the point guard. "I was happy. It's a great moment," Nesmith told All Pacers of Haliburton being named an All-Star. "Playing in his third season, being able to make the All-Star team, it's phenomenal. It's happy, it's great for everybody."
Then, he discussed some of Haliburton's on-court impact. "The game opens up so much more. The ball moves, guys run because he pushes the pace. It's a big difference between when he's out and when he's here," the young wing said.
Daniel Theis, who has played with Nesmith during each of the last three seasons, also detailed how significant Haliburton's impact is. "Well deserved. You saw what he did all year. 20 and 10, helped us win a lot of games down the stretch. He worked hard every day. You saw when he missed all those games, we lost a lot of them, so well deserved," Theis said. He has only played with Haliburton for 20 minutes this season after recently returning from injury , but even Theis has already seen the effective field goal percentage bump that Haliburton can provide.
Haliburton is still just 22-years old, so there are likely more All-Star appearances coming in his future. In the present, though, his teammates know how talented and important he is, and none of them are surprised that Haliburton is headed to All-Star weekend.
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