Sacramento Kings

Tyrese Haliburton: Can Sacramento Kings rookie strengthen Rookie of the Year case with late run?

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Through the bulk of the season, Tyrese Haliburton has ensured his name remains in the Top 3 alongside LaMelo Ball and the Anthony Edwards in the Rookie of the Year race.

Heading into the final leg of the regular season, the 21-year-old out of Iowa State who's averaging 12.8 points and 5.2 assists for the season, has a chance of stregthening his case but will it be enough?

His opening comes as the team's starting point guard De'Aaron Fox is put into the league's health-and-safety protocols.

In the two games since then, in consecutive nights, Haliburton is averaging 19.0 points, nine assists, four rebounds and two steals in 36.5 minutes of action.

Fox's absence combined with Ball's extended time out (19 games) and Haliburton's superior positive effect on wins as compared to Edwards, gives the 6'3" guard a shot at making a late successful run at ROY honours.

Against the Warriors, although the Kings failed to cap off the game late, Haliburton came up huge in the fourth and gave them a chance at the win by scoring 15 of their 21 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field.

Against Dallas, on Monday night (ET), he recorded his fourth double-digit assist game of the season, dishing out 10 to go along with his 14 points and three steals.

He didn't have his shot falling as well in this one, going 6-of-16 from the field and 2-of-9 from distance but the Kings prevailed 113-106 and he remains among the best shooting players from the 2020 Draft Class with shooting splits of 47 percent from the field, 40.6 from beyond the arc and 84.6 percent from the free-throw line.

Fox could miss another five games and the Kings are most likely out of the Play-in race, trailing by six with about 10-11 games left. This should work well for the Kings to give Haliburton the start and opportunity to show off skills against teams like the Utah Jazz and places like the Staples Center in Los Angeles and the American Airlines Arena in Dallas.

It could possibly get the best out of him, not only for consolidating his ROY case but also repaying the team's faith in him which could lead to him emerging as a long-term cornerstone in Sacramento alongside Fox.

Only time will tell if he can make up the gap in these games and make picking the Rookie of the Year that much tougher for all voters but he's certainly got the chance.

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