Now that we’ve had a couple of seasons to assess their play, we believe it’s about time to start a serious debate: Tyrese Maxey vs Tyrese Haliburton. They’ve both exceeded expectations already, at least in terms of where they were picked in the 2020 NBA Draft, and they both figure to be franchise cornerstones for years to come.
Maxey and Haliburton haven’t only been as two of the best young players in the NBA. They’re currently playing like two of the best guards in the league, period. Their offensive explosions and playmaking skills figure to grant them plenty of All-Star — and even All-NBA — nods in years to come.
They’re similar, yet different, and chances are you couldn’t go wrong either way. But if you were to choose, who would you rather have on your team right now and for the future? Let’s break it down.
Tyrese Maxey vs Tyrese Haliburton: Who would you rather have?
For starters, the Haliburton vs Maxey debate needs to be categorized. Otherwise, it simply wouldn’t be objective. With that in mind, we’ll break them down in simple categories to see who ends up getting the nod.
Both of these young men have proven that they can get buckets almost at will. They’re both deadly in transition, can pull up from all over the court, and have a nice mid-range game. They also make the most of their speed to drive to the rim and draw contact.
Haliburton is slightly more efficient. He has a 67.7% true shooting percentage for the season, as opposed to Maxey’s 61.1%. He’s also got better shooting splits (51.8/45.8/92.6 to 46.6/42.5/93). Maxey is more aggressive, more versatile as a scorer, averages more points per game, and is getting to the line at a higher rate.
Truth be told, neither of these players are known for their defense, nor will they ever be. Haliburton has long arms and is good in passing lanes, and he’s shown some promise as a help defender. He can get some stops when locked in, but he’s not exactly a good on-ball defender at this point in his career.
Maxey, on the other hand, often struggles in switches and usually takes possessions off on the defensive end of the ball. He has quick hands, so he can get some occasional steals, but he’s not much of a difference-maker on that end of the court. This is pretty much a tie.
When it comes to playmaking, Tyrese Haliburton is second to none in today’s game. He’s got the potential to be one of the greatest point guards in NBA history, not only because of the way he pulls the strings of the offense but also because of how elite he is at taking care of the ball.
He’s currently leading the league in assists per game by a wide margin (12.0), all while averaging just 2.6 turnovers per game. That’s a 4.6 assist-to-turnover ratio, which would be .6 better than Chris Paul‘s career AST-TO average, which is the highest in league history. Maxey has made great strides in that regard and is currently averaging a whopping 7.0 assists per game, but Haliburton is simply God-tier right now.
Both players can take over a game at any point. Also, they both made their teams comfortable making big moves. For the Pacers, they didn’t hesitate to give up on Domantas Sabonis because they thought they could land a franchise cornerstone in a young man like Haliburton. So far, so good, as he seems to have them way ahead of schedule in their rebuilding process.
As for Maxey, watching him play and take such a major leap forward in his game made Daryl Morey realize that it was about time he parted ways with James Harden. The Sixers didn’t need to go through all that trouble and the burden that came with Harden if they already had an elite scorer and solid playmaker next to Joel Embiid for years to come. They’re both special, so it’s a tie here.
The Pacers gave Haliburton the keys to the offense right away. Rick Carlisle put together his entire scheme around him, and he embraced it from day one. He was just a young player who hadn’t even established himself as a perennial starter in Sacramento, but he didn’t hesitate or seem unfazed by the responsibility of becoming a franchise player right away.
Maxey was in a different situation. He wasn’t the alpha dog in the locker room, and he had to earn his stripes day by day. Even so, he repeatedly stated that he would be ready to embrace a bigger role if the Sixers needed to move on from James Harden, and he’s lived up to that example. However, we give Haliburton the nod here because he doesn’t have a legit star by his side like Maxey.
These guys should be in the MVP conversation in no time, and chances are they’ll compete against each other for that distinction multiple times for years to come. They both have sky-high potential, although it seems like Haliburton could end up being the league’s leader in assists for the next decade.
Maxey’s potential as a scorer is bigger, but Haliburton is responsible for almost half of his team’s offensive production with his scoring and playmaking. He’s only going to get better as a passer and a facilitator, and we’re talking about a 15+ APG kind of player, perhaps the best in that regard in NBA history.