Knicks great Carmelo Anthony reflects on wanting franchise to draft Tyrese Haliburton in 2020

Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) shoots the ball while New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) defends in the second half at Gainbridge Fieldhouse
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks missed out on a prime opportunity to draft Indiana Pacers All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton back in 2020, a decision that franchise great Carmelo Anthony recently lamented.

Knicks: Carmelo Anthony’s Foresight on Tyrese Haliburton’s Upside Was On The Money

Anthony spoke on wanting the Knicks to select Haliburton prior to draft night on the premiere of his new podcast, as Andrew Crane of The New York Post shared:

“Haliburton would be someone I always like,” Anthony said during the first episode of his new “7PM in Brooklyn” podcast. “I was trying to get him with the Knicks like years ago, like, ‘Yo, draft him. … I wasn’t even on the Knicks, but like, ‘Yo, y’all better draft him.’”

Haliburton carried a lot of buzz coming out of college as well as in his rookie season with the Sacramento Kings. The Iowa State product was looked at as a scoring threat that carried much potential as an outside shooter.

While his ascension to All-Star status did not come as a surprise to most, Haliburton establishing himself as a blue-chip distributor in the league has been a luxury to the Pacers franchise and a reason to regret for the Knicks.

New York wound up taking Obi Toppin over Haliburton with the No. 8 overall pick in 2020. Toppin spent three years in New York and gave the Knicks valuable minutes off the bench but was dealt to Haliburton’s Pacers in the offseason and has yet to break out.

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Could Haliburton Have Made the Knicks Championship Contenders?

Fortunately, the Knicks were able to acquire Jalen Brunson ahead of the 2022-23 campaign and cultivate him into a fringe All-Star in his own right. However, Haliburton brings elements to the floor that could have solved many of the Knicks’ problems.

Outside of being the 15th player in NBA history to average at least 20 points and 10 assists in a season, Haliburton plays with an uptempo pace and finds creative ways to set up his teammates in transition. Not only do the Pacers have the No. 1 offense in the league, but their 17.2 fast break points per game are also an NBA best.

His quick decision-making would have aided a Knicks team that ranks No. 28 in pace and struggles to generate offense in the half-court. Anthony’s assessment hits the nail on the head. Whether or not the Knicks would be on par with the upper crust of the Eastern Conference is unknown, but Knicks management will use that draft blunder as a lesson learned with a slew of lucrative picks coming up in the next three years.