Tyrese Haliburton is on an absolute tear this season which is a little painful for Suns’ fans as Haliburton could have been drafted by the Suns in 2020, but they decided to take Jalen Smith instead. Now, three years later, Haliburton is leading the Pacers to the finals of the first ever In-Season Tournament.
So, is Tyrese Haliburton better than the Suns’ own Devin Booker? Fans might think I am crazy, but it is actually a lot closer than many think.
Don’t get me wrong, Devin Booker, the pride and joy of every Suns’ fan, has been amazing this season. He has stepped into his new point guard role better than anyone could have expected and is having the best offensive season of his career. Booker’s only downside is that he has only played in a little more than half of the Suns’ games this season given he has dealt with various injuries.
In his 13 games played, Booker is averaging a career high 27.4 ppg, 8.1 assists, and 6.3 rebounds. Over in the east, Haliburton is also having the best season of his young career averaging 26.9 points, an incredible 12.1 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 18 games.
So, Booker has the slight upper hand when it comes to points and rebounds, but when factoring in assists, Haliburton is actually credited with more total offense per game than Booker. In fact, Haliburton currently has the highest offensive rating in the entirety of the NBA.
Haliburton really gains separation from Booker when considering efficiency. Booker is currently shooting 47.9 percent from the field, 43.6 percent from behind the arc, and an impressive 91.6 percent from the free throw line.
Haliburton is currently flirting with the ever-elusive 50/40/90 club sitting at 52.5 percent from the field, 44.1 percent from deep, and 88.4 percent from the line. So, this season, Haliburton is scoring more points on less attempts than booker.
Individual stats lean toward Haliburton on the season, but what impact do they each have on their team’s record?
Both teams are sitting at 12 wins. The Pacers have 8 losses while the Suns have 10. However, as I mentioned, Booker has missed quite a few games this season. In games where Booker has been able to suit up for the Suns, the team is 9-4 (69.2 win percentage).
The Indiana Pacers have a record of 11-7 when Haliburton plays this season (61.1 win percentage). So, Booker has the edge when it comes to team impact and wins.
Speaking of an edge, Devin Booker also has a bit of an advantage when it comes to defense. Booker is reported at 6’6” and Haliburton is 6’5”, but Booker weighs 206 pounds while Haliburton is 185.
Often underrated, Devin Booker is actually a very solid defender who can hold his own, including in the playoffs where the competition is the stiffest. This is a challenge we have yet to see Haliburton have to deal with.
Overall, both players are having impressive seasons. Just a year ago, no one would ever have thought to have this conversation, because Booker was just so much better. Now, Haliburton is really starting to shine. So, where would Haliburton be if he had as much time to grow as Booker has had?
That really is the hard part of this conversation. Devin Booker is in his 9th season of his career and every season has been with the Suns. He has made the playoffs multiple times, been an all-star multiple times, and even been named to the all-NBA team once. One thing to note is that he has gone through the challenge of 5 different coaches in his tenure with the Suns.
On the other hand, Haliburton is just in his fourth season, has played for two different teams (including a mid-season trade), played for multiple different head coaches, and hasn’t had any playoff experience as of yet. Given all of that, he still managed to make an all-star game last season.
So, is Haliburton better than Devin Booker? At the moment, I would say no - but it is close. Haliburton is young, and improving tremendously season-over-season. We could have the same conversation at the end of this season and Haliburton could have a slight edge over Booker. In fact, a win tonight against the Lakers could be a huge feather in the cap of the rising young Pacers' star.