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Tyrese Haliburton is set to be a Most Improved Player Award candidate in 2022-2023

The Indiana Pacers have made several moves in the past several months, the main transaction coming in February when they traded two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday, Jermey Lamb and a 2023 second-round draft pick for Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson. Even with Sabonis being an All-Star, the consensus was that the Pacers won the trade by acquiring Haliburton.

Just in the two years that Haliburton has been in the league, he’s proven that he can take command of an offense, while also being a reliable off-ball threat. It appears that Indiana has found their point guard of the future and he’s set to take another leap next year as Haliburton has +1800 odds to take home the Most Improved Player Award next season.

A Change of Scenery

After arguably being the steal of the 2022 NBA draft, it seemed improbable that the Sacramento Kings would trade the 12th overall pick in his second year with the team.

Prior to being traded, Halliburton averaged 14.3 points, 7.4 assists and 1.7 steals on 46% shooting in 51 games for the Kings last season. He was a great complement to Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox, which made it even more puzzling when they traded Halibuton.

After being dealt to the Pacers, Haliburton took his game to another level. In the 26 games that he appeared in, he averaged 17.5 points and 9.6 assists on 41% shooting from three and 50% overall. It is worth noting that the Pacers went 6-20 in those games, but they had to change their whole offense because they traded Sabonis who was the hub for almost everything they did.

It was a fairly small sample size, but Haliburton showcased every facet of his game that makes him one of the most exciting guards in the league.

The Year Ahead

With the Pacers moving on from guard Malcolm Brogdon, it should give Haliburton full autonomy of the offense, which then should propel him to the forefront of the Most Improved Player Award conversation. As of now, the three players with better odds than Haliburton are Anthony Edwards (+1200), RJ Barrett (+1400) and Jalen Brunson (+1600).

Edwards will surely have a strong case after his performance in the playoffs, but Barrett and Brunson may have a hard time garnering any serious consideration with the pair now being teammates on the New York Knicks.

Since Haliburton won’t be competing with any of his teammates for touches, it gives him the best opportunity to take the next jump. The Pacers have also done a good job surrounding him with shooters to complement his facilitating ability.

The one issue that Haliburton may have is winning. The Pacers seem to be in a bit of a rebuild mode and it looks like they are wanting to acquire more young assets. Winning hasn’t always mattered with the Most Improved Player debate, but there are voters out there that will take it into account.

Even with that in mind, Haliburton is in one of the best positions to win the award and if he does, he’ll become the sixth Pacers player of all-time to win the Most Improved Player Award.

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