This series is going to consider each player’s potential, draft position, efficiency, and even the roster around them. Tyrese Haliburton and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, although a mouthful to say in the same sentence, should be considered in the same tier.
Even so, taking into account differences in play style, these two point guards are incredible players in various ways.
Haliburton is your quintessential floor general, distributing the rock at an incredible rate, and can score from distance easily.
Shai is an athletic phenomenon with touch, court vision, and the ability to draw fouls and scoop boards. Personally, I love watching both of these players every time they take the court. If you have LeaguePass, watch them. They will have you wondering what you just witnessed.
Tyrese Haliburton vs. Shai Gilgeous Alexander
Points Edge: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
There is no doubt about it, Shai is the better overall scorer of the two. The focal point of the Oklahoma City Thunder offense, Gilgeous-Alexander can score at all three levels, and it shows on the stat sheet. There are a couple of questions to ask in regard to the overall production though. First, is the free throw rate sustainable? SGA jumped his free throw percentage and attempts by a large margin. Although the play style has shifted into drawing more fouls using SGA’s size and speed, it would be tough to replicate a 90% free throw rate after having a career (NBA and College) free throw percentage of less than 82%. Regardless, the 6’6″ OKC Point Guard has an edge over Haliburton.
Rebounds Edge: Slightly Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Tyrese Haliburton is by no means a bad guard rebounder. The disparity between the two on a per-game basis over the last two seasons is within two rebounds. Taking a deeper look into more of the advanced metrics, Haliburton’s overall rebound rate is not that much lower than Gilgeous-Alexanders. Not to mention, Haliburton had better rebounders at the forward and center positions last year than OKC. I would venture to guess that Tyrese increases his overall rebounds as an intelligent guard, namely longer shot rebounds (three-point rebounds, where the ball goes further out in the paint than normal two-point shots).
Assists Edge: Tyrese Haliburton
This is an obvious answer. Haliburton is already a prolific passer through his third season in the NBA and should be a sure-fire top-five assist man in the league. Make no mistake, Gilgeous-Alexander will not hurt any team with his overall assist rate, but that is not the reason to draft him over Haliburton if the roster being put together has a drastic need for assists. Expect Haliburton to continue his assist production, especially with increasing talent around him.
Stocks Edge: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Steals and blocks are usually the heaviest-weighted out of all the aforementioned statistical categories. These two players are within the upper tier for point guards in the combination of the two, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander definitely has the edge. Over the past three seasons, SGA has averaged over 1.5 stocks, and over 2 in two out of the last three. Do not be surprised if he continues to improve this rate, given his speed, athleticism, active hands, and intelligence. On the flip side, like assists with SGA, you would not be getting a slacker from Haliburton in these categories. Tyrese has accumulated similarly good steal rates to SGA, but lacks either the ability or athleticism to garner even half a block per game. That is truly the only difference between the two, which is important and can decide winning that week.
FG% Edge: Even
Field goal percentage can be controversial. Although Shai had an excellent season in 2022-2023, his overall average may be closer to 49% this year given his own historical context and incremental improvement. Conversely, Haliburton also retains some room for improvement, and given that they both have improved rosters, there is not much room for competition in this category. If there was a slight lean, it would be Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but expect the two of them to hover around the same production over the duration of the season.
3P%: Tyrese Haliburton
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will not finish his career as a below-average three-point shooter, but Haliburton is much, much better, and it is not particularly close. He’s a career 40% three-point shooter, and SGA is not.
Going back to the conversation on points, this is a tough call. Haliburton is an all-around better shooter, so it stands to bet on his ability at the line. There is a bit of nuance to this, though. Shai has gotten to the line more every single year and improved (albeit slowly) his percentage up until last season. This is the biggest gamble of the categories on who will come out on top this season, but if Free Throws are making the decision for your team, it is probably in a really good position. If the category was free throws made, this would be an easy lean to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Overall: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
I love both of these players, coming into the league. They are dynamic and fluid, both with the ability to score from all over the court and do things few guards can do. This is not so much a pick-em for this season: I think Shai is the correct pick 75% of the time given the chance. Haliburton will definitely not burn your fantasy team. His production and ability will showcase itself in what many assume to be a potential Pacers playoff push. (Say that three times fast) If a fantasy manager has the opportunity to pick one or the other, then they probably are doing so with a smile on their face and championship aspirations.
Got a beef with our consensus shooting guard rankings? Let the guys hear about it in the comments below! In the meantime check out all the great analysis in our 2023 Fantasy Basketball Draft Kit!