clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NBA Draft 2016 Scouting Profile: Buddy Hield

In 20 years, this collegiate season will be remembered as "the Buddy Hield year". Do the Kings have any shot at snagging him at #8?

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Buddy Hield

NBA Position: SG

General Information: 22 year old senior, played at Oklahoma. From Freeport, Bahamas. Two-time Big 10 player of the Year, 2016 Sporting News Player of the Year, 2016 United States Basketball Writers Association

Measurables: 6'5", 215 pounds, 6'9.25" wingspan, 8'5" standing reach.

2014-15 Season Statistics: 28.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.3 SPG, .6 BPG, 3.5 TOPG (35.4 minutes per contest) -€” 50.1% FG, 88.0% FT, 45.7% 3P, 66.5% TSP

Summary: The consummate favorite selection around the Kings fandom for good reason; in 20 years, this collegiate season will be remembered as "the Buddy Hield year". The 22 year old is an amazing shooter and a great all-around scorer who knocked in 45.7% of his threes and had an insane 147 makes on the season. He's not a complete player outside of his shooting—he never showed great passing instincts, nor a consistent ability nor effort on defense, but he's made huge, visible improvements over the past four years so it's unlikely he'll accept just being an NBA shooter. Bet against him at your own risk.

Offensive Breakdown:

Hield has near picture-perfect NBA range; he's dynamo from mid-range, college-long-range, and NBA-long-range, and proved he could score off the dribble or on a catch-and-shoot. His shooting technique is lightning quick, and he rarely seems effected by defenders no matter how close they stick to him. His highlight reel is full of fadeaways, leaners, deep-pull ups, and circus shots.  The best part about Hield's range is his efficiency; his 147 made threes on the year is the third most in the NCAA in the past twenty years. Only Steph Curry and Akeem Richmond have more, and neither were that close to Buddy's 45.7% make rate.

While Hield has great potential as an NBA sniper, his impact as a scorer may not be immediate. His craftiness as a shooter was unrivaled in college, but he was much more predictable when he attacked the basket. He favored his step-back jumper too much—while his quick jab step/fadaway worked in college and should get him room on the perimeter in the NBA, I don't expect it'll have the same success when he's closer to the rim against NBA length.

The one major complaint against Hield I can shrug off is his turnovers; his decision making (3.0 turnovers a game, 14% turnover rate) hasn't been the best, but his role on the Sooners offense basically forces him to make tough decisions while the opposition's entire defensive scheme is built with him in mind. In the NBA, he won't be forced to carry such a big load, and even if he handles the ball as a second/third option, he's not going to have a 30% usage rate. Despite his sloppy control, he does have a wicked handle, and has a good number of moves that help him get separate from defenders.

The offensive question for Hield; how much of his non-shooting offense will transition? He's not a great distributor, and his assist numbers are near the bottom of the classes guards. While it's important to note Hield's role in Oklahoma's offense, his assist rate of 12.7% is far below what you'd like to see for a player with such a high usage rate. While I believe this will be a point of immediate development, figuring out Hield's role in an offense will take some time, especially as he adjusts from being the focal "do whatever you want at all times" role to a secondary/tertiary scoring role.

Defensive Breakdown:

Hield is an excellent scoring talent, but he's not a complete player; he doesn't have the same skills or instincts on defense, nor the consistent motivation. This latter can be somewhat explained by how much energy Hield had to expend to make Oklahoma's offense work, but his defense is the biggest immediate and long-term issue with his game. He has made strides in both his awareness and in his effort levels (even just over the past season), but he'll need significant coaching on technique. One criticism of Hield's game I don't understand is his "lack of size" -€” he's 6'5' in shoes and has a 6'9" wingspan, and was sufficiently buff enough in college. He may be a one-position defender, but once he fills in, I don't see his size being an issue against 90% of NBA two-guards.

On the glass, Hield managed a decent 13% defensive rebounding rate and 5.7 boards a game. He was able to outmuscle most NCAA guards, and was an above-average collegiate athlete, but he won't have those same advantages in the pros. Still, he's shown a willingness to battle for the glass, and he loved getting the ball so he could start the break quickly. This determination will translate to the pros, even if his size doesn't.


While Hield certainly deserves the hype he's been getting, I do think we need to reign in some of the expectations. While Hield's massive improvements over his collegiate career speak to a player who will never settle for what he is, what Hield is at this moment is a great NBA shooter with little more certain in his game. His assist numbers are way below average for a guard with his usage rate, his defense will likely be a bigger immediate weakness than lottery teams will like, and he wasn't fully successful at attacking the rim. However, none of his weaknesses are things he can't overcome, and shooting skills are a major need in the NBA, especially among the teams at the top of this year's draft.

By all accounts, Hield has a gym-rat approach to the game, worked hard with his teammates and coaches, and comes into the NBA red-flag free. He single-handedly turned a team that wouldn't have sniffed the NCAA tournament without him into a collegiate powerhouse. He has his weaknesses, but at the worst, I expect Hield will be an elite role-playing floor spacer who could become much more.

My favorite comparison for Hield is CJ McCollum -€” Hield doesn't have the passing instincts that McCollum had at LeHigh, but I expect Hield will be a McCollum level 20 PPG scorer in the NBA. The Steph Curry comparisons are absurd, although I will point out Curry averaged 3.7 turnover a game his junior year at Davidson at a 13.5% turnover rate, which is remarkably similar to Hield's numbers.

For anyone worried that Buddy will end up like a recent-shall-not-be-named Kings draft pick (who didn't have half the scoring instincts nor the sheer offensive willpower Heild possesses), I'll point to an excellent comment from an NBA scout. "One reason to believe that Buddy isn't just having a fluke senior season is that he's worked his ass off to develop a repeatable, ideal shooting form. It took him three years to get there, and I think what you see now will be what you'll get in the NBA: someone who can reliably hit 3s from the wings and corners and give you instant offense off the bench. He's also a relentlessly positive dude who has zero red flags in terms of character or work ethic."

If you need any more reason to trust that Buddy isn't a flash-in-the-pan, Omer did what Omer does and posted a great little comment.

Fit with Sacramento:

On the offensive side of the ball, Hield's value in Sacramento is obvious; the Kings need more shooting, and he's the best in the class. Neither Marco Belinelli nor Ben McLemore consistently stretched the defense, and Hield will be an immediate, respected weapon who even NBA veterans will be cautious with. If the Kings want to push for the playoffs, they need to be more of a threat from deep; despite having the NBA's 10th best 3P%, the Kings were 20th in three pointers made. Of the 16 playoff teams from this season, 11 of those teams were in the top half of three pointers made. (Key to point out, though, that neither the Thunder [16th] nor the Spurs [29th] were in the top half.)

Shooting aside, Dave Joerger would have to figure out Buddy's role in the offense. Buddy is used to controlling the ball, but he lacks the handling and the passing skills to play a secondardy ball-handler role at this point in his career. With DeMarcus (and presumably Rudy) controlling the ball, Hield might enter as a role-playing shooter who could struggle as he learns to play off the ball.

Hield's biggest weakness is his defense, and I believe it will be a rough transition. There's no reason why he can't become an adequate NBA defender in a few years, but he'll need strong coaching and constant motivation. Coach Joerger has been applauded for figuring out the best roles for his players and getting them to embrace these roles; he'd have a great opportunity with Hield, who can be much more than he is, even if he's already a legendary shooter.

In the end, Hield is unlikely to fall to Sacramento at No. 8. Hield's strengths are much-needed commodities in today's NBA, and nearly every team in the 3 to 7 range—Boston, Minnesota, New Orleans, and Denver—either desperately need or could really use a sharpshooter.

As always, check out the DraftExpress breakdowns;