Coming into the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday night, Buddy Hield knew he had to be aggressive offensively. The Kings were without the services of Iman Shumpert, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Marvin Bagley.
Even though the short-handed Kings fell 132-113 to the surging Thunder, Hield finished with a career-high 37 points to go along with 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.
The 26-year-old (yes, 26, not 25) Hield spoke to Sactown Royalty about being without three key guys in the rotation, striving to make the playoffs and more.
How much does it impact the team not having those three guys?
A lot. You could see it – Bogi’s playmaking ability, Marvin’s rebounding ability and scoring down low, and Shump just being a leader, talking and being a voice out there. When things are going bad he’s always there to pick us up ... his voice goes a long way on our team and that presence is good for us.
Speaking of Iman, he seems like the glue guy of the team.
He is. He’s one of those guys, he’s been through it, he’s seen it. He might not have been the glue guy on his team, but on this team, he’s a glue guy and he’s using his experience and it’s trickled down from the oldest to the youngest [guys] on the team. So, he’s doing a good job.
Do you think he filled that void a little when Garrett Temple left?
Yeah, they’re different, but he’s just more of a personality.
How do you feel like this team does after losses? Do you guys just put it behind you?
Yeah, we’ve got to flush this one down. I think we might have Bogi [Bogdanovic] back next game and we’ve just to guard better and play together, and just have fun. We’ll get it back – that’s a good team, good defensive team. They’re very long and lengthy.
You are leading the league in three-point percentage among all shooting guards, did you know that? (He is tied with Kyle Korver for first among all qualified shooting guards for three-point percentage at 43 percent, and he has taken 113 more threes than Korver. He is second among all qualified shooting guards in field goal percentage at 47 percent.)
No, I didn’t know that. That’s pretty decent, it’s OK.
We’re 31 games in to the season now, what are your goals individually for the rest of the season?
I’m trying to get into the playoffs ... trying to be an All-Star before my career is over with. Just show everybody I can play in the league and I can compete with the best two guards in the league, and they have got to honor me and they have got to respect me just as much as I try to go out there and guard them and respect them.
With the way you guys are getting open threes, is that mainly about the pace you are playing with?
It’s the pace, of course. If you walk the ball up you’re not going to get shots you want to get. But if you push the ball up and you have a point guard like [De’Aaron] Fox pushing the ball, it puts them at a disadvantage. He’s faster than everybody on the court so he can get to the rim and turn it on and off at the blink of an eye .... I’m just running hard and trying to fill the lanes and do what I can do best for him.
How much has [Nemanja] Bjelica helped with opening the lanes up?
He stretches the floor and you have to honor it. He might not get a much threes up as me, but he stretches the floor and if you leave him open he’s a guy that can make you pay and hurt you really bad.
Coach talked about how the team is giving up a lot of points defensively, what do you guys need to do to correct that? I know you are running up and down a lot so maybe it is difficult to always focus on defense, but what you think needs to happen to cut down on teams scoring so much?
Just have to guard better and compete on defense. It’s tough when you are going up and down, but you try to limit as much as you can.
Has this season lived up to your expectations so far?
Nah, I’m always never satisfied.
Do you think this whole unit is pretty confident you can get to the playoffs this season?
Everybody is confident, I know we can get into the playoffs. We’re just down a couple of bodies. You see when we are at full effect, you see what we can do.