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30Q: Can Buddy Hield make the leap?

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If Buddy Hield is going to become a star, there are key improvements he needs to make.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

When discussing who will become the next star for the Sacramento Kings, one of the top candidates is Buddy Hield. Coming off a season where Buddy shot 43.1% from three on five attempts per game, it’s easy to get excited about what sort of offensive weapon Buddy could become. We’ve seen Buddy improve his handle, his defense, and his passing. We’ve seen how Hield went from a scrub in college to the 2016 collegiate player of the year. We know he’ll work and there’s plenty of reason for optimism. But what specifically does Buddy need to do to take that next step? The recipe is pretty simple: volume and drawing fouls.

Volume

Despite being one of the best shooters in the league, Buddy only averaged 11.7 shots per game last season. Some of that can be blamed on the style the Kings played last year. Only Zach Randolph averaged more shots per game at 12.9. The Kings need to focus on getting their best players more shots. Bogdan Bogdanovic averaged 9.9, De’Aaron Fox averaged 10.9, and Willie Cauley-Stein averaged 10.6. With the exception of Z-Bo, the Kings shot leaders are probably the guys you wanted to be taking shots last season, but the overall volume still needs to be higher. If the Kings increase their pace, this could help solve part of the volume problem.

But the other part falls on Buddy. He needs to aggressively look for his shot. Buddy increased his attempts every year in college, and that trend needs to continue in his NBA career.

Drawing Fouls

Buddy Hield attempted 81 free throws in 80 games last season. This is absurdly low. And considering Buddy shoots 87% from the charity stripe, not getting to the line limits how effective Buddy can be. If Buddy went to the line for 5 or 6 free throws per game and did nothing else different from last season, he goes from being a 13 point per game player to a 17 point per game player. It’s a huge, glaring issue in his game.

Buddy’s shooting is good enough to draw defenders in. That creates opportunities to drive past guys to create contact and draw fouls. That in turn creates space to allow Buddy to remain effective from outside. If Buddy can’t start drawing fouls at a better rate, there’s almost no chance for him to become a star.