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Why is Buddy Hield struggling?

Digging into the numbers to understand Buddy’s slump

Kimani Okearah

Buddy Hield is struggling. This isn’t up for debate. Buddy Hield acknowledges it. For the last four games, Buddy has shot very poorly.

The question isn’t whether Buddy has been bad, but why has he been bad? After Monday’s loss to the Houston Rockets, in which Buddy shot 3-12 overall and 1-8 from 3, Buddy spoke with the assembled media and offered his theory.

Unfortunately for Buddy, the numbers don’t support his theory (all numbers from Last season 29.6% of Buddy’s shots were catch-and-shoot threes. He shot 46% on them. This season 30.4% of his shots have been catch and shoot threes, but he’s shooting 38.4% on them. That’s an unfortunate dip in percentages, but not in opportunities.

Looking deeper into the tracking data we have available (which is by no means perfect, but gives us big picture information), what seems to have changed is a combination of factors. Last season 25.9% of Buddy’s shots were Wide Open 3s (defender 6+ feet away), and Buddy shot 49.1%. 17.5% were Open 3s (defender 4-6 feet away), and Buddy shot 37.4%. This season just 18.7% have been Wide Open, and 24.7% classified as open. Buddy has still hit 45.5% of his wide open threes, but is down to 31.6% on Open 3s. Simply put, unless he’s completely unguarded with all the time in the world, Buddy is missing.

The other factor that stands out is volume. Last season Buddy took 651 threes. This season he’s already taken 307, putting him on pace for 839 attempts. Buddy has been given the green light that we hoped for, but his shooting has fallen off.

The cause of Buddy’s slump isn’t a lack of catch-and-shoot opportunities. It isn’t a lack of open looks.

Buddy just isn’t hitting his shots.