On March 23rd, in front of a roaring crowd at the Golden 1 Center, Buddy Hield snapped the nets from deep for the third time that evening to surpass Peja Stojakovic’s record of 240 long-balls made in a season by a Kings player. Hield’s unfaltering accuracy from the three-point line not only placed him in the annals of Sacramento lore, it has also pushed the young guard into the NBA record books as well. Buddy currently sits at 253 three-pointers, hitting an average of 3.4 per night, and with eight games remaining in the season, the Bahamian Baller is projected to land in the top-6 or top-7 of made three-point shots in a single season in league history, depending on how well Paul George finishes this season in Oklahoma City.
Hield’s incredible shooting has also set him up to tackle another NBA milestone: most made three-pointers through a player’s first three seasons. Damian Lillard presently holds first place with 599 makes from beyond the arc from 2013 to 2015, but Hield trails by just 22 buckets, and his current pace forecasts his total to just scooch by Lillard at 604 long-balls. Sinking the most three-pointers through a player’s first three seasons is impressive in its own right, but Buddy’s accomplishment increases in magnitude when considering the low number of attempts and minutes it took him to reach that mark.
In a side-by-side comparison of the two players’ shooting from deep, Lillard looks like a soldier fresh out of boot camp, holding his three-point trigger down on full-auto, machine-gunning his way to the record, while Hield resembles a cold sniper, shooting far less frequently with far better results. The Trail Blazers star point guard shot just 36.8% from beyond the arc over his first three seasons, the lowest percentage of any of the top-5 players in the category. Conversely, Hield has knocked down 42% of his attempts, not just an elite number for high-volume shooters, but elite for any player in the NBA. Unsurprisingly, that level of accuracy is the highest of anyone in that same group. To put those numbers in a different context, assuming that Buddy will maintain his average minutes and threes made per game, Hield will surpass Lillard’s record despite taking 192 fewer shots and playing 2,481 fewer minutes. He’s a machine from the outside.
Expanding that scope of historically great young shooters once again emphasizes the unreal shooting of Buddy Hield’s first three years as a professional. Of the 15 players with the most three-pointers made in their first three seasons, Buddy maintains his first place mark in three-point percentage, also places first in three-pointers made per minute, ranks second in effective field goal percentage, and has played the third-fewest minutes. He’s not only hit the most shots; he’s managed to do it with the highest level of efficiency:
Buddy Hield’s quick smile, gym rat nature, and clutch scoring has quickly made him a fan favorite in Sacramento over the past three years, but his on-court accomplishments still remain underrated, both within the local fan base and within the broader purview of the league. The third-year guard has not only shown growth in his ball-handling, defensive aptitude, and rebounding; he’s tackled those weaknesses while maintaining a historical level of shooting for a player of his experience. To say that Buddy Hield holds the potential to become one of the greatest three-point threats in Sacramento Kings history no longer suffices to capture his ceiling. Looping the rest of the league into that conversation is not just hopeful, it’s becoming essential.