From being traded by the New Orleans Pelicans as a rookie, to being a sixth man the next season, to leading the Kings in points per game as a starter in his third year, Buddy Hield has developed and risen every year in the NBA.
The Bahamian native has made himself known among Kings fans as a guy who never stops running, ranking 7th in the league in distance ran (feet) at 14090.4, but with his average speed of 4.71 ranks him at the top with Damion Lee of Golden State (mininum 20 games played).
Hield also demonstrated a great ability to rebound the ball, positioning himself as the fourth best rebounding guard per game. An average of 5.0 rebounds a game was a number only topped by three other guards, named DeMar DeRozan, Jeremy Lamb and Jimmy Butler (who I see as a guard/forward). Buddy relentlessly chased after all the 50/50 balls he could both on the defensive glass and offensive glass, as his 1.3 offensive rebounds per game was the second-highest total among shooting guards (behind Butler’s 1.9).
Earlier this season, I wrote about how Hield evolved his offensive arsenal by taking the ball to rim and finishing at a higher rate than previous years. But it’s Hield’s shooting that has always been his lynchpin, and that was especially highlighted this season when he set both franchise records (most threes in a season) and NBA records (7th all time and most threes through first three seasons).
Out of all qualified players, Hield finished the season with a three-point percentage of 42.7%, ranking 9th in the entire league, and he did so on eight attempts a game. From the eight players who shot higher percentages than Hield, only one player actually shot more attempts. That man is Stephen Curry, coincidentally the best shooter we have ever witnessed. Curry attempted 810 threes in total and 11.7 a game. None of the other players above Hield took more than 450 threes, as Danny Green took 435 and he finished second in the league at 45.5%. The next closest person to Hield’s 651 attempts is Klay Thompson, who took 599 and he ranked 22nd in the league at 40.2%. Yeah, Hield has marvelous efficiency from deep. It’s extremely difficult to meet Curry’s level of efficiency but it’s become a fact that Hield is one of the best shooters in the league.
In my earlier analysis of Hield, I included his shot chart up to that point of the season and here it is again:
Two months later to end the season, here is the finalized product:
Noticeably, Hield dropped efficiency (loses green and is closer to league average) from three spots: from the free throw line, left elbow, and right angled three.
However, his shots from the top of the key rose from a poor 31% to a much better 45%.
Not only did Hield show phenomenal efficiency from three point land, his overall shooting numbers soared as well. Hield took 16.6 shots a game this season compared to 11.7 last year and made 7.6 shots instead of 5.2. His two-point attempts per game came in at 8.6 and he made 4.2 of them, good for 48.7%!
Buddy shot 45.8% overall and his ability to create shots and get open led him to having some incredible games this season, including seven 30-point games. Hield’s average of 20.7 points per game led the team this season.
Here are some of Hield’s most memorable shots this season:
It doesn’t get much better than game-winning threes at the buzzer you didn’t think was going in, doesn’t it?
You just love to see Buddy posters! He gets out in transition and throws it down on Jeff Teague who was in a rough spot to block it.
De’Aaron Fox gets a ton of credit for putting this right into Hield’s shooting pocket and he does what he does best, hitting a three in stride while being fouled. The Kings would go on to win that game.
A putback with AUTHORITY.
Hield in transition to give the Kings a lead after trailing earlier. A Cardiac Kings moment at its finest, and Sacramento would eventually win the game as well.
Buddy’s 35th point, en route to a career-high 37. What makes the Kings fast-paced offense so dangerous is that Hield can just pull up for three with 20 seconds left on the shot clock and he you trust him to make it.
Franchise leader for most threes in a season! Here’s the shot that led to history. Comes off a screen from Kosta Koufos and drills it.
There’s so many more memorable buckets that Buddy made this season and it’s definitely a handful to pick from considering he played all 82 games this year (and he’s only missed two games at all in his entire career to date).
Hield arguably had an all-star caliber season and if his year-to-year growth is any indication of what is to come, we can surely expect the sharpshooter from the Bahamas to represent his country and team in the all-star game one day. If he has another leap like this year, that could be sooner rather than later.