One of the greatest successes of the Sacramento Kings’ rebuild has been the shooting brilliance of their two dynamo twos, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic. The pair have arguably been the Kings best two players over each of the last two years (Bogi in 2017-18, Hield in 2018-19), and they’re obvious compliments to the Kings best two foundational players, De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley, thanks to their mututal ability to warp the offensive gravity when off the ball. And while their exact usage and roles are somewhat up in the air under new Head Coach Luke Walton, there’s no question that Walton knows the level of shooters he’s got on the roster.
“Luke wants you to shoot more threes, how do you feel about that?”— Richard Ivanowski (@ivanowskinba) September 27, 2019
“You already know how I feel about that.” pic.twitter.com/HX4Jaza2xl
As we edge closer to tip off, there’s been an influx of speculation from experts, prognosticators, and undersized ungulates—should the Kings look to trade Buddy or Bogi?
No, they should not. There’s the boring, obvious caveat of “make any trade that improves the team,” but the Kings should keep this duo together through this year and into restricted free agency next summer. Having a starter-quality, high-motor player on the bench is a great thing for most great teams... why would that be different for Sacramento, especially considering who we’re talking about here?
Let’s take a look at three points with the Buddy/Bogi pairing; their shared position isn’t a problem, there should be plenty of minutes for both of them, and Sacramento should feel fine paying both players market value in free agency next summer.
Let’s handle the first point—should the Kings move forward with both players when they’re both best suited to play shooting guard? I think the answer is an obvious “sure!” given what the duo are capable of offensively in today’s modern game. There’s no real overlap in offensive roles when both are willing just to keep moving off-ball for better shots. Trading one of them over positional redundancy concerns feels overly KANGZy, and considering the rebuild is focused on a lightning-quick driving point guard and a face-up, iso driven big man scorer, Sacramento has as big a need for high-IQ floor spacers at the wing as any team in the NBA.
Certainly, Bogi and Buddy’s mutual fit defensively isn’t as sound as their fit offensively; both are average defenders, and there’s a clear size disadvantage to playing two guys who are 6’4 on the wings. But Coach Walton’s going to have to manage a full defensive reset anyways, and both players can be solid help defenders in a smart system—Bogi because of his basketball IQ, and Buddy because of his motor.
Secondly, are there enough minutes for both Buddy and Bogi? Absolutely, considering they’re two of your four best players. There will be guys who get time crunched on this suddenly deep Kings bench (my bet is Trevor Ariza), but it absolutely should not be either Hield or Bogi. Walton should build his lineups around his best players—if Sacramento can’t find 25 plus minutes a night for both Buddy and Bogi, that’s a coaching problem, and not a roster construction problem.
Bogdanović came off the bench for 53 of his 70 contests last year, never complained publicly about his role, and still ended with the 4th most minutes played (and 4th highest minutes per game mark). And if you think that Bogdan’s fantastic World Cup finish might earn him the starting job over Hield, we have no evidence that either King would balk at the idea at coming off the bench. Both of these players should be absolutely secure in their importance to the team, regardless of who starts. And while I’m a big proponent of Dewayne Dedmon and what he brings to this lineup, I’m hoping and betting the Kings closing lineup eventually becomes Hield and Bogi alongside De’Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes, and Marvin Bagley.
And finally, should the Kings keep Buddy and Bogi when they’re both free agents next summer? Next July’s free agecy is going to be an odd one, considering the lack of both talent and teams who have cap space, but it’s important to remember that both Hield and Bogdanovic will be restricted free agents and the Kings will be able to match any contract. Large paydays for both players would be limiting, but assistant GM Ken Catanella has done a underhealalded job of keeping the Kings books relatively flexible—only one absolute overpay on the roster (sorry, Cory Joseph)—and he’s certainly been planning for these and all upcoming extensions. There’s a timeline where Sacramento ends up overpaying Buddy, Bogi, or both, but again... we’re talking about two high-motor deep shooters. There will always be teams willing to trade for that talent combination.
Sacramento shouldn’t overthink this one. Buddy and Bogi are as primed as anyone on this roster to thrive in the new-era of Kings basketball. They aren’t overlapping talents, should get plenty of minutes reguardless of Sacramento’s depth, and offer versitility in the modern NBA that will always be valuable to smart teams.