The Sacramento Kings were riding high on a three-game winning streak going into Friday night and even with a heartbreaking loss to the Charlotte Hornets, they’re are a solid 5-4 since Alvin Gentry took over for Luke Walton. The three-game winning streak coincided with a pretty notable rotational change that Gentry made: elevating the minutes of Terence Davis and decreasing the minutes of Buddy Hield.
It’s pretty easy to see this is as a one-for-one switch that Gentry decided to make. Both Davis and Hield are streaky, shoot-first guys that put up a lot of ambitious shot attempts. Although both are below average defensively, Davis is closer to average than Hield is and is a significantly better ball handler. Shooting-wise, Hield has a longer track record of success, but Davis at his best can look like an all-world shooter.
As recently as two weeks ago, Davis caught three consecutive DNP-CDs in Sacramento’s games against the Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers, and Portland Trail Blazers. The DNPs were well deserved because for about the first 20 or so games this season Davis couldn’t throw in the ocean and was generally a net negative every time he stepped on the court.
In the first game of the Kings’ winning streak against the Clippers in Los Angeles, Davis finally seemed to find his rhythm, scoring 23 points and making five of his nine three-point attempts in that contest. In the two games since, Davis has continued to be productive.
Hield on the other hand has been pretty abysmal for the better part of a month at this point and his shooting splits this season look pretty ugly after a solid start to the year. It seems like Alvin Gentry doesn’t give Hield quite the free reign to shoot that Luke Walton did and he’s till adjusting to his role while also potentially getting moved at some point this season.
In the Kings’ win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, Hield was really the only guy for the Kings to play who didn’t have a good game. Hield shot just two of 13, and just one of ten from three, a lot of which were open attempts that he bricked.
A lot of my thought around the Davis acquisition and subsequent resigning of him was that he could approximate the Buddy Hield, bench scorer role for a fraction of the price, once Hield gets moved. Hield still hasn’t gotten moved, but Davis is now showing signs of being that microwave bench scorer.
For someone as historically streaky as Davis, I’d like to see a few more games of him performing this well before fulling believing. If he does continue to play like this it’s a major bonus for the Kings, and makes Buddy Hield all the more expendable.