Since Buddy Hield arrived in Sacramento in 2017, he has broken franchise record after franchise record and proven to be an essential part of the Kings’ core.
Acquiring Buddy was the undoubted end of an era, as Sacramento moved on from DeMarcus Cousins. And with Hield ready to make a name for himself outside of New Orleans, he proved to be the strongest rookie on the team despite the Kings having three other picks— remember Malachi Richardson, Skal Labissiere and Papagiannis?
But this past year was a great season for Hield. He was responsible for the Kings’ game-winner in their first contest of the season vs. the Denver Nuggets, where morale seemed high and effort was at an optimum level. Then, on March 31, he splashed his 1,000th career 3-pointer in his 350th game, passing Steph Curry as the fastest to ever reach this milestone.
Best-case: Buddy embraces a role off the bench and continues to produce at the high clip that he was shooting at last year.
With the young talent entering the Kings roster, there is long-term work to be figured out in Sacramento. I think to start, Walton will keep Hield in the starting lineup alongside Fox, Haliburton, Barnes and Holmes, but depending on the matchups night in and night out, I think Davion Mitchell will start to scoop some of those minutes.
Buddy has potential to be the next Sixth Man of the Year with the numbers he is working with, averaging 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists. I would love to see those number jump up a bit, and I think having him lead the offense off the bench would allow for him to flourish as a floor general.
Worst-case: Buddy’s demise seemed the start around Dave Joeger’s surprising exit in 2018 and, coincidentally, the arrival of Luke Walton. There were threats from Buddy to extend him or he’d walk, to take him off the bench or he’d walk, etc. Chemistry felt off with cryptic tweets and an expressed desire to leave the team, but in the 2020-21 season that vibe seemed to leave Hield, at least to the fan’s eye.
With the trade rumors floating around, it’s not secret that Buddy knows his time in Sacramento might be limited. My worst-case scenario for Buddy Hield is that we either: 1. lose him for nothing or 2. He feels less compelled to compete in knowing that a playoff contender might want him come the trade deadline in the winter.
Hield is a fan favorite and an essential part of the Kings’ offense, and I think any team losing the best 3-point shooter in the NBA would have cause for concern, but only time will tell where Buddy ends up. Whether he continues his career in Sactown or is dealt a different hand, I think Hield will continue to succeed in the coming season.