November 6, 2017, 2:26 am
Buddy Hield came to Sacramento with high expectations. He was, and still is, the main attraction for the Kings in the trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans.
Hield did all the right things to begin his tenure with the team, averaging 15.1 points per game on 48 percent shooting from the field and a stellar 42.8 percent clip from three in 25 games last season.
These numbers were impressive given how poor he was in New Orleans shooting just 39.3 percent from the field.
What we saw from him at the end of last season was peak Buddy Hield. He was automatic from three, making tough pull-up jumpers from mid-range and cutting to the rim for easy baskets. You couldn’t really ask much more from a rookie.
The beginning of his sophomore campaign hasn’t exactly gone to plan. He’s shooting just 39.4 percent from the field (26.3 percent from three) and averaging 11.3 points in 23.7 minutes per game.
He started the first seven games for the Kings but has since been benched, a move that has actually helped him somewhat.
Playing in an offense that is overly structured won’t help a guy like Hield who needs to play in a balanced offensive system to succeed. Open looks are minimal, but when he does have open looks it’s almost as if he doesn’t know what to do.
Hield looks hesitant when pulling up from distance and he just hasn’t looked as sharp from mid-range. Because his defense isn’t great either, having him out there when offensive production is at a minimum is a detriment to the team; it’s why he’s playing just over 23 minutes a night.
With what we’ve seen from Hield so far, what’s his career ceiling look like? When he arrived in Sacramento the assumption was that he’d be the face of the franchise. This is still possible of course, but there are other scenarios that look more likely at this stage.
Hoop Ball Kings conducted a fan poll on Twitter and here are the results:
POLL: What's Buddy Hield's career ceiling? #Kings
— HoopBall Kings (@HoopBallKings) November 5, 2017
The consensus is, based on the small sample size we have, that Hield will turn out to be an effective sixth man. So far this notion seems convincing. As mentioned earlier, Hield has struggled this season as a starter but a recent move to the bench has seen a rise in productivity and efficiency.
Now, we’ve only seen two games of Hield off the bench this season, but so far so good. Will he remain off the bench moving forward? Or do the Kings envision him as a starter at some stage? They’ve certainly tried the latter and to this point have received mixed results.
Of the four options above, Hield realistically could end up being either one; which is scary to think about. He’s shown flashes that suggest he could average 20 points per game. Buddy is a great shooter who is developing as a reliable scoring option so achieving a goal like this is likely still some time down the road.
If he struggles to put all the tools together then he may end up another high draft pick turned role player in Sacramento. This would be devastating considering the value given up to acquire him, but it’s a possibility that must be considered.
There’s a chance Hield doesn’t pan out at all, he may fall completely off the radar and regress to a point where he’s sitting on the end of the bench each night. This scenario seems the most far-fetched of the possibilities listed so lets not get too carried away here.
The fans seem to agree as most have seen enough from Hield to suggest he’ll, at the very least, contribute off the bench.
A sixth man award is certainly in the realm of possibility for Buddy but it’ll depend on how he’s deployed by Joerger moving forward. Simplifying the offense could do wonders for Hield so hopefully the Kings find something that works for not only him but the team itself.
How he’s going to be deployed for the remainder of the season remains a mystery, maybe we’ll get some more insight into the Kings’ plans with him over the next couple of games. Buddy Hield has the potential to be a solid player in the NBA, but it’s more so the external factors surrounding him that’ll impact where his career goes from here.