April 27, 2018, 6:34 pm
2017-18 averages: 80 G | 12 GS | 25.3 MP | 13.5 PTS | 3.8 REB | 1.9 AST | 1.1 STL | 0.3 BLK | 1.6 TOV | 44.6 FG% | 43.1 3P% | 87.7 FT% |
Coming into his second season Buddy Hield was a focal point of the Kings’ lineup — and for good reason since he was one of the main pieces the Kings got in return for DeMarcus Cousins.
Hield would somewhat falter in the early part of the season, though, especially as a starter. In 12 games as part of the starting five, Hield averaged just 12.8 points in 26.2 minutes per game. His scoring wasn’t so much the issue opposed to his shooting percentage. The 24-year-old shot just 39.1 percent in those games and knocked down just 35.4 percent of his 3-point attempts. His offensive rating as a starter was a minuscule 94, while that ballooned as a reserve was a respectably solid 105.
October, which was the only month when Hield started the bulk of the team’s game, was all the evidence the team needed to move Hield to the bench. He finished the month with what would be season low averages in scoring, offensive rating, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and true shooting percentage.
Once Hield made the shift from starter to reserve, he flourished. Hield shot 45 percent from the field or better in just two of his first seven starts. In his first three games coming off the bench he shot 61.2 percent.
It was obvious that Hield was able to take advantage of going up against team’s reserves and he became the most important part of Sacramento’s second unit. This was evident in Hield’s usage, where he had the team’s second highest usage percentage on the team — behind only Zach Randolph.
Hield’s position as the team’s sixth man became more prominent as the season continued and his ability to put up consistent numbers off the bench was something the Kings not only enjoyed but relied on. The team’s bench, with Hield leading the charge, outscored the starters on a number of occasions down the stretch of the season.
Hield’s confidence was exemplary as the season went on and he showed an ability to not only shoot good shots, but to effectively use down screens on a regular basis – as shown here against the Celtics:
He also showed an an ability to create his own shot:
Although only 6.3 percent of his shots were after seven or more dribbles, the Bahamian knocked down 49.1 percent of his attempts when that occurred. Hield’s highest shot selection percentage (34.7 percent), of course, came on catch and shoot situations (0 dribbles) where he made 53.0 percent of his attempts.
Hield’s ability to knock down 3-pointers off of screens and without dribbling was also as impressive. He made 50.2 percent of his attempts without even dribbling the ball.
The offense and confidence from Hield was something the team needed to see, but his development hardly started there.
Although the team didn’t play good defense for much of the season, Hield had one of the top defensive ratings on the team (a modest 111 DRTG) and tied for the team lead in steals per game at 1.1 with Willie Cauley-Stein.
Hield’s ability to become a pest on defense was shown by the amount of careless turnovers he forced as he applied full-court pressure sporadically or challenged for a lazy inbounds pass.
He showed that he not only paid attention to his opponent’s every move, but he was also able to take advantage of their poor decisions.
Here’s Hield in a bubble :
As if the offense from the sixth man slot and defensive ability wasn’t enough, Hield also showed that he could pass the ball. In the final two months of the season, Hield almost doubled his average of assists from the months prior. From October to February, Hield averaged 1.6 assists per game and in March and April, he boosted that up to to 2.9 per game.
One of the only faults Hield may have had this year was his lack of getting to the basket. He sometimes settled for shots that could have been easier and didn’t really get to the free throw line; he averaged just 1.0 free throws per game.
When the Kings traded for Hield, it was more than likely they envisioned him being a starting two guard, but with his ability to effortlessly score off the bench, the team had no choice but to utilize him against second string squads.
A Sixth Man of the Year award isn’t far fetched for Hield down the road. If the Kings use him correctly and play him consistent minutes, he’s proven to give good results off the bench and that’s all the team should ask for from him at this point.
April 23, 2019, 1:30 amChris Paul - G - Houston Rockets
Chris Paul had a great Game 4 in Monday's 91-107 loss to the Jazz with 23 points on 8-of-19 shooting with eight rebounds, seven assists, five steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers.
Paul had a nice breakaway dunk late in the fourth, showing that he's still got the hops and his defense throughout tonight was also solid. He brought back some of his vintage layup package, but the Rockets as a whole went cold from deep late in the game and couldn't stop Donovan Mitchell's barrage in the fourth quarter.
April 23, 2019, 1:30 amJae Crowder - F - Utah Jazz
Jae Crowder finally had a strong night offensively in Monday's Game 4 with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go with four rebounds, an assist, two steals and three 3-pointers.
Crowder had 18 first half points which would have been the most he's scored in any game this series. He was on fire to start the first period and his energy levels were much higher tonight. The Jazz finally got a strong game out of Crowder on both ends of the floor and he'll have to keep nailing shots for the Jazz to drag out this series.
April 23, 2019, 1:29 amRudy Gobert - C - Utah Jazz
Rudy Gobert logged 24 foul-plagued minutes in Monday's Game 4 and scored four points on 2-of-4 shooting with nine rebounds, two assists, a steal and three blocks.
Gobert was a net-positive whenever he was on the floor tonight and he's getting better at keeping up with Houston's guards on the perimeter. He's blocked several of James Harden's floaters over the past two games and has dominated the paint when he plays, but was limited due to fouls tonight. Derrick Favors (24 minutes, 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting with 11 rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block) more than carried his weight tonight as he kept the Rockets at bay with his suffocating defense inside the paint in the final period of action.
April 23, 2019, 1:24 amClint Capela - C - Houston Rockets
Clint Capela struggled in Monday's Game 4, scoring four points on 1-of-6 shooting with seven rebounds and two assists in 28 minutes.
Capela went 2-for-6 at the line and he was severely limited in tonight's game as he struggled with Utah's physicality. The normal lobs he received from James Harden were much more difficult to control tonight and he had trouble finishing around the rim. We expect him to be much better in the next game.
April 23, 2019, 1:24 amDonovan Mitchell - G - Utah Jazz
Donovan Mitchell carried the Jazz in their 107-91 win over the Rockets in Game 4 on Monday with 31 points on 11-of-26 shooting to go with seven rebounds, four assists, a steal and three 3-pointers.
Mitchell finally got some help from his teammates tonight as they helped carry the team's offensive burden throughout the first three periods. In the final quarter, Mitchell scored the Jazz's first 13 points and ended up with 19 fourth quarter points. He had a dazzling spin move, some deep triples and a freakishly athletic alley-oop dunk all in the span of 12 minutes and has kept the Jazz season alive for at least another game due to his heroic efforts. Although the team as a whole has struggled offensively, Mitchell showed his superstar potential tonight.
April 23, 2019, 1:17 amRicky Rubio - G - Utah Jazz
Ricky Rubio scored 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting while adding 11 assists, three rebounds, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer in Game 4 on Monday.
Rubio played much better defense on Houston's guards tonight but was still unable to stretch the floor with his shooting as he went 1-for-7 from deep. If he can make incremental improvements on his defensive assignment while hitting a couple more triples, the Jazz have a good shot at extending this series.
April 23, 2019, 1:15 amJames Harden - G - Houston Rockets
James Harden scored 30 points on 8-of-19 shooting with three rebounds, four assists, two steals and six 3-pointers in Game 4 on Monday.
Harden is facing one of the toughest defenses in the league so the shots he makes are difficult. The step-back 3s were on full display tonight, but Harden had difficulty penetrating the Jazz defense whenever Rudy Gobert was manning the paint. Although his shooting percentages were high, he committed eight turnovers as the mid-range territory is one of the hardest to navigate. Gobert is predicting his floaters and Clint Capela couldn't grab and finish the usual lob passes which hampered Harden's success tonight. He's slowly figuring out the Jazz defense and if Capela can return to form we can expect his assist numbers to spike.
April 23, 2019, 1:12 amEric Gordon - G - Houston Rockets
Eric Gordon scored 16 points on 5-of-12 shooting with five 3-pointers, a rebound, an assist and a block in Monday's Game 4.
Gordon started off hot and did all the stuff the Rockets expected him to do, but late in the game he was unable to hit timely shots for Houston. He'll get another crack at some open looks due to Utah's defensive scheme.
April 23, 2019, 12:21 amBlake Griffin - F - Detroit Pistons
Blake Griffin may have limped through 28 minutes in Monday night's 127-104 Game 4 loss to the Bucks, but he put up 22 points, five rebounds, six assists and four threes.
Griffin helped keep the Pistons' season alive for almost three quarters on a bad knee before fouling out in the fourth to a standing ovation. He was at significantly less than 100 percent during this series, but it was good to see him lay it all out there as a last-gasp effort for his team. Griffin had a great fantasy season and there should be more of the same as the 30-year-old hopefully returns healthy in 2019-20.
April 23, 2019, 12:10 amReggie Jackson - G - Detroit Pistons
Reggie Jackson scored a team-high 26 points (9-of-20 FGs, 5-of-9 threes, 3-of-3 FTs) with seven dimes, three boards and a steal in Monday's Game 4 loss to the Bucks.
Jackson looked great tonight while keeping the Pistons in front for the majority of the game. However, the Bucks went on a big run in the third and fourth quarters to complete the sweep. Jackson, at age 29, doesn't have a whole lot of upside left, but he's certainly capable of putting together games like this once or twice a month to swing a head-to-head matchup.