Buddy Hield didn’t quite have the rookie season that many were expecting. 6th pick in the 2017 NBA draft, Hield joined the New Orleans Pelicans. With the departure of Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans battling injuries, the rookie guard was envisioned as a nice compliment to their inside presence of Anthony Davis. Out of Oklahoma, Buddy Hield was known as a scorer. He was an excellent outside shooter but could also put the ball on the floor and be effective in that aspect as well. This was exactly what the Pelicans needed. With all the reliability on Davis, the pressure relief of another scorer was exactly what the doctor ordered.
However, that didn’t quite take place. Buddy Hield struggled during his stint with the Pelicans. Shots didn’t fall and it seemed that he couldn’t quite catch rhythm. During his 57 games with New Orleans, he averaged 8.6 points shooting .393 from the field and .369 from behind the arc averaging 20.4 minutes per game. Not the Buddy Hield that we were accustomed to seeing.
Right after the All-Star game, there seemed to be a blessing in disguise for Hield as he was traded to the Sacramento Kings. Things came together for the rookie guard as he experienced life with a new team. The confidence was there and shots were falling. Hield benefiting from joining such a young team. There was no pressure to perform well or to win with a group of young guys just looking to learn and develop. While it was just a short sample size, during the remaining 25 games with the Kings, Buddy Hield averaged 15.1 points shooting .480 from the field and .428 from the three on 29.1 minutes per game. A drastic jump in numbers when you compare to how he played with the Pelicans.
Taking this all into account makes me believe that we will see an even better Buddy Hield in year two of his career. We often hear about the sophomore slump when it comes to players but I think we’re going to see the exact opposite. Hield got over being a rookie and became more comfortable as the season ended last year. And with the work ethic that we know he contains, the hunger to come back better is atop the to-do list for the young guard. With joining Sacramento, he got the opportunity to play more minutes as well as seeing a slight jump in usage from 20.3 to 23.2.
This upcoming season he’s going to have that same opportunity. More minutes, more usage, and more production. If he can build on where he left off last season then things can flourish for Buddy Hield going forward. We all know the talent is there but it’s all about capitalizing on the opportunity and becoming consistent at this level of the game.