His nickname is Buddy Love but on draft day three years ago Buddy Hield was the subject of unfair scrutiny. A college shooter whose game won’t travel. Or, zero defensive skills. Or, great floor spacer. Or, a system shooter. A possible All-Star was what many assumed before that theory was shot down by an analytics geek. It was as if no one could pinpoint the Bahamian into one box and agree. Buddy didn’t seem to be fazed.
He knew he had to do two things: prove who he was to himself, and prove who he was to someone else. The situation in NOLA seemed perfect. The Pelicans were desperate for outside shooting to compliment Anthony Davis inside game. Hield would get tons of open shots.
Buddy Hield was drafted after Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Jaylen Brown, Dragan Bender and Kris Dunn. He’s been a better pro than Bender and Dunn but isn’t as versatile or talented as Simmons,Ingram or Brown.
Traded during his rookie year so the Pelicans could acquire DeMarcus Cousins, Hield has been money for the Kings. His only blemish was not getting along with Dave Joerger who has since been fired. And his defense. But last season, Hield played all 82. The year before he played 80 games. Since joining the Kings, he has shot 40% or better from three. 42% after the trade. 43% two seasons ago. 42% last year.
Last season, Buddy Hield was a 20 ppg scorer on 16 shots. His mid-range is iffy. The farther out he is, the more efficient his shot. In the 4th his 3-ball doesn’t lose any oxygen. He and De’Aaron Fox are a nice inside/outside combo that are offensively lethal in games. The athletic Fox can get to the rim anytime he wants and is a good finisher and Hield is an option on the perimeter for the drive and kick. It makes the Kings a team that is on the come-up. New coach Luke Walton is a good fit for young players and should ramp up the Fox/Hield combo for the better.
Buddy Hield is eligible for a rookie extension and the Kings have showed signs that they want Buddy in the system for a very long time. If the extension isn’t done by October 21st, Buddy will be a restricted free agent in 2020. The Kings can match any offer, if they so choose but the free agent class in 2020 is weak. Buddy may be better off not signing the extension. The summer of 2020 will be a big money grab for the very good in the absence of free agent superstars.
GM Vlade Divac told the Sacramento Bee “We’re working on it and we’ll figure out something. Buddy is a very important piece of the franchise.”
The extension Buddy is eligible for, at its max, is $158 million over five years. The problem the Kings are facing is that they have a young team with a lot of extensions coming. Who to pay and how much? Bogdan Bogdanovic is also eligible for an extension. In two years, De’Aaron Fox and Harry Giles III. The following year, Marvin Bagley III.
Because the Kings overpaid Harrison Barnes over the summer, they are facing a financial balancing act. But if any of the young players deserve a payday it is Hield who set a record, 600 threes in the first three years of his career.
Over the summer, Buddy Love was in full force in his native Bahamas as they dealt with a devastating hurricane. Hield started a GoFundMe and raised close to $200,000 and the Kings donated $100,000. The Buddy Hield Foundation is intent on raising more money to help Grand Bahama Island where Hield grew up.
Hield was at Oklahoma for 4 years. This is his 4th NBA year. Hield has delivered as a lottery pick. He can shoot over NBA defenses. He can score the ball for 82 games. Improving his defense and the playoffs are his next challenge. And if he was dreaming, a perfect world would be to break the Sac Kings curse- no playoffs since 2006.