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Buddy Hield Has Arrived

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

The 26 year-old averaged 20.7 PPG in 2018-19, and seems to be coming into his own as a top-tier NBA sharpshooter

On Feburary 20, 2017 the Sacramento Kings dealt their franchise centerpiece DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans.

After years of drama and speculation, the Kings finally pulled the trigger on trading the incredibly gifted –and incredibly animated– big man, who many around the league viewed as the best center in the league. It seemed as if the entire city of Sacramento let out one big collective groan once they saw the reported return: a 2017 first round pick, a 2017 second round pick, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and the recently-drafted sixth overall pick — Buddy Hield.

Hield struggled to get comfortable in New Orleans, only scoring 8.6 points per game on 39% shooting from the field (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Hield, a first-team consensus All-American and 2016 Naismith College Player of The Year recipient, arrived in Sacramento after struggling to find his way in New Orleans. Through his first 57 games, the rookie was shooting an abysmal 39-percent from the field and a lackluster 36-percent from beyond the three-point line. Playing only 20 minutes per game, the first-year guard wasn’t living up to the hype that his college play had generated. Coming off of his senior season as an Oklahoma Sooner, Hield led the NCAA in scoring with 25 points per game and also led the league in three-point field goals.

Seeing that Hield was the “big piece” coming back to the Kings in the blockbuster deal, the consensus around the league was that Sacramento was fleeced in the trade — and that General Manager Vlade Divac shouldn’t be employed by an NBA franchise.

The Uprising

Things have changed a lot since February 20, 2017.

After being acquired from New Orleans, Buddy Hield has turned into the player everyone thought he was going to be after being drafted sixth-overall out of Oklahoma. From his first game in Sacramento, Hield has shot the basketball at a highly effective clip. In 2016-17, Buddy improved his field goal percentage from 39-percent to 48-percent while also improving his three-point shooting percentage from 36-percent to 42-percent.

Averaging only 8.6 points per game in New Orleans, Hield nearly doubled his average as he upped his scoring to 15.1 points per game with the Kings to finish the season.

In 2017-18, “Buddy Buckets” shot 43-percent from beyond three-point land, which ranked ninth in all of the NBA. His 176 made three-pointers ranked 20th in all of the league as Hield firmly established himself as a legitimate three-point threat in his sophomore season. Upping his scoring average from 10.6 to 13.5, the second-year guard thrived in his first full season in Sacramento. Spending most of the season backing up starting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, the sharp-shooter only started in 12 games during the 2017-18 season, something that would change considerably in 2018-19.

During the summer of 2018, incumbent starting shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic has surgery to repair his damaged meniscus in his left knee. As a result, Bogdanovic would be out of action until mid-November as he nursed his way back to full health.

Hield was tapped to start at shooting guard to open up the season for Sacramento, and once he got his chance he never looked back.

Arrival

In his third NBA season, Chavano Rainer Hield arrived.

Over 82 games and 82 starts, Buddy Hield averaged 20.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, solidifying his spot as the Sacramento Kings starting shooting guard.

The 2018-19 season was historic in many ways for the third-year guard. For starters, Hield was selected to the Rising Stars Game for the second year in a row while also being selected as a participant in the NBA All-Star Weekend Three-Point Contest. The recognition was well deserved for the Kings guard, who broke Peja Stojakovic’s franchise record of 240 made three-pointers in a single season.

Hield hit 270 long-balls in 2018-19, the seventh most three’s made in a single season in NBA history.

The 26 year-old scored 30 points or more seven times in 2018-19, including 35 points in a game against the Detroit Pistons that saw him score 15 points over the last 3:26 of regulation. Capped off by an incredible off balance, one-legged buzzer beater, Hield single-handedly erased a seven-point deficit and propelled the Kings to an improbable victory.

Rebounding is another aspect of Buddy’s game that improved in 2018-19, as Hield ranked fourth on the team in rebounds per game with 5.0 per contest. Put-back dunks and tip-ins are Hield’s secret weapon, as you will always see him crashing the boards. Hield grabbed at least seven rebounds in 20 games last season, proving that he is very active in all aspects while on offense.

A New Era In Sacramento

With Buddy Hield on the perimeter, De’Aaron Fox running the point and Marvin Bagley III down low, the Sacramento Kings are primed for a bright future.

Coming off of 39 wins in 2018-19, the Kings are looking to compete for a playoff spot in the loaded Western Conference. With new additions Trevor Ariza, Dewayne Dedmon, Cory Joseph and Richaun Holmes on board, the Kings have the pieces to make a legitimate run for a postseason berth. In today’s NBA, three-point shooting is an integral factor in becoming a successful team. As a matter of fact, most legitimate teams have at least one sharpshooter staffed on their roster.

The Warriors have Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. The Clippers have Paul George. The Celtics have Kemba Walker. The Rockets have James Harden.

The Sacramento Kings have Buddy Hield.