Kings

Kings' Buddy Hield continues to show improvement in breakout season

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AP

Kings' Buddy Hield continues to show improvement in breakout season

The light bulb is going on. In his third NBA season, Buddy Hield is refining his ability to put up points and the Kings are reaping the benefits.

Hield came into the league as a pure scorer. It’s taken time for him to acclimate to the quickness and length of NBA players, but he’s rolling now and coach Dave Joerger is giving him the green light.

After averaging over 21 points per game in both December and January, Hield is finishing strong. He posted 24.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game in the month of February and the numbers continue to climb in March.

Although the sample size is small, Hield is averaging 24.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 36.2 minutes through three games in March.

Joerger has slowly increased Hield's minutes and it’s likely that he’ll play even more down the stretch as the Kings attempt to contend for a postseason berth.

There are two key areas where Hield has improved as a scorer. First, Hield is getting to the line and secondly, he continues to hoist 3-pointers at a record-breaking pace.

Last season, Hield shot 81 free throw attempts in 80 games. He had 43 games where he didn’t attempt a single free throw. For a player with elite scoring ability, that is completely unacceptable.

Hield showed improvement through the first four months of the season, but for a player averaging over 20 points per game, the numbers still weren't where they should be.

In the month of January, Hield averaged just 1.2 free throw attempts per game, but that number has jumped in both February and early March. Hield made it to the line for 4.5 attempts in February and he’s already attempted 25 free throws through three games in March.

Hield is 27-for-27 over his last four games for an average of a little less than seven attempts per game and he has a streak of 28 consecutive makes.

While Hield is getting to the rim and drawing fouls in the lane, he’s made the most strides on the perimeter. Over the Kings previous four games, Hield has been fouled shooting a 3-pointer five times.

Hield is looking for the foul. He’s getting his defender out of position and making sure the officials see the contact. In previous seasons, Hield has shied away from contact in these situations, but not anymore.

The former Oklahoma Sooner star can continue to improve in this area. He’s pushed his season average to 2.5 free throws per game, where he’s shooting an outstanding 87.6 percent.

In addition to getting to the line, Hield has become a juggernaut from behind the arc.

He has increased his volume of 3-pointers from 5.1 attempts last year to 7.6 this season, he has also improved his percentage from 43.1 percent to 44.2 percent.

Hield is now on pace to hit nearly 277 3-pointers this season. If he continues at his current clip,  he still has a shot at surpassing Damian Lillard’s NBA record of 599 made 3-pointers through the first three years of his career.

[RELATED: Here's how the Kings still have path to the NBA playoffs]

At 216 3-point makes this season, Hield is just 24 away from the Kings’ franchise record of 240, set by Peja Stojakovic during the 2003-04 season.

Coming into the season, there were questions as to whether Hield had hit his ceiling. Through 64 games, Sacramento’s starting shooting guard has not only crushed expectations; he continues to improve in crucial areas and the numbers suggest there is still room for improvement.

Kings vs. Melbourne United live stream: How to watch NBA preseason game

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USATSI

Kings vs. Melbourne United live stream: How to watch NBA preseason game

The Sacramento Kings opened their preseason slate internationally with two games in India, and in a sense, they will close the preseason with an international flavor. 

Sacramento will host Melbourne United of the National Basketball League on Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. 

But the Kings will be without key players in point guard De'Aaron Fox and big man Harry Giles, among others. Here is the Kings' full injury report. 

Two Kings vying for a big payday will be on the court, though. Both Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic will try to prove they're worth large contract extensions before the Oct. 21 deadline. 

[RELATED: Report: Hield, Kings $20M apart in contract extension talks]

Here's how you can watch the Kings play Melbourne United in their final preseason game, exclusively on the MyTeams app.

When: Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m. 
Live Stream: MyTeams app

NBA rumors: Buddy Hield, Kings $20M apart in contract extension talks

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USATSI

NBA rumors: Buddy Hield, Kings $20M apart in contract extension talks

The Kings and shooting guard Buddy Hield reportedly aren't seeing eye-to-eye right now.

Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported Wednesday that Hield and the Kings are $20 million apart in talks of a contract extension. According to Haynes, the Kings have made a substantial four-year, $90 million contract extension offer to Hield. But Sacramento’s sharpshooter reportedly is looking for something closer to a four-year, $110 million extension from the team.

The reported divide between the two sides is large, although not insurmountable. If the figures are correct, Sacramento basically is offering $5 million per year less than what Hield is asking for. There might be room for some common ground in between these two figures.

The two sides have until Oct. 21 to come to an agreement on an extension. If they don’t, Hield will enter next summer as a restricted free agent, if the team extends a $6.5 million qualifying offer.

Once the qualifying offer is extended, the Kings would have the right to match any offer for the 26-year-old guard.

In his third NBA season, Hield led the Kings in scoring at 20.7 points per game. He also established a new NBA record for most 3-pointers through three seasons, hitting a team-record 278 triples last season to push his career total to 602.

Hield is the first of four members of the team's young core to come up for extension over the next 24 months. Bogdan Bogdanovic is eligible for a four-year, $51.7 million extension, but he has until June 30 to either accept the deal or head into the summer as a restricted free agent.

De’Aaron Fox also becomes eligible for an extension next summer, and the Kings face the same fate with Marvin Bagley in the summer of 2021.

Fox was clear last week that he would love to see the Kings keep Hield and the rest of the team's young players together. Hield also has made it known he would like to stay in Sacramento.

Kings general manager Vlade Divac and his staff have done a quality job of keeping salary cap flexibility over the last few seasons with an eye on this moment. The only contract they have that is guaranteed beyond 2021 is forward Harrison Barnes, who the team inked to a new four-year, $85 million declining value deal in July.

Hield and the Kings have five days to work something out. If not, they have to table the discussion until after the season.