Kings

Kings player profile: How Buddy Hield can build on breakout season

Kings player profile: How Buddy Hield can build on breakout season

What a difference a season makes. Buddy Hield wasn’t even scheduled to start for the Kings last season when training camp opened, but a late summer knee injury to Bogdan Bogdanovic opened a door.

Hield took strides in every category for the Kings, including scoring, 3-point shooting and as a leader behind the scenes. His latest venture to fund raise for his native Bahamas is just another step in the maturation of a young player as he becomes a veteran player.

Entering the final year of his rookie-scale contract, Hield has plenty to prove this season. He was tremendous for Sacramento last season, but he’ll need to do it again if he wants to maximize his next contract.

Hield will have every opportunity to lead the Kings in scoring for a second consecutive season, but with the team’s depth, he has to be more than just a scorer. 

Strengths

Hield is a tireless worker and one of the best 3-point shooters in the game. Not only can he hit from anywhere, but he’s managed to keep his long range percentage consistent despite a huge increase in volume. Through three seasons in the league, Hield has hit a remarkable 602 3-pointers, which is a league record and he’s a career 41.9 percent shooter from behind the arc.

In addition to shooting, Hield can score with the best of them. He led Sacramento at 20.7 points per game last season and he notched 20 or more points in 44 out of 82 games last season, including seven games over 30 points.

Hield loves to get out on the break and finishes at the rim at a 67.1 percent clip. He’s also a very solid mid-range shooter, knocking down 41.4 percent from 10-16 feet and 44.6 percent from 16 feet to the 3-point line.

A track star growing up, Hield finished fifth in the league in miles run per game at 2.67 and his 4.71 was tops amongst NBA regulars. 

Not just a flashy scorer, Hield averaged five rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. He’s improved greatly as a defender, especially outside the 3-point line where he held his opponents to -1.5 percent on the season, although he has plenty of room for growth.

Weaknesses

Hield posted consistent numbers all season long for Sacramento, but there is even more he can give as a scorer. As an elite shooter, Hield needs to be even more selfish at times. The Kings score 1.28 points per 3-point shot attempts from their starting shooting guard, which makes him a game changer.

From 3-10 feet, Hield shot just 24 percent on 121 attempts last year. Both of those numbers are bad news for Sacramento. Hield needs to work on a floater or just try harder to draw contact if he finds himself stuck in this range. The other option is to find a teammate or just realize that his is an area of weakness and avoid it.

Hield was a liability as a ball handler in his first season, but he’s worked to improve. There are times when he over dribbles, but that comes with being a scorer. With zero dribbles, Hield shoots 50.6 percent. When he puts the ball on the floor for 3-6 bounces, his percent dips to 40.4 percent.

There is always room to improve on the defensive side of the ball and Hield is no exception. He’s taken huge steps in his awareness, but he still struggles against elite guards. Opposing offenses have worked to isolate Hield as a defender, which will continue if he doesn’t make strides forward.

While Hield was strong defending outside the 3-point line and held his own outside of 15 feet, he needs to show improvement overall. Adding defensive pieces around him should help and he expends plenty of energy on the offensive end. 

During his second season, Hield averaged 1.5 steals per 36 minutes, but that number dropped to .8 last season. He needs to gamble a little more in the passing lanes and be more active on the defensive end overall.

Path to Improvement

While Hield improved in almost every facet of the game, he still has room to grow. He finished fifth in the NBA in 3-point field goal attempts with 651, but James Harden beat him by 377 attempts. He could average another one or two attempts per game, which would push his scoring average between 1.3 and 2.6 points per game.

Hield is a career 87.4 percent shooter from the free throw line. He improved his attempts from one a game to 2.4 from year two to year three, but he’s still leaving more on the board. There are times where Hield avoids contact, but he needs to learn from Lou Williams how to draw the foul on the 3-point attempt.

On the defensive end, Hield has to get better. If he wants to play 32-34 minutes, he’ll need to find a way to improve because De’Aaron Fox and Cory Joseph are both above average defenders and can steal minutes at the two, especially in late game situations.

Lasty, Hield isn’t usually asked to initiate the offense, but he has room to grow as a passer. He draws a lot of attention with his ability to score and that opens a lot of opportunities for his teammates as well. If he can develop further as a passer, especially in the pick-and-roll, it will equate to more wins for the team.

Projection

Hield is either walking into the season with a giant contract extension or trying to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke. He’s an outstanding shooter and Luke Walton’s offense is perfect for his game.

He can do more on the defensive end and as a passer, but Hield is a pure shooter with a motor that won’t quit. He has an opportunity to not only match his numbers from last season, but take another step forward in his progress.

The Kings are deeper this year and players are going to be fighting for shots. Hield will get his fair share as a No. 2 option with the starters, but with Fox, Marvin Bagley and Harrison Barnes in the starting lineup, there are a lot of mouths to feed.

[RELATED: Barnes, Team USA advance at World Cup]

An early prediction has Hield averaging around 21-22 points, five rebounds and three assists. He’ll shoot above 42 percent from long range and shoot close to 10 3-point attempts per game this season in Walton’s uptempo style.

He’ll score in bunches and be one of the main cogs in the Kings’ system. He’ll also get a nice payday for his services.

Kings launch 'In this Together' campaign to support active community

Kings launch 'In this Together' campaign to support active community

With the NBA season on hiatus, the Sacramento Kings are shifting gears as a franchise. On Monday morning, they announced a new initiative aimed at helping the community that has supported them for the last 35 years.

According to the team’s official press release, the “In this Together” program is a “new effort to engage and connect through online activations, health awareness, physical and educational activities, business support and more.”

The program has a four-pronged approach, which aligns with what the NBA is doing as a whole. Those four initiatives are Know the Facts, Acts of Caring, Expand Your Community and NBA Together Live.

Through their social media platforms, the team hopes to educate and promote information from the California public health officials, the American Red Cross Gold Country and Sacramento County. 

The team has also posted videos from owner Vivek Ranadivé, as well as players like Marvin Bagley and Bogdan Bogdanovic on staying healthy and active while under directives from the state and local governments to remain in your home. 

Under the acts of caring banner, the Kings have donated nearly 5,000 pounds of perishable foods to the Sacramento Food Bank and the Sacramento County Office of Education. They are also working with team partners like Xfinity to provide free educational resources and First 5 California to create coloring sheets and downloadable activities through Kings.com/Together.

The team plans to release at-home workout videos from Nike featuring Kings game night host Katerina Kountouris, as well as at-home basketball drills for kids featuring Doug Christie, Bobby Jackson and G League coach Ty Ellis. 

They are also going to launch a contest where fan-submitted videos will get Kings broadcaster Grant Napear’s famous “If you don’t like that, you don’t like Kings basketball!” call.

[RELATED: Sleep Train Arena could convert into COVID-19 hospital]

Partnered with NBC Sports Bay Area and California, the Kings will continue running classic games from the 2017-20 campaigns through April 15. The team is also encouraging fans to watch Pay It Forward LIVE, a digital concert series from Verizon that benefits small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The Kings plan on doing more in the community as their fans are isolated in their homes for the foreseeable future. You can find out more information by going to Kings.com/Together.
 

Five moments to remember from Kings' buzzer-beating win over Rockets

Five moments to remember from Kings' buzzer-beating win over Rockets

Programming note: Watch the re-air of the Kings’ victory over the Houston Rockets from Dec. 9, 2019 today at 3 p.m. PT on NBC Sports California.

The NBA has closed its doors indefinitely, but we have been able to dig into the archives and come away with some of the best games from the last few seasons for your viewing pleasure.

In our sixth installment, we go back to earlier this season, when the Kings went toe-to-toe with the Houston Rockets and came away with a huge game-winner from Nemanja Bjelica.

While we know the final outcome of the game, sometimes the details become murky over time. Here are five things to watch from the Kings’ 119-118 buzzer-beating win over the Rockets at the Toyota Center.

“F--k it, we deserved this win.”

Bjelica usually is quiet and stays away from the media when he’s given the choice. After drilling a 32-footer as time expired to give his team a huge win, Bjelica stopped by to speak with the Kings’ broadcasting team of Grant Napear and Doug Christie and he let loose with an F-bomb that has since been made into t-shirts.

The veteran stretch four has been very good for the Kings since signing as a free agent in the summer of 2018. He has hit plenty of long range 3-pointers, but none was bigger than the dagger against Houston.

“Game over. Game over.”

Star point guard Russell Westbrook put up 34 points and eight assists against the Kings in this game, including nine of the Rockets' final 12 points in regulation. With one second remaining on the clock, he put in a layup to give the Rockets a 118-116 lead and wouldn’t stop talking.

Westbrook's shot was huge, but Bjelica outdid him with the buzzer-beater. Sometimes it’s best to wait until the clock strikes zero before proclaiming victory.

Buddy Buckets

Where would the Kings be without Buddy Hield and his ability to knockdown the triple?

While Bjelica gets the fanfare in this one, Hield’s 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds remaining tied the game and gave the Kings a shot. 

Hield scored a team-high 26 points in this game, including 6-of-13 shooting from long range. In a hostile environment, he came up huge for Sacramento.

It’s raining 3s

Hield tied the game late with a 3-pointer and Bjelica hit the game-winner while wading in the Gulf of Mexico, but these shots were part of a larger trend in this game.

Sacramento went a stunning 20-for-45 from behind the arch, outscoring the high-powered Rockets 60-51 from deep. Only eight players stepped on the court for coach Luke Walton in this game and seven of them knocked down a 3-ball.

Back-to-back

The Kings got off to a rough start to the 2019-20 season, dropping their first five games. They bounced back, but came into this stretch in dire need of some wins.

[RELATED: Sleep Train Arena could be converted into COVID-19 hospital]

They dropped the first two games of the road trip in Portland and San Antonio, and then had to finish the trip with a back-to-back against the Dallas Mavericks and Rockets on Sunday and Monday.

Sacramento almost blew an eight-point lead in the final three minutes in Dallas, but held on for a 110-106 victory. With the win in Houston, the Kings returned home with a .500 trip and then beat the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center for their third win in four days against high-level teams.