Kings

Kings season in review: Breaking down Buddy Hield's stellar third year

Kings season in review: Breaking down Buddy Hield's stellar third year

The Kings came into the 2018-19 season with question marks all over the court. They came out of it with a defined starting backcourt of De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, and plenty more to build around.

After sputtering in his second NBA season, Hield stepped into the starting lineup after a late summer injury to Bogdan Bogdanovic. The Bahamian-born shooting guard took advantage of the opportunity and cemented himself as one of the team’s budding young core.

Hield led Sacramento in scoring on the season and set a new franchise record for made 3-pointers. He hit big-money shots and almost single handedly won multiple games for the Kings with his ability to score in bunches.

Offense

Stats: 20.7 points, 2.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds, .7 steals, 45.6% FG, 42.7% 3pt, 31.9 min

Hield came into the league a scorer. In Year 3, he joined elite company with his long-range shooting and established himself as one of the best marksman in the game.

The third-year guard set a new NBA record for most 3-pointers hit in the first three years of a career with 602, surpassing Damian Lillard’s mark of 599. He increased his makes from 176 last season to 278 this year while only dropping .04 percent off his shooting accuracy.  

In addition to the bump in long-range shooting, Hield helped himself in a couple of crucial areas. He increased his shots at the rim from 149 last season to 258 this year, while improving his field-goal percentage on those attempts by four percent. Plenty of these shots came in transition as the Kings pushed the tempo and Hield got out on the break.

Hield also increased his free throw attempts from one per game last season to 2.4 per game this year. This is an area that Hield could continue to improve on, which could push his scoring average even higher from the team-high 20.7 he averaged this season.

If there is one weakness in his offensive game, it’s in the 3 to 10-foot range. Hield relies heavily on the step-back jumper, instead of drawing contact or using a floater in the lane. He shot just 24 percent from this range on 121 attempts.

Hield has come back after each summer an improved player and there is no reason to believe he won’t do the same as he enters a contract year.

Defense

On the defensive side of the ball, Hield made strides, but he still needs work as both an on ball and team defender.

Like Fox, Hield did a nice job defending the 3-point line and held his own outside of 15 feet. He limited his opponents to 34.4 percent from long range, 1.6 percent below the league average of 36 percent. On mid-range shots, Hield limited his opponent to -.2 percent, which means he was at least close to average.

Hield shaved 1.5 percentage off his overall field goal percentage against from last season. On two-point shots, he went from a positive 6.1 percent to a positive 3.7 percent this season, which is a huge improvement. Clearly there is more room to grow.

In addition to the improvements in field goal percentage against, Hield posted career highs in both offensive and defensive rebounding.

On the downside, his steal numbers slipped from 1.5 per 36 minutes a season ago to just 0.8 per 36 this season. This is an issue, although many of Hield’s steals came as a defensive gambler last year. He needs to play the passing lanes better and keep his head on a swivel.

Like Fox, Hield would greatly be aided by defensive improvements around him. A rim protector and more experience from the bigs would help everyone’s numbers.

Overall

Hield is a young 26-year-old player and there is still so much room for growth. He can shoot one or two more 3-pointers per game. He could figure out how to draw more fouls. He certainly still has room to develop as a facilitator and defensive player.

Even if he doesn’t improve in these areas, the Kings still have a top 10 shooting guard by most metrics and he’s under team control for the next two seasons at a minimum, and perhaps much longer.

[RELATED: Hield shares surprising origin story about his nickname]

Luke Walton’s Lakers played at a faster pace than the Kings did last season and they did so without a pure shooter like Hield. Expect to see the combination of Fox and Hield running and gunning at an alarming pace during the 2019-20 campaign.  

Don’t expect another 7.2 points per game increase next season, but Hield is an extremely hard worker and he has a desire to improve. He’s also focused on breaking the franchise’s 13-season playoff curse.

NBA 2K20 ratings: Kings' Buddy Hield rated as fifth-best 3-point shooter

NBA 2K20 ratings: Kings' Buddy Hield rated as fifth-best 3-point shooter

Buddy Hield had a breakout 2018-19 season for the Sacramento Kings, and people are starting to take notice.

On the heels of his single-season franchise record of 278 3-pointers, Hield has been given a 90 rating for his 3-point shooting by the creators of NBA 2K20.

Hield ranks behind only Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Joe Harris. JJ Redick also has a 90 rating.

Hield's 278 3-pointers last season were the fourth-most in the NBA behind James Harden's 378, Curry's 354 and Paul George's 292.

The rest of the country got to see what Hield had been working on during the 2019 NBA 3-point Contest at All-Star Weekend. Hield made it to the final round, only to finish behind Harris (winner) and Curry (runner-up).

But Hield isn't settling for fifth-best. He wants to be better and let that be known on Monday.

[RELATED: Kings have 'couple of All-Stars']

If Hield can improve on his 278 3-pointers and 42 percent from deep next season, the NBA 2K creators are sure to move him up in the rankings.

Kings 'have a couple All-Stars,' fired assistant Larry Lewis believes

Kings 'have a couple All-Stars,' fired assistant Larry Lewis believes

Amidst all the reshuffling in the Western Conference over the last few weeks, it's easy to forget that the Sacramento Kings are one of the up-and-coming teams in the NBA.

Led by De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles, the Kings won 39 games last season and have a promising future.

But the group of coaches that helped get those players to where they are won't get to see the job through to the finish line. The Kings fired head coach Dave Joerger after the season and let all of his assistants go.

Two of those coaches, Elston Turner and Larry Lewis, recently spoke to the Sacramento Bee about their departure and what they are leaving behind.

“They have a couple All-Stars,” Lewis told The Bee. “I saw a lot of potential in that young, core group. These players have a learning curve, but they were adapting very, very quickly to what was going on. Do they have a lot to learn? Of course, but at the same time, these guys are for real. I would have loved to have been a part of that going forward, but their decision is their decision and I’m at peace with it."

Fox and Hield made the biggest jumps this past season. It's clear the work with Lewis, who was a player development coach, paid off.

“It was a great experience,” Lewis told The Bee. “The players really grew. They really matured a lot. We had a great season. The team got a lot better. The players got a lot better. That’s what it’s all about.”

From Year 1 to Year 2, Fox went from averaging 11.6 points per game to 17.3. His field goal percentage improved from 41.2 percent to 45.8 percent, and his 3-point shooting improved from 30.7 percent to 37.1 percent. Those numbers combined with the highlight-reel plays he made were good enough to help him finish third in the NBA's Most Improved Player voting.

As for Hield, he blossomed from a spot-starter to a guy that started all 82 games for the Kings this past season. He entered the year shrouded in questions, but answered every single one of them by averaging a career-high 20.7 points per game and sinking a Kings' single-season record 278 3-pointers.

Bagley and Giles, both rookies, showed that they have the potential to be difference-making bigs in the NBA.

[RELATED: Barkley: Kings won't make playoffs]

“You could see the improvement,” Turner told The Bee. “A lot of guys got better and Larry was head of the player development department, so he did a hell of a job.”

Now it will be up to new head coach Luke Walton and his staff to help the Kings' young core continue their development. If they do, Sacramento will be a force in the Western Conference for years to come.