Changing of the guard.
Needing some sort of spark to shake things up, Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton is making a switch in his starting lineup. Bogdan Bogdanovic will start in place of Buddy Hield at shooting guard Friday evening in Chicago as the team looks to snap a six-game losing streak.
“It’s the same message I’ve given all year, look, we’ve had however many starting lineups all season long and it doesn’t matter, we’re a team,” coach Luke Walton told reporters prior to the game against the Bulls. “We’re struggling to win games right now, so we’re looking to see different groups give us a better chance of doing that.”
The move is a big change for Buddy Hield, who has started the last 126 games for the Kings. The 27-year-old shooting guard signed a massive four-year, $86 million extension in October, but he’s struggled on the defensive end all season and his shooting numbers are way down.
“There’s nothing permanent with it, it’s not a punishment to Buddy at all,” Walton added. “Buddy’s been great and we expect him to be great for us tonight. But we’ve got to keep looking for something that works for us.”
After shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from 3-point range last year, Hield is knocking down just 41.6 percent overall and 36 percent from behind the arc this season.
Due to injuries to both Bogdanovic and De’Aaron Fox, he’s been asked to carry a larger load when it comes to ball handling and playmaking, but he’s been forcing the action as of late.
“He’ll be fine,” Walton said. “Buddy’s a professional and he knows how we feel about him. Again, this is not a punishment towards him, we’re just looking at trying to mix some things up, try to give ourselves a little juice and find a way to win a game in this stretch that we’re in right now.”
Bogdanovic was set to be the starter at the two last season, but a late summer knee injury cost him the first 10 games of the season. Hield stepped in and played extremely well in his absence and the previous coaching staff decided to stick with a starting backcourt of Fox and Hield.
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In his third NBA season, Bogdanovic is averaging 14.5 points, 3.5 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game off the bench for Sacramento. He’s the Kings’ most versatile player and one of the better playmakers on the roster.
The Kings are 3-14 over their last 17 games and Walton is looking for a spark to shake things up. Bogdanovic is a restricted free agent at the end of the season and he’ll get his shot to shine after coming off the bench for 33 games this season.