Aside from a couple of 18-point outbursts back in November, there was not a lot to be excited about in the early days of the NBA career of Chavano Rainer* “Buddy” Hield.
(Side note: That is an awesome name)
Through his first 20 professional games, the No. 6 pick in last year’s draft was averaging an unsightly 6.9 ppg on 36.2 percent shooting (including 23.7 percent on 3s). This from the guy who averaged 25.0 ppg and 4.0 3s last year at Oklahoma. And I’d guess that after back-to-back games in late November/early December in which he totaled 4 minutes and 37 seconds of playing time, Hield ended up on the waiver wire of a lot of leagues – if he wasn’t there already.
But in mid-December, Buddy began to awaken. He dropped 21 points and five treys on the Pacers on Dec. 15th. And after a couple of single-digit duds in late December, he’s now gone on the best run of his brief career. Over his last seven games, Hield has posted 12.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.9 apg, 0.9 spg and 2.9 3s in 27 minutes per game (41.1 percent from the field). And that includes an ugly five-point outing on Thursday night, his lowest output of the last few weeks.
Some analysis that’s being written about Hield as a fantasy option is that he really does nothing aside from points and 3s. But is that actually the case? For starters, 4.7 rebounds is a pretty solid number for a guard (Kyle Lowry, as one example, averages 4.9). Also, it seems many of us have decided based on a really small sample size that he’s useless in steals. But he’s coming off a three-steal game on Monday, giving him 0.9 in his last seven. And while he’s certainly not going to be a dynamo in that department, something like 1.0 is well within reach.
I’ll also add this: 2.9 treys is a lot. That recent average of his, if it was his number for the whole season, would tie him for sixth in the NBA.
In closing on this topic, I’d like to give you a quick comparison. Check out the stats for this player below (we’ll call him “Mystery Player”) vs. the last seven games for Hield:
Mystery Player (season): 13.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.5 spg, 2.9 3s, 45.1 FG
Buddy Hield (last 7 gms): 12.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.9 apg, 0.9 spg, 2.9 3s, 41.1 FG
The Mystery Player in question is one Nick Young, who’s currently ranked No. 78 in 9-category leagues (thanks in part to absurdly low turnover numbers — 0.6 per game). As for Hield, lately he has been better than Young in rebounds, assists and steals (not that it’s hard to accomplish that), while hitting the same number of 3s per game. Is he Patrick Beverley when it comes to all-around fantasy production? Definitely not. But Hield is a high-volume source of 3s who can do a bit more than just the Nick Young model of points and triples. That gives him the look of a legitimately useful fantasy option right now — and going forward.
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Also on my mind this week…
Now might be a good time to try to trade for Victor Oladipo. After struggling early on in OKC (first 11 games: 15.2 ppg on 39.7 percent shooting), he was really starting to thrive before his wrist injury in December. In his last 12 games leading up to said injury, Oladipo put up 18.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.3 spg and 2.5 3s on 51.1 percent from the field. Since his return, he’s been pretty good — 16.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.0 spg and 2.6 3s — but not quite the level he was at prior to getting hurt. Fantasy owners probably aren’t frustrated with Oladipo at this point, but they also may be somewhere less than thrilled. As a result, I’d try to get him in a trade before he returns (probably pretty soon) to peak form.
Other Random Thoughts: Andre Drummond has averaged 3.0 spg and 3.7 bpg in his last three games. … Devin Booker is just a wild mixed bag of stats right now. His last four games, he’s averaging 29.0 ppg, 1.0 spg and 3.5 3s on 55.0 percent from the field. During the same stretch, he has posted just 2.5 rpg and 2.8 apg, with 4.8 turnovers and shaky free throw shooting (73.7 percent). Related: He’s 20 years old. … After a mostly disappointing season, Marvin Williams is finally showing signs of putting things together. His last four games, he’s at 13.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.3 bpg and 1.8 3s. Adding to the immediate appeal: Charlotte has four games each of the next two weeks.
1. one who rains, as in jump shots.
Lastly: Earlier this week I sat down in front of a camera and tried to decode the Bulls’ PG situation. I also discussed some waiver wire players (Doug McDermott, Donatas Motiejunas and maybe most notably, Caris LeVert). You can check out both videos below…