Kings demote Buddy Hield, start Bogdan Bogdanovic
Even for a franchise accustomed to misery, the Kings hit this season’s rock bottom Wednesday. Sacramento lost by 22 to the Pistons, who were missing Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Luke Kennard and Bruce Brown. It was the Kings’ sixth straight loss.
So, Sacramento made a big change last night – starting Bogdan Bogdanovic over Buddy Hield at shooting guard.
The adjustment worked beautifully. The Kings beat the Bulls, 98-81. The starting lineup outscored Chicago by seven points. Hield scored 21 points, shooting 2-for-3 on 2-pointers and 5-for-9 on 3-pointers, and grabbed eight rebounds.
Not every game will be against the lowly Bulls. But it’s not as if Sacramento had been beating anyone.
Kings coach Luke Walton, via James Ham of NBC Sports California:
Hield, via Ham:
Hield has underperformed this season, sometimes leading to tension. Good for him playing hard last night, and Walton was probably wise to downplay the move.
But a team benching a highly paid cornerstone is a big deal.
In order to balance lineups, teams don’t always start their five best players. But the best players usually start, because teams want to play their best players more. It’s generally better to spread that greater playing time over the full 48 minutes than a compressed period that begins several minutes into the game.
Last night, Sacramento treated Hield like a true reserve. He played just 23 minutes, down from 34 per game as a starter.
Maybe Hield will regain his confidence off the bench, return to the starting lineup and continue his momentum. That’d be great for the Kings, though it’d also maintain complications with Bogdanovic headed into restricted free agency this summer.
Sacramento has two talented shooting guards. That’s fine with Bogdanovic still on his first (though relatively high-paying) contract. It becomes more complicated when Bogdanovic receives his raise. The Kings might eventually have to choose between the two.
If nothing else, this lineup change shows not to take Hield’s once-exalted status in Sacramento for granted.