After going 3 for 13 from long range on Monday night, Buddy Hield’s three point percentage dropped to 36.5% on the year. Hield, who was a .419% career three point shooter coming into this season, is uncharacteristically hitting a low amount of shots.
Buddy had a breakout season last year, dropping 20.7 points a game on .458% shooting and .427% from deep. His 278 threes last year was the seventh most in NBA history with a guy named Steph Curry filling four of the six spots ahead.
So what is the reason for the struggles from deep we’ve seen from Hield over a quarter of the way into the season?
This year, Buddy is second in the NBA with three pointers made per game (3.8) and three pointers attempted per game (10.4). Considering he only averages 17.8 shots a game, the proportion of attempted long balls overshadows all other attempts.
This is most likely due to the NBA, as a whole, moving further from the rim, and teams focusing more on scoring three points at a time as opposed to two.
Already the Kings are averaging almost five more threes a game this year (34.7) than last year (29.9). And who else would you want to be shooting those shots other than your best three point shooter who’s contract will earn him an extra $500,000 if he leads the league in treys?
Compared to last year, Buddy is shooting 2.5 more three balls a game but only making .4 more. Simply said, he’s taking more shots this year in order to make the same amount as last year.
He has increased his shots per game average from 16.6 a game last year to 17.8 a game this year yet making .2 less shots a game this year, and his field goal percentage is taking the hits (.417%).
It’s all to blame on the deep ball as well. He has shot .489% on two pointers this season off of 7.4 attempts a game.
It could be the influx of three point shots that Sacramento has begun to take this season, or quite possibly, something else.
Looking at the stats of his contested three point shots paints a better picture.
On three point shots contested within 0-2 feet, Buddy is 1-8 on the season. Not surprising, but they are such a small percentage of the 197 threes he has taken this year so far.
He is shooting a cool 39.9%, or 13-33 from contested shots within 2-4 feet. That’s pretty good for a tightly contested shot and higher than what he is shooting from deep on the season.
This is where a little worry sets in. On open shots, or contested shots within 4-6 feet, Hield is 24-82. That’s a 29.3%. The shots he should be knocking down and the looks that should compile his second highest analytical conversion percentage are not dropping in.
Onto wide open looks with six or more feet of room, Buddy is making 45.9% of them and is 34-74 on the season. And the sky is blue.
Hield needs to knock down open shots on a more consistent basis. He is shooting well on tightly contested shots and isn’t taking many shots that are very tightly contested.
It could be a state of mind, it could still be early in the season and that we’ll hopefully see that number rise. But for now, that is where the struggles are coming from.
Hield might be second in the league for three pointers made going into Tuesday night, but he’s also second for three pointers attempted and shooting .365% from deep, a dismal percentage for a marksman.
If Buddy wants to take the next step in his career and steer the Kings towards the postseason, then he will need to start knocking down threes at a higher clip, and it all starts with the open ones.