Buddy Hield Should be Moved Back to the Starting Lineup

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 27: Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield (24) reacts after a call during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers on January 27, 2019, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire)

News broke on Wednesday that a source close to Buddy Hield said that the aforementioned sharp-shooter may request a trade in the offseason if he continues to come off the bench.

This news might be being taken out of hand as Hield isn’t even the one who said this, but it is certainly worth noting.

Now, if you have followed this website’s content long enough, despite its short existence, it may be surmised that I am pro-Buddy Hield, which is somewhat true.

However, I will never fail to call out his struggles or his poor decision making, and I won’t bend over backwards to make up excuses for the fourth year shooting guard out of Oklahoma. At the same time, I will not undervalue the man’s talent just because he has “struggled” for half a season.

Just a few days ago, he became the fastest player to reach 800 made three pointers and that’s on a career 41% three point percentage. Hield has what it takes to be a star in this league and it is a potential that should not be overlooked.

I understand his move to the bench. He struggled for most of the season leading up to his benching and Walton had no choice but to give him a “reduced” role. A demotion if you will, but likely more of a little weight off his back.

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But as you can see above, since being given his new role, Buddy has been playing tremendously. And It’s not because he is coming off the bench, it’s because he is playing smarter basketball.

One reason Buddy struggled early on was because of his over-dribbling which led to his poor shot selection. Instead of being the catch and shoot player that he thrives at being, he spent too much time attempting to create his own shot.

Below are Buddy’s frequency and field goal percentages on shots he takes after a certain amount of dribbles before being moved to the bench:

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Below are his same statistical categories as above, but this is since being moved to the bench:

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Since his reduced role, Buddy has shot more on a smaller amount of dribbles, and his shooting percentages have only benefitted from this change in shot selection.

The amount of dribbles Buddy takes has a direct correlation to the amount of time Buddy has the ball before shooting it.

Below are Buddy’s frequency and field goal percentages on shots he takes after having the ball for a certain amount of time prior to being moved to the bench:

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Below are Buddy’s frequency and field goal percentages on shots he takes after having the ball for a certain amount of time since being moved to the bench:

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As you can see, the more Buddy focuses on shooting the ball quickly and dribbling less, the more his field goal percentages go up.

Same goes with the catch and shoot method. The more Buddy sticks to the catch and shoot approach, the better he shoots the ball.

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But as said before, it’s not solely his over-dribbling that contributed to his struggles, it was his string of bad shot selections that also hampered his ability to shoot the ball well.

Below are Buddy’s frequency and field goal percentages on contested shots he took before being moved to the bench:

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Below are Buddy’s frequency and field goal percentages on the same types of contested shots he took after being moved to the bench:

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Since being moved to the bench, Buddy has increased the amount of open looks he shoots and this has only improved Buddy’s shooting percentages.

In all, Hield hasn’t just magically started becoming a better player because he is now a sixth man, he is playing better because he is making smarter decisions.

If Buddy sticks to dribbling less, taking more shots on open looks, and staying true to his catch and shoot niche, Buddy is deserving of regaining his starting position.

Some might argue this and say that Bogi is deserving of the starting job because he has played well since being promoted.

This is in fact not totally true. Buddy has outperformed Bogi in every major statistical category since their role swap.

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Even in the advanced stats category, Buddy is playing better than Bogdanovic. Comparing offensive ratings, Hield is at 113.2 coming off the bench while Bogi is at 110.7 as a starter. In defensive ratings, Hield is at 111.7 off the bench while Bogi is at 113.3 as a starter.

Others might argue that since swapping Bogi and Buddy, the Kings have been succeeding. Well, success is subjective in this case. I understand going 6-4, with 4 of those wins coming against sub .500 teams, is considered a good run for Sacramento given the last 13 years, but for good teams, that may as well be called playing mediocre.

Buddy has learned from his mistakes and has outperformed Bogi since their shift in roles. I understand that the amount of minutes is more important than whether a player starts or comes off the bench, but Buddy wants to start and he is earning the right to reclaim his former spot.

He has proven that he has moved on from his mistakes and has taken his demotion with stride. He has shown vast improvement in the weakest areas of his game, and for that, Buddy should be moved back to the starting lineup.

[All stats retrieved from nba.com]

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Ian Kinzel
Ian Kinzel
3 years ago

What if Hield is making smarter decisions because he’s getting better looks coming off the bench against second-string defenders?

Which seems more likely: that this sudden improvement in play comes from a sudden change in his playing conditions, or that he suddenly picked up a significant skill that he didn’t already know?

Ian Kinzel
Ian Kinzel
3 years ago
Reply to  capcitycrown

We were playing in a more up tempo offense last season, though, whereas Walton has slowed the team down considerably (which IMO is a huge problem in and of itself). It might just be that Hield can’t cut it against starting caliber players in the half court.

3 years ago

Who made the comment, his agent? Buddy seems to thrive off the bench, so if he’s putting up the numbers who cares if he’s starting or not? W’s are what they should care about, not their place in the starting lineup or bench…geez.