You may recall this play from last season:
Which led to this:
Buddy Hield made a huge three from way downtown and rather than being praised for his confidence and clutch make, he is instead yelled at by head coach Dave Joerger.
Then a few plays later, Buddy has the chance to win the game on another deep three. He hesitated on shooting the three-ball and subsequently advanced only to force up a tough turnaround fade-away which he aired, giving the Kings the loss.
Dave Joerger was heavily criticized for his visible criticism of Buddy after making that deep three pointer, which led to his hesitation a few plays later, and one of the reasons I believe that ultimately led to his firing.
I mean, why would Joerger get mad at a player for making a clutch bucket? Well now after watching the way Buddy is coached this year, it’s starting to make more sense.
In the grand scheme of things, Joerger obviously wasn’t mad about the made shot, he was merely condemning the poor decision making. Made shot or not, Buddy was going to hear it from Joerger for taking what appears to be a low percentage look.
This has been a part of Buddy’s downfall this season. While Joerger kept Hield on a tight leash and used the shooting guard in a straight forward role centered solely around his strengths, Walton has let the Bahamian do as he pleases. This has led to Hield not being very fond of Joerger, but looking back, he should be thanking his former coach for keeping him in check, but that’s not Buddy’s M.O.
His larger role in the Kings’ offense this season has probably made Walton more favorable in Buddy’s eyes, but at the same time, it’s the same reason he has struggled and got moved to the bench.
Under Joerger, we never saw Buddy handle the ball as much as he does now and Joerger certainly wouldn’t let Hield run the offense. Under Walton, Buddy brings the ball up the floor much more often and dribbles far too much.
Joerger knew of Buddy’s subpar basketball IQ and that’s why he protected Buddy from himself. This year, we are seeing the mishaps he can do when on the court, and in not learning from mistakes and not identifying his weaknesses, he is only hurting himself.
Dribbles Before Shooting
Closest Defender When Shooting
|0-2 Feet Very Tight||7.2%||7.4%|
|2-4 Feet Tight||29.9%||33.3%|
|4-6 Feet Open||32.3%||36.1%|
|6+ Feet Wide Open||30.6%||23.2%|
It doesn’t take heavy statistical research to know that Hield is dribbling the ball much more this season, and it’s even easier to see that it is leading to his increase in turnovers per game. On top of that, he is taking less wide open shots, which is leading to his lower quality looks and thus lower field goal percentages.
Idolizing Kobe Bryant growing up, its apparent that Hield wants to be just as great as his hero, but Buddy needs to realize his limitations. He will not achieve greatness through being a facilitator and or creating shots off the dribble. If he truly wants to be remembered as a great, he needs to stick to purely shooting the rock on the offensive end.
Now that Joerger’s gone and Walton let’s Buddy roam freely, it’s easy to understand why Joerger was so tough on the Bahamian, but he only had Buddy’s best interest at heart.
Until Walton follows suit, Buddy will continue to play himself out of favor. The first year head coach is not utilizing Buddy exclusively according to his strengths and it is extremely apparent game in and game out. Even though Walton’s long leash seems like a blessing to big-eyed Buddy, it is only hurting him in the long term, and thus the team.
Dribble less, pass less, and stick to shooting quality shots. That is Buddy’s true recipe for success. He has a high ceiling, but until he plays to his strengths, he will never amount to his potential.