From the drama to his ultimate benching, it is safe to say that last season was not Buddy’s year. After signing a massive extension before the start of the season, disheartened fans watched as Buddy took a complete step backwards.
There were a lot of factors that led to Buddy’s downfall including team injuries, new coaching, and an utter change in his style of play. Now, with another fresh start available, can Buddy use it to regain his form from the 2018/19 campaign and put 2019/20 behind him? If he wants to, he will need to work on certain components of his game.[table “40” not found /]
Just looking at Buddy’s stats over the past two seasons, you will notice considerable differences. Most notably, Buddy’s field goal and three point percentages are down from 2018/19 and while Buddy heaved up 1.7 more threes a game last season, he only made 0.4 more in 2019/20 than in 2018/19.
This drop off can be traced back to several factors in his game. Let’s take a look:
Looking at his scoring and shooting—the skills Buddy’s most known for—he has declined in areas that, in turn, led him to be a less dangerous scorer than the year prior.
Closest Defender[table “34” not found /]
Based on the shots he took last year in comparison to 2018/19, Hield saw an increase in tightly contested shots and a decrease in wide open shots.
If Buddy wants to get back to where he was two years ago, then taking better looks is key. Last season, we saw him force up way too many tough shots, and that needs to change this year.
Touch time[table “42” not found /]
Buddy also began having possession of the ball too much as there was an increase in instances where he possessed the ball for more than six seconds and a drop in times where he shot in less than two seconds.
That failed conversion into a combo guard—which is exactly what that was—did not suit Buddy’s catch-and-shoot type game, and thus he became less effective. Buddy needs to focus on playing to his strengths, and get the ball out of his hands quickly. Which bring us to the next point:
Dribbles[table “28” not found /]
As you can imagine, with the jump in time of possession, Buddy contradicted his forte by dribbling before attempted shots far more than previously.
The fact that 0, 1, and 2 amount of dribbles decreased from 2018/19 and 3-6 and 7+ dribbles increased shows that Buddy needs to play off-ball more often.
Walton needs to hold Buddy accountable and put away the combo guard experiment that resulted in a disaster. Buddy needs to embrace his strength as a catch-and-shoot machine.
Assisted vs Unassisted Shots[table “43” not found /]
But going straight back to the combo guard/over-dribbling narrative comes a stat that shows the amount of shots made that were assisted vs unassisted.
When looking at the table, it is clear that Buddy strayed away from shooting shots off the pass and in turn, went to go find his own looks. This, in part, led to Hield’s downfall. The increase in dribbling and amount of time the ball was in his hands shows that Buddy played a lot more in isolation.
Again, as a catch-and-shoot player who is so good at draining quality looks off of assists, Buddy needs to get back to his roots and leave the iso ball behind him.
Hield thrived along with De’Aaron Fox during the 2018/19 campaign as Fox was the one finding Hield for the wide open looks. It didn’t help that Fox was injured for a good chunk of last season, but even when they were on the floor together, they didn’t seem to have the connection they did the year before.[table “44” not found /]
Although Fox was passing to Buddy at around the same rate last season compared to the season before, Hield’s shooting percentages were down when shooting off Fox’s passes.
If Hield and the Kings want to recreate the momentum they had going in the 2018/19 season, then Fox and Hield need to get back on the same page.
Buddy was far from perfect last season. When expected to take a giant step forward, he took a huge weight upon his back. This was largely due to poor shooting that stemmed from a symphony of bad shot selection, holding onto the ball too long, dribbling too much, and creating shots off the dribble opposed to being assisted.
If Buddy can play to his strengths as we have seen him do before, then he should be able to be the good ol’ Buddy Sacramento grew to adore. Taking high percentage shots off assists with a quick release along with regaining his link with De’Aaron Fox should get Buddy back on track.