Why a Move to the Bench Can Be Beneficial to Buddy Hield and the Kings

After reaching a 12-11 record on a 7 of 8 run and looking like a real competitor in the Western Conference, the Kings have chucked their momentum out the window, sending them into a helter-skelter free fall.

Since then, the team has lost 8 straight games and sit at 12-19 with the 6th worst record in the NBA. There are many factors that have lead to Sacramento’s collapse, but among them, one glaring issue has been the play of Buddy Hield.

Buddy Hield is having his worst season ever, shooting career lows from the field and three point land. Once seen as a key piece of the Kings’ future, Hield has petered out into just another overpaid shooting guard in less than a season and a half.

 MINFG%3P%FT%REBASTSTLPTS
D. Fox34.2.466.342.6723.27.61.223.0

On the other hand, rookie guard Tyrese Haliburton has quickly established himself as one of the best and most important pieces on the Kings. With that said, is it time to swap roles and move Buddy to the bench and Haliburton to the starting lineup?

In his very short career, Haliburton has been terrific, cementing himself as a valuable piece for the Kings now and going forward. He is easily outperforming Hield in all metrics and even shows to be a better shooter than Hield, a guy who made his name on his marksmanship. 

Moving Haliburton to the starting lineup might not change a lot for the rookie considering he is already playing big minutes for Walton, and a good chunk of that load already consist of key minutes late in the game. But a move to the starting lineup could prove to be valuable to the other starters. Haliburton has the talent to take pressure off of Fox by effortlessly running the offense while also setting up bigs like Bagley and Holmes for easy dunks.

Although moving Haliburton would definitely make the starting lineup more potent, it would be a hit to the depth off the bench since Haliburton performed so well as a glue for the second unit.

However, last year, when the Kings lost 15 of 18 on a horrid streak reminiscent of this current stretch, a struggling Buddy Hield got the boot to the bench in favor of Bogdan Bogdanovic. Although publicly unhappy with Walton’s decision, Hield thrived off the bench and the Kings went 13-7 in those 20 game just before the NBA suspension.

In those 20 games, Buddy averaged:

 MINFG%FT%REBASTBLKPTS
R. Holmes29.4.651.8068.31.71.513.0

Feeling mostly out of the playoff race following the 3-15 stretch, the Kings were given new life and made a late push for the 8th seed. A lot of credit for the Kings’ late season success was due to Buddy’s brilliant play as the sixth man, which included an epic 42 point performance in one of the greatest comebacks in NBA history.

Off the bench and averaging 10 minutes less per game than as a starter, Hield’s shooting percentages skyrocketed with his points, assists, and rebounds per game staying mostly the same, even in his lighter role.

Bringing it back to this season, a move to the bench for Buddy could be another blessing in disguise for the Bahamian. He can feast off the weaker second units while looking like a star and adding a much needed scoring punch off the bench.

I see a swap of Haliburton for Hield as a seamless win win. The rookie has earned the starting nod due to his excellent play, and there he can boost his fellow starters’ overall play with his great IQ and passing. In the mean time, Hield can carve up the opposing squad’s second unit, supplying chunks of production and raising his value in potential trade scenarios. 

Hield is not having a good year at all, and although he might not want to go back to the bench, it is the best thing for both him and the Kings. 

Sacramento doesn’t have much to lose since they’ve already been losing enough at this point. Perhaps if Hield becomes the sixth man again he can help this team get back on track. It worked last year, and it just might work again. 

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