Buddy Hield’s future with the Sacramento Kings isn’t exactly rock solid, but was he set up for failure by the current coaching staff?
There could be some uncertainty surrounding Buddy Hield and his future with the Sacramento Kings. Despite the large contract extension that he signed before the 2019-’20 season, there have been talks and rumors of Hield wanting out of Sacramento.
After struggling through the middle part of the season, the Kings found success when they changed roles for Hield and relegated him to the bench. He was replaced by Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Sacramento began clawing back in to an unlikely playoff push. Bogdanovic was much improved in his new position, and Hield contributed numbers similar to those he did in his starting role but with a bit more efficiency.
Hield has always been outspoken to the media, and there were rumblings this last season of a divided locker room and an unhappy Hield. There was even a report that Hield would seek a trade in the off season.
And frankly, a Hield trade makes sense. They have a newly-starting shooting guard who is due a big contract extension, and paying his backup $24 million a year doesn’t seem like a keen financial decision. He has also had issues with ball security and late-game decision-making which have drawn the frustration of both the coaching staff and the fan base.
However, that doesn’t mean that Hield was given a fair shake in this situation. He thrived two seasons ago under then-head coach Dave Joerger as a lethal catch-and-shoot guard. He hit the 7th most three-pointers in a single season in NBA history and had some memorable clutch moments throughout the season.
All of that changed with Luke Walton and his new coaching staff. Hield would occasionally be the primary ball handler, something that may have been out of necessity when starting point guard De’Aaron Fox missed 16 games. Backup point guard Cory Joseph is not the playmaker the Kings needed, so duties would often be put on the shoulders of Hield.
Creating is not Buddy Hield’s game. He doesn’t have an explosive first step, nor the quickness to get by any defender worth his weight. Because of this, he relies on his step-back game when he is forced to create, which causes him to settle for mid-range jumpers and off-balance shots.
If you were to look back at Hield’s clutch moments in 2018-’19, most of them came in catch-and-shoot situations or off of a single dribble. This last season, there were times when Hield was asked to dribble out the clock and force up a contested shot. His numbers dipped across the board even as his usage rates increased.
So are Hield’s struggles his fault? Or are they a direct result of the role that was given to him by the coaching staff?
These are things that the Kings front office will hopefully consider when they go through their decision-making process this coming off season. Unfortunately, none of that may matter in the end. It could be a simple financial decision based on what is best for the rebuild and future of the franchise.
For continuing updates on the Buddy Hield situation as well as all other Kings news, stay tuned to A Royal Pain.