Sacramento Kings: Grading Buddy Hield’s 2018-19 NBA season

Sacramento Kings Buddy Hield (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Sacramento Kings Buddy Hield (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

With the 2018-19 season firmly behind us, it’s time to grade some of the Sacramento Kings most promising young players on their seasons. This time we look at the exhilarating Buddy Hield.

The Sacramento Kings far exceeded essentially all expectations in the 2018-19 season and when looking at the roster, it’s easy to see why. That trend of overachievement was made possible by the players who did the same — chief among those was third-year shooting guard Buddy Hield.

While point guard De’Aaron Fox received much of the national attention as the team’s budding playmaker and rookie Marvin Bagley was garnering hype as a rising star, it was quietly Buddy Hield who perhaps had the best year out of all of them.

Hield was expected to enter the season as the Kings’ primary sixth-man but a summer injury to Bogdan Bogdanovic pushed him into the starting lineup. However, even after Bogdanovic returned, Hield’s play made it impossible to take him out of a starting role.

The Bahamian-born sharpshooter posted career highs in points, rebounds, and assists per game all the while developing into one of the deadliest three-point shooters in the league. Hield shot a stellar 45.8% from behind the arc. Only Stephen Curry made more threes this season while still shooting at a similar rate.

In fact, Hield’s 602 three-pointers are the most made by any player in his first three seasons in the league, passing Damian Lillard‘s mark of 599. This remarkable total allowed him to average over 20 points per game this season, an incredible improvement of 7.2 points from the previous season.

All-around, Hield easily became Sacramento’s best scorer and continued his ascension towards being one of the best pure shooters in the entire NBA. It was also encouraging to see Hield improve in other aspects of his offensive game.

While still a ways away from being a complete all-around offensive superstar, Hield improved his handling and created more shots for himself than in the past. His ability to drive still needs some work but he did become a bit more dynamic as an offensive player as opposed to simply being a catch-and-shoot scorer.

Hield also improved marginally as a defender, particularly when guarding the perimeter. Opponents shot just 34.4% from long range, 1.6% below the league average of 36%. However, his overall team defense still needs some work as he is often slow to react to switches.

Related Story. Sacramento Kings: Grading Marvin Bagley’s rookie season. light

At the end of the day, Hield’s ceiling as a defender is likely curbed due to his physical limitations — that being his meager wingspan and subpar lateral quickness. But one thing about Hield’s game that’s never be called into question has been his hustle.

It’s clear that Hield is giving it his all out there every time he’s on the court and that helps out his defensive game, despite his limitations. His hustling ability has also helped him to become an above-average rebounder for a player at his position.

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Hield ranked sixth out of all shooting guards in total rebounds which is purely an effort stat at that point. He also managed to improve his rebounds per game total from 3.8 last season to a very respectable 5.0 per game.

Despite being 26-years-old, Hield could still have plenty of development left in the tank as he entered the league as a 24-year-old back in 2016. That bodes well for the Kings who will be hoping to build upon a core of Hield, Fox, and Bagley in the near and distant future.

Hield may never be a complete superstar, but he excels at shooting the ball in the hoop which is really the name of the game when it comes down to it. Given his impeccable ability to continue improving and his seemingly never-ending energy and hustle, Hield could very well develop into an All-Star caliber player by next season.

Next. Sacramento Kings: Grading De’Aaron Fox’s second NBA season. dark

You could even argue he was at that level this year.

Regardless, it’s hard to look at the 2018-19 season as anything other than an overwhelming success for the former New Orleans Pelican. And Kings fans certainly can’t wait to see what next season brings.

Final Grade: A-