Sacramento Kings: Why Buddy Hield must not be traded

Sacramento Kings Buddy Hield (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Sacramento Kings Buddy Hield (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /

The Sacramento Kings shouldn’t trade Buddy Hield

Buddy Hield has had a rollercoaster year. He signed a hefty contract extension with the Sacramento Kings, lost his starting position, and somewhat lost his patience with Luke Walton and the front office. During the epitome of his distaste with the team, trade rumors began to swirl and Hield became a target for opposing team’s front offices.

Despite this, Vlade Divac remained loyal to Hield and there’s hope that new general manager Monte McNair does the same.

The most recent rumored destination for Hield is the Philidelphia 76ers. Reports show that Philly has expressed some sort of interest in Hield, with many viewing 3-point assassins as the missing piece to their puzzle. Offers circulating around the likes of Josh Richardson and Al Horford may not be enough to intrigue the Kings.

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In my eyes, the only way I’d trade Hield to Philly, or anywhere for that matter, is if he wants out. If he voices his displeasure with the franchise and asks for a trade then fine, get rid of him. Until that day, Hield must remain a King.

Comparing Buddy’s last season with Dave Joerger to his first season with Luke Walton, it’s clear to see he’s had some teething issues. Although he shot a similar volume of shots and his minutes were unchanged, his efficiency dropped. It is especially evident in his turnover rate, which doubled from 1.5 to three per game.

What has caused Buddy Hield’s regression? 

After six-straight losses in late January, the Kings finally broke the streak, thrashing the Bulls 98 – 81. It was the first time Hield came off the bench and it seemed like he may have found a home as the sixth man.

While the Kings began to win, Buddy’s individual performances were not comparable to the previous year. Hield thrived alongside De’Aaron Fox with their ‘run and gun’ style of play, throttling teams on the fast break. His 3-point shooting allowed Fox to drive into the paint with the whereabouts to know that Hield is in the corner waiting for a shot. Buddy’s off-ball movement combined with Fox’s slashing play style gave opposing teams nightmares.

Dwayne Wade discussed this on The Old Man and the Three Podcast.

"“I knew it was over for me when these young guys came in, and they were running so fast… De’Aaron Fox and Buddy [Hield] were getting a shot off in like three seconds!”"

Now with Hield coming off the bench, Walton used him as the primary ball-handler and playmaker, which is just not in his wheelhouse. Hield’s turnovers spiked, his off-ball movement ceased to exist, and the bench team became all about Buddy creating a shot for himself – often contested.

Now I trust Hield to make almost any shot, but when the identity of the bench is to ‘stand around and let buddy dribble for 24 seconds and throw up a prayer’ then I have to say something.

With his usage rate and turnover rates both climbing, it was only a matter of time before his shooting took a dip too. Shooting below 40 percent from 3 on over nine attempts per game is not the type of progression Kings fans expected. But that should be expected, especially since his entire role on the team changed.

While some fans may have a short memory, I remember how influential Hield has been over the last few years.

Buddy is so important to this Kings team. Over the years he has single-handedly won games that they had no business being in. Back in 2017, Buddy spearheaded a fourth-quarter 18-point comeback against a surging LA Clippers team that had already chalked the game down as a dub. Hield’s shooting alone brought the Kings back and for this reason, is one of the most important cogs in this Kings’ machine. Since then, Hield has repeated this feat many a time, with the epitome being the game-stealing shot against Detroit.

In wins, Hield averaged 20 points on over 45 percent from 3 from nine attempts per game. On losses, his shot dipped to 35 percent on the same amount of shots. What’s evident here is that Hield will shoot no matter what and it’s up to the coach to understand what sort of night he is having and set plays accordingly.

In short, when Buddy shoots well, the Kings win.

Where does Hield fit on the Sacramento Kings? 

Despite the trade rumors, McNair voiced his intentions of keeping Buddy in town. Speaking to KHTK Sports, McNair seemed happy with the prospect of utilising Hield.

"“Buddy is an incredible young talent. He is one of the elite shooters in the league, and we are going to be able to utilize him in this system.”"

I hope McNair not only keeps Hield in the Sacramento but also reinstates him into the starting lineup. To keep it short, Buddy and De’Aaron are made for each other. Fox is comfortable being the primary playmaker while Hield can run his off-ball routes and stretch the floor. This not only opens up the paint for Fox, but it also means more catch-and-shoot opportunities for Hield – can’t complain about that.

Now with Hield back in the starting lineup, that means Bogdan Bogdanovic (pending he re-signs) converts back into a sixth man. I feel he is better suited for this role as he has that extra layer of composure to his game. He never seems to get flustered and will happily pass to an open player if he believes they have a good look. Yes, Bogi is not as talented of a scorer, but his overall basketball IQ is substantially better. His pick-and-roll chemistry with Harry Giles, Nemanja Bjelica, and Marvin Bagley is evidence enough of his vision and ability as a primary ball-handler.

Trading Hield right now would be a disaster for this Kings team. There’s no scenario where the Kings ‘win’ this trade and I can absolutely see them trading Buddy away for pebbles. I’m yet to see a trade idea that is even remotely fair, with most reports believing a straight swap for Josh Richardson is plausible.

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Going forward, Hield is going to be an extremely important piece to this Kings team and as the current 3-point champion, knows a thing or two about long-range scoring. If the Kings can retain him and reinsert him into the starting lineup then I believe the Kings can compete for the playoffs.