Sacramento Kings: Welcome to the Buddy Hield show

Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield (24) celebrates a three-point basket against the Utah Jazz on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018 at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif. (Hector Amezcua/Sacramento Bee/TNS via Getty Images)
Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield (24) celebrates a three-point basket against the Utah Jazz on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018 at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif. (Hector Amezcua/Sacramento Bee/TNS via Getty Images) /

Playing in his third season with the Sacramento Kings, Buddy Hield already has 341 made 3-pointers under his belt in only 63 starts.

Buddy Hield is turning in a stellar season for the high-powered Sacramento Kings. On the season, he’s averaging 20.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game with .475/.435/.857 shooting splits — career highs all across the board.

He’s been just one of the numerous bright spots of the Kings’ incredible turnaround from last season. It’s hard to imagine they’d be where they are without the red-hot shooting of their leading scorer.

There have been some exceptional deep shooting marksmen throughout Kings history. From Mitch Richmond to Peja Stojakovic, now Buddy Hield looks to join the ranks. Despite only being a part of the franchise for two seasons, Hield is already making major strides and climbing up the all-time leader board of 3-point shooters.

Hield is already 10th all-time in made 3-point field goals for the organization, and he’ll likely end up sixth by the end of this season.

In the 2017-18 season, Hield drained 176 triples. There have been only eight other times in Kings history in which a player made 150 or more 3-pointers in a single season. His 176 made 3s are the fifth-most on the list, and that’s with playing considerably fewer minutes:

  • Peja Stojakovic: 240 made 3s, 1,240 more minutes
  • Mitch Richmond: 225 made 3s, 922 more minutes
  • Mitch Richmond: 204 made 3s, 1,101 more minutes
  • Mike Bibby: 192 made 3s, 1,143 more minutes

It’s also worth mentioning that the other four guys were consistent starters, while Hield started in on 12 games that season.

Hield ended last season as the ninth-most efficient 3-point shooter in the league, converting on 43.1 percent of his shots behind the arc. He carried it over into this season as he’s 13th in 3-point percentage with a 43.5 percent conversion rate.

His elite deep shooting has helped transform the Kings offense and take them from a bottom tier shooting team, to a top-of-the-line, shoot-you-out-of-the-gym ball club. They’re ninth in made 3-point field goals (11.6) and second in 3-point percentage (38.7 percent). For the month of December, they’ve jumped all the way to third in made 3s (13.4) and second in 3-point percentage (39.5 percent).

One of the reasons, if not the biggest reason, for this hot stretch in December is credited to Hield, who’s performed like one of the best players in the league during this stretch. In 11 games this month, Hield is averaging 23.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while making the third-most 3s (4.5 per game) among all players and shooting 44.5 percent from deep.

Staying in December, he has nine games with 20 or more points, six games with 25 or more, and one 30-point performance. He’s converted on two or more 3-pointers in each game and has seven games in which he’s hit five or more. You’d need an entire fire department to put him out when he gets going. He didn’t get the nickname Buddy Buckets for nothing.

The most impressive part of his advanced 3-point shooting, however, is the volume he’s doing it at. In his rookie season, Hield was attempting 4.6 3s a game with the New Orleans Pelicans. That number jumped to 5.1 the following season with the Kings, and now to 7.3 a night this season.

Using Basketball-Reference’s player season finder, Buddy Hield is one of four players in NBA history to attempt seven or more 3-pointers a game while shooting 43 percent or better on them. He’s making history just three years into his professional career.

While he probably won’t get much love for the All-Star Game, it would be an absolute travesty if he wasn’t apart of the 3-Point Contest. It’s not a big deal, but the Kings have only had one player (Stojakovic) win the 3-Point Contest since its introduction in 1986. Hield has a legitimate chance to come away with the crown if he’s invited to the event. After all, this is a guy who is third in the NBA in catch-and-shoot points (7.6 per game). This is nothing new to him.

Hield isn’t just an astounding outside shooter though. He can get it done from all levels, as he’s 55-for-118 (46.6 percent) on mid-range shots and 72-for-115 (62.6 percent) inside the restricted area. He’s turning into a prolific scorer right before our eyes.

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The next step for Hield going forward is to mature as a passer and playmaker, and sharpen his work on the defensive end. If he does that, the sky is the limit for him and the Sacramento Kings.