There isn’t a ton going on in the world of sports right now. NBA Summer League action is getting a decent amount of attention, and much of that attention has revolved around former Oklahoma Sooners star Buddy Hield and his rookie backcourt mate De’Aaron Fox. When taking rookies Frank Mason III and Justin Jackson into account, the Sacramento Kings have one of the most exciting young backcourts in the league. Here are some highlights from last night’s matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers, a game in which Buddy Hield did Buddy Hield things down the stretch.
Buddy struggled to find his groove early in his rookie campaign with the New Orleans Pelicans. Many, including myself, felt a bit bad for Buddy after he was traded to the Kings for Demarcus Cousins midseason, as it was believed that he was going to a toxic franchise with little hope. Things looked even worse when NBA writer Baxter Holmes (another OU alum!) reported that Kings owner Vivek Ranadive thought Hield had the potential of Steph Curry, which resulted in a lot of unfair criticism and pressure for the former Sooner.
However, Hield’s game began to click in SacTown, where he ended up averaging 15.1 PPG and hitting nearly 43 percent of his threes after the All-Star break. And as Hield continued to thrive, the narrative began to change. The Kings then picked up Fox, Jackson and Mason in the 2017 NBA Draft and added veterans George Hill, Zach Randolph and Vince Carter, so things are actually looking pretty bright at this point.
Hield appears to be in a positive situation entering his second NBA season, and he has a real chance to take his game to the next level. His struggles in New Orleans can be partially attributed to a lack of trust from his coaches, but Sacramento head coach Dave Joerger appears set on letting him do his thing. Buddy is a guy who needs to be given a green light in order to find his groove, and I’m glad that Joerger is smart enough to recognize that.
Now that Hield is in a situation that allows him to thrive, how good can he be in 2017-18? I think it’s reasonable to expect him to average somewhere in the high teens this coming season with the help of his new backcourt mates. Having a veteran point guard like Hill should help the young guy immensely, and Fox’s ability to penetrate and draw help will open things up for him as well. These kinds of things could allow him to be the type of NBA player that we all thought he could be as we were watching him drop 46 on the Kansas Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse. Expecting him to be an All-Star in his sophomore campaign may be a tad optimistic, but it may be doable if he can hit the 20-point average mark by next February. He’s going to need to be more consistent if he’s ever going to be a star in the NBA, but he has the work ethic to make drastic improvements from year to year.
After many thought Hield looked like a bust, his career appears to be on an upward trajectory. Could he end up being the best NBA player to ever come out of OU? Blake Griffin will be tough to top (he’s already been an All-Star five times), but a big 2017-18 campaign could get him going in that direction.
Will Buddy Hield be an All-Star by 2020?
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Which former Sooner will end up having the better NBA career when it’s all said and done?
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