As the NBA season heads into the All-Star break this weekend in Charlotte, we thought we’d start bringing you weekly updates the rest of the way on the three former Oklahoma Sooners stars — Blake Griffin, Buddy Hield and Trae Young — currently making headlines for their respective teams. While many of you have kept up with one or all three players all season, this post can serve as your weekly one-stop shop for all things Blake, Buddy and Trae as the 2018-19 season rolls on.
To kick things off, I thought I’d recap the season so far, starting with recently-named Eastern Conference All-Star Game reserve, Detroit Pistons power forward Blake Griffin. Griffin’s game has grown tremendously over the last few seasons, and he’s been nothing short of sensational since being dealt by the Clippers to the Motor City a year ago.
The nine-year vet boasts season averages of 26.1 points per game — good for 11th in the league — to go with 8.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists per outing. The Pistons have given Griffin the keys to the offense, and he continues to showcase his increasingly polished all-around game while making his teammates better. For those who haven’t seen him play this season, Blake’s court vision, passing, handles and three-point shooting have set him apart from many counterparts at his position, and he’s truly resurrected his standing among the top big men — and overall players — in today’s game.
Note, in particular, the Blake Griffin assists from the post to the weakside corner, where Reggie Bullock can then hit the 3. Such passes are right up LeBron's wheelhouse. pic.twitter.com/20KUGk7zFv— Positive Residual (@presidual) February 8, 2019
Griffin currently has the Pistons in the playoff hunt at ninth place in the East as he gets set to appear in his sixth All-Star game, playing for Team Giannis this Sunday in Charlotte.
Through all the injuries and playoff disappointments over the years, Blake Griffin has bounced back stronger than ever, and continues to prove to any doubters he’s still got it.
BLAKE GRIFFIN CLEARED FOR TAKEOFF pic.twitter.com/UzTaeKZKCQ— Palace Pistons (@PalaceOfPistons) February 2, 2019
Buddy Hield is probably the most underrated player in the NBA at this point. While some are beginning to chatter about his place among candidates for Most Improved Player, I’m here to tell you the award should be his running away. With all due respect to Spencer Dinwiddie, Buddy has been the lifeblood of the Sacramento Kings all season — a young team ahead of schedule with its sights on a potential playoff berth this Spring.
With multiple game-winning or go-ahead shots this season, the affable, polished Hield is the young Kings’ go-to guy down the stretch and is showing glimpses of future All-Star consideration. At 20.5 a game, Buddy leads the Kings in scoring, along with three-point shooting (45.5 percent) and free throw shooting (85.8 percent) and has been as exciting as he’s been effective in his breakout third season.
As head coach Dave Joerger has finally started giving Buddy chances at more playing time, the Bahamian Bucket Machine has delivered time and time again. Check out some of these eye-popping stats:
Buddy Hield per 36— Sovarro (@sovarro_) February 1, 2019
23.1 - 5.6 - 2.6 - .477 fg% - .458 3pt%
Klay Thompson per 36
22.9 - 4.2 - 2.1 - .462 fg% - .379 3pt%
The five most dangerous three-point threats since Jan. 1, per https://t.co/to8pzQNPtT (minimum six attempts per game): Klay Thompson (50.8%), Buddy Hield (50.6), Malik Beasley (46.5), JJ Redick (44.7), and Paul George (44.3)— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) February 10, 2019
Establishing himself as one of the premier shooters in the league, Buddy will be participating in the Three-Point Contest, as he trails only All-Stars James Harden, Stephen Curry and Paul George in total made three-point field goals this season.
Improving on every stat from last season and quickly becoming a two-way guard for one of the league’s surprise teams, Buddy is proving all the haters wrong and etching his place among the NBA’s most productive guards in just his third year. In one of his best games of the season (Jan. 19 at Detroit), Buddy lit up fellow OU great Blake Griffin’s Pistons, culminating in a game-winning three to put a stamp on an outstanding performance.
Hield finished with 18 points and six boards in the Kings 117-104 win last night over the Suns at home. With 26 games to go, Hield has helped lead the Kings into serious contention for a playoff spot. Currently sitting at ninth in the West, Sacramento heads to Denver this Wednesday.
Finally, the latest Sooner to earn a place in the NBA is electric Atlanta Hawks rookie point guard Trae Young. Last season’s NCAA leader in points and assists per game, Trae hasn’t always been consistent, but he does boast averages of 16.9 points per game (second only to Luka Doncic among rookies) along with 7.5 assists per game, which leads all rookies.
Trae Young is averaging 26.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 8.2 APG, 53.5% FG, 42.9% 3PT, 80% FT in his last 5 games— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) February 3, 2019
27 pts(9-21 FG) & 8 asts VS PHX
28 pts(9-20 FG) & 9 asts vs UTA
23 pts(7-12 FG) & 8 asts vs SAC
26 pts(10-18 FG) & 8 asts vs LAC
30 pts(11-15 FG) & 8 asts vs POR pic.twitter.com/V7BndFbiCg
Young will take part in the Mtn Dew Ice Rising Stars game on All-Star Friday night, as well as the Taco Bell Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday night. The Hawks take on the Lakers and Knicks at home on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, before heading into the season’s intermission.
Trae Young has had a busy two weeks. pic.twitter.com/HbvhdP4vNt— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) February 11, 2019
With nearly 30 games still left of the season, Trae’s already setting records in Atlanta.
Trae Young is in some Hall of Fame Company at 20 Yrs Old (Iverson/Curry 21 Years)— UniquESports + (@UniqueSportplus) February 10, 2019
With the LEAST minutes of all 6 NBA Greats, Trae Young has the
-4th most Points
-2nd most Assists
-Higher AST/To Ratio than AI/Magic
-3rd Highest 3P% pic.twitter.com/LX5KpbOnaw
His production in the stat sheet is only half the story. Trae Young has already begun establishing himself as one of the most promising leaders in the league. His game fits seamlessly with the modern NBA and has his teammates and the city of Atlanta feeling good about their future.
Trae Young 20pts 11ast in 28 minutes. He’s currently 7th in the NBA in assists. His IMPACT is bigger than any other rookie. And none of his teammates have been traded because they love playing with him. None of Steph teammates were traded either. MAGNETISM!! Chess ♟ #Yoda— Rashad Phillips (@RP3natural) February 10, 2019
Always helpful, Trae Young finds new friends and teaches them dance steps. pic.twitter.com/QfRghSZODk— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) February 11, 2019
Upcoming regular season game schedule:
Trae Young - 2/12 vs Lakers, 2/14 vs Knicks, 2/22 vs Pistons, 2/23 vs Suns