The historic third-year campaign for Sacramento Kings’ shooting guard Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield came to a bittersweet end.
The Kings did not end the season with a win and they will not be taking part in the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Play-offs which tip off this coming Saturday, April 13.
However, for the Bahamian three-point marksman, a page in the NBA’s record book was written this past Wednesday night in Portland, Oregon where the Kings took on the Trailblazers in their season finale. The 6’4” guard entered that match-up tied with the Blazers’ perennial all-star point guard Damian Lillard for the most three-pointers made in their first three seasons.
Lillard, currently playing in his seventh year, set the mark at 599 at the end of his third year in the league back in 2015. Four years later, Hield has eclipsed that number with 602.
Much of Hield’s success came from the Kings’ change to a ‘run and gun’ style of play all season. Hield set the record on a three-pointer at the 9:24 mark of the opening quarter off an assist from forward Harrison Barnes, in transition.
The Kings eventually went on to lose their final game of the season, 136-131. Hield finished with just nine points on three-for-six shooting. The three made shots all came from beyond three-point arch.
The Pinedale, Grand Bahama, native earlier in the season set a new franchise milestone with the most three-pointers made in a single season by any Kings’ players. The original record of 240 was held by Peja Stojakovic (current Assistant General Manger of the Kings) before Hield surpassed that number last month. Now, at the end of a record-setting season Hield finished with a total of 278 made three-point baskets.
“It feels good,” said Hield in an interview last month after his team milestone. “My teammates found me in good spots. Some looks I had I wish I could get back but it’s a part of the game. It was fun, man. Peja’s been a big part of my success this year. He left a mark on this franchise. It’s pretty big, it’s something special. Hopefully I get to keep it for many years but there is always someone else that will come up and break records.”
This season that should make Hield a Most Improved Award candidate. He averaged 20.7 points per game on 45.8 percent shooting from the field.
Hield’s third full year in the league justified Kings’ owner Vivek Ranadive and General Manager, Vlade Divac’s high praise of the former Oklahoma Sooner, upon receiving him in a trade for then All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins during the 2016-2017 season, Hield’s rookie year. Many basketball analysts scoffed at the package deal that sent the former Kings’ big man to the New Orleans Pelicans (the team that drafted Hield that year), dubbing the Pelicans winners for adding a powerhouse, to pair with superstar power forward Anthony Davis.
Now, Cousins, currently playing for the Golden State Warriors, finds himself working his way back to an All-Star level after his achilles tendon, ruptured in January 2018 while still a member of the Pelicans. During that time Hield’s stock began to rise, giving Sacramento fans a reason to believe in a future led by the Bahamian and blooming point guard De’Aron Fox.
Hield’s place among the league’s best shooters was solidified after he received an invite to the 2019 Mountain Dew Three-Point Contest back in February during the All-Star break. Among the likes of Lillard, Warriors’ point guard Stephen Curry and eventual champion Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets, Hield’s star was bright.
Hield poured in 26 points in the opening to move on to the championship round, where he ultimately finished third behind Curry and Harris.
The Kings were on the cusp of their first play-off berth in years thanks to the improved play of Hield and the stellar sophomore season by Fox. The backcourt pairing paced the Kings to a regular season win/loss record of 39-43. The team defended home court, the Golden 1 Center, admirably with a 24-17 home stance. On the flip side, they had their troubles on the road, which resulted in a 15-26 mark in that area.
What becomes of the Kings from this point remains to be seen, however. Head coach Dave Joerger was fired by Kings’ management yesterday after leading the team to ninth place in the western conference. With a young core of players brimming with potential led by Hield and Fox, the Kings’ management hopes this past season sparks the interests of coaches and free agents ahead of the 2019-2020 season.