Buddy Hield Is Becoming a Much Better Player With the Kings

Since the trade between the Pelicans and the Kings, Hield has improved significantly. What has changed?

A little over a month ago, the Sacramento Kings shocked the sports world by trading star center DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Buddy Hield.

The deal has been heavily criticized by just about everybody, the assumption being that the Kings should have gotten much more in return for the star big man.

Making matters even worse, Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé came out and compared Hield to Stephen Curry. Clearly, he is not at that level and may very well never get close to reaching MVP status, but can he be a great young player? All the signs so far have pointed to an emphatic "yes."

Maybe all Hield needed was a team that fully believed in his scoring abilities. And the Kings clearly do believe in him.

Sacramento has given him more opportunity to be successful, and thus far, he has thrived in his new role with his new team.

What Do the Numbers Say?

Let's start with some splits for Hield.

Statistical CategoryNew Orleans PelicansSacramento Kings
Points Per Game8.614.4
Effective Field Goal Percentage48.659.7
Field Goal Percentage39.249.3
Field Goals Attempted8.310.9
Minutes Per Game20.428.2
Player Efficiency Rating9.915.3
Usage Percentage20.422.0

Hield is averaging more points with his new team while shooting much more efficiently. While his usage has seen a slight increase, his minutes are also up as well as his scoring numbers. His true shooting percentage is also up from 50.2% with the Pelicans to 62.0% with the Kings.

According to Basketball-Reference, Buddy Hield is playing 76% of his minutes at the shooting guard position, which is his natural position.

With the Pelicans, he was estimated to have played 71% and 28% of his minutes at shooting guard and small forward, respectively. But with the Kings, those numbers are 76% and 21%, respectively.

It may not seem like a big difference, but at 6'4'' and weighing 214 pounds, Hield is much more suited for the shooting guard position.

Remarkably, through 57 games with the Pelicans, Hield only drew 15 total shooting fouls, but through 20 games with the Pelicans, Hield has already drawn 9 shooting fouls, a sign that he's being much more aggressive on offense.

While all these numbers have been good so far, Hield will have to cut his turnovers down. His turnover percentage is up from 9.0% to 15.4% with his new team, a clear result of having the ball in his hands more and being asked to be the main scorer for the Kings.

Deficiencies on Defense

While Hield has grown immensely as a scorer in his limited time with the Kings, his main problem has been on the defensive side. On the season in terms of defensive rating, Hield ranks 281st in the entire NBA with a 107.1 defensive rating.

Opponents were shooting 51.6% from the field and 42.0% from the three-point line when guarded by Hield when he was with the Pelicans. Hield ranked 316th and 198th in opponent field goal percentage and three-point percentage in the entire NBA.

During his time so far with the Kings, Hield has improved those numbers to 40.6% and a 29.6% from the field and three-point line respectively. If Hield can keep improving on these numbers, he will have a very solid NBA career.

The Future

Hield is coming off a career-high 22 points where he shot 9 of 15 from the field and 4 of 6 from three-point territory in a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Getting traded from the Pelicans to the Kings was clearly the best thing that could have happened to Buddy Hield.

He is now with an organization that is in full rebuild mode, and they truly believe in him and will give him every opportunity to be successful.