Sacramento Kings shooting guard Buddy Hield was indeed one of the revelations of last season. He seemed to have come out of nowhere to lead the Kings to a tremendous campaign, wherein they would eventually finish ninth overall in a ruthless Western Conference.
As the playoffs drew nearer, though, Hield and company would ultimately miss out on a potential postseason run, as they finished a full nine games behind the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers.
It was a formidable effort nonetheless, with the Kings finishing ahead of the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves in the finals standings, and there is no question that Hield played a huge role in his team’s success last season.
The 6-foot-4 guard will now be entering his fourth season in the league, and following a memorable breakout campaign last term, the expectations are high for the former sixth overall pick.
Here are three bold predictions on Hield’s 2019-20 season, and ultimately, the type of effect it will have on the Kings in general.
3. More of the Same?
Last season, Hield notched across the board career highs, as he averaged 20.7 points (on 45.8 percent shooting), 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.4 blocks in 31.9 minutes per contest. Even more impressive is the fact that he drained 3.4 three-pointers per contest on a 42.7-percent clip.
This coming season, we do expect more of the same for Hield. As a matter of fact, there is some belief that he hasn’t even reached his peak. In this respect, we predict that he will not only match his scoring output next season, but in fact, exceed 22 points per ballgame.
There will be some adjustments for the Kings with new head coach Luke Walton now at the helm, but it is highly likely that the former Lakers shot-caller will maintain Hield’s status as the team’s primary option on offense. Buddy attempted 16.6 shots per game last season, and we expect him to take a few more attempts this coming year.
This might have an adverse effect on his efficiency, but considering how he shot a very impressive 45.8 percent last season, his shooting will still remain to be relatively efficient this year.
2. All-Star Level?
What makes Hield an elite scoring guard is his ability to make shots from beyond the arc at a ridiculous rate.
It would not be surprising if he is able to further increase his three-pointers per game this coming season, but it is unlikely that he will come close to Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, who will probably be connecting on around five treys per game yet again this campaign.
Moreover, Hield is a very effective rebounder from the guard position. He grabbed 5.0 boards per contest last season, and we expect him to hover within this range again in his fourth year.
Now, will this be enough for a call-up to the All-Star squad? Probably not. Hield quietly torched the league last season, and while we expect him to make much more noise this year, an All-Star selection is probably not going to happen. Well at least not yet.
This might be something Hield might achieve in the future, but we don’t see this happening in 2019-20.
Finally, the big question is this: by taking his game to the next level, will Hield be able to lead his team to the postseason? Again, we say that this isn’t looking like a real possibility for Hield and the Kings this coming year.
Similar to their 2018-19 run, Sacramento will likely be hovering just below the eighth spot this season. They’re going to be an even better team this year, but the bad news for them is that they’re playing in the West.
Teams like the San Antonio Spurs and even the Warriors are not guaranteed to make the cut this year, which speaks volumes of the level of competition in the conference. This makes things even tougher for the Kings. Hield and company might not make it this season, but who knows, maybe they’re a year or so away from re-entering the postseason festivities.
All in all, it’s going to be a good year for Hield next season. So much so, that he might be in for quite a hefty payday in the offseason once his rookie-scale contract expires. Next summer’s free agency class is not very deep, which makes Hield one of the most valuable potential free agents.
Buddy is the real thing, and last season was by no means a one-hit wonder.
We fully expect him to remain relevant in the league for many years to come.