Buddy Hield had a rough month of October as a starter. Then, he moved to the bench and started playing dramatically better basketball.
The month of October was a rough time for Buddy Hield. The Sacramento Kings' starting lineup has struggled consistently throughout the season, and Buddy was a large part of that during the first month of the season. He shot miserably from the floor and the three-point line and seemed to be lost on both ends of the floor.
Then, Dave Joerger moved Buddy to the bench and everything changed. Buddy picked up his offense almost immediately and quickly became a crucial spark plug for a Kings team in desperate need of offense. Buddy's strengths and limitations would indicate that his best long-term role is as a high-scoring super sub, and he has already been highly successful in that role early in this season.
October: Starting Struggles
Buddy Hield has enough of a knack for scoring that a poor stretch of games from him could easily be excused as a slump. However, his miserable shooting numbers in October were nonetheless difficult to ignore. Buddy averaged 10.3 points per game but shot 35.4% from the floor and just 22.6% from deep during the month of October. The physicality and size of other starting shooting guards left Buddy with a difficult task in terms of creating offense for himself.
Hield did not just struggle on the offensive end, however. Buddy struggled not only to put up points on other starting two guards but also struggled to prevent them from putting up big numbers against him on defense. During the month of October, the Kings had an 87.3 Offensive Rating and an atrocious 107.8 Defensive Rating with Buddy on the floor. Given his defensive limitations, Buddy needs to score to be effective; that was certainly not the case during the first month of the season.
November: Bench Brilliance
Dave Joerger moved Buddy Hield to the bench to start the month of November, in a move that could easily have sapped Buddy of his confidence and led him into a tailspin. Instead of declining, however, Buddy was revitalized by the move to the bench and torched opposing backups throughout the month of November. After his miserable first month, Buddy averaged 13.1 points per game and shot 50% from the floor in 13 games off the bench in November. More importantly, Hield shot the lights out from beyond the arc, shooting 58.3% from deep to lead the NBA for the month of November. His confidence, shaken early in the season, reappeared in full force:
While Buddy's defensive numbers have not changed all that much (his Defensive Rating of 106.2 in November still was not particularly stellar), his offense has improved dramatically during that time. Buddy is far more successful at roasting players like Alex Abrines than he is at roasting players like Klay Thompson. While Buddy's rough seven-game start to the year could normally be chalked up to a shooting slump, the dramatic leap in his efficiency the day that he moved to the bench would certainly suggest otherwise. Buddy Hield might still be able to figure out how to be an effective start, but his contributions off the bench appear to be more valuable. He can be a valuable and vital Sixth Man for the Kings for years to come.