Over the next couple of days I’ll be breaking down the scouting report for guys entering the NBA Draft. We’ll avoid guys like Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram since we know who they are. If there’s someone specific you want let me know @barstoolreags. All video clips are courtesy of Synergy and/or YouTube. There will be a lot of analytical stats, so yeah I know, nerd.
Today we’ll look at:
Buddy Hield – Oklahoma
6’5”, 215 lbs, 22 years old
Projected: No. 6 (DraftExpress) No. 3 (NBADraft)
Compared to: CJ McCollum/James Harden (NBA Draft)
My Comparison: Bradley Beal
Background: There was no one more fun to watch in college basketball last year than Buddy. He was the Player of the Year by most accounts and gave us the first must-watch guy since Jimmer in terms of shooting. He was a volume shooter, but his average was incredibly high. He averaged 25 ppg, 5.7 rpg and shot 46% from 3 on nearly 9 attempts per game. Not bad for a kid who averaged 8 ppg as a freshman.
Strengths: Sort of just touched on it but the obvious strength is his shooting and scoring ability. Last year he graded out as excellent on nearly every offensive set by Synergy and his worst grade was ‘good’ on cuts and hand offs.
What I like most about his shot, despite it being fairly a flat-footed jumper – is his footwork to get his feet set. On top of getting his feet set, he excels at getting the ball out of his fast. He has a quick trigger, which greatly benefits him in the transition game and off a shoot-and-catch.
On this transition play here, Hield runs to the wing, adjusting his spot on the wing as the ball gets in the lane. Before the pass is even made you see him starting to set his feet, pointed at the rim. By the time he gets the ball he’s bringing it up into his shooting motion immediately and of course there’s a great follow through. This is something you’ll see teams run for him in transition and secondary transition, especially if you’re playing with a guard like Ricky Rubio.
Again, in the secondary transition here, Hield catches the ball as he comes running across the top of the key. He sets his defender up with a cross over, going to his left hand, before pulling back for the three. Again, off the dribble watch how his feet get set quick and how fast he gets into his shooting motion. We’ll touch on his improved ball handling in a second, but this is important to see how he creates his own shot in the secondary transition.
Where Buddy has really improved his game, allowing him to be a top-5 pick, is his play out of the isolation. He graded in the 94th percentile in the country last year in these sets, using his fade, hesitation dribble and crossover to get buckets. Look at this play here, don’t worry so much about the finish but his ability to get there. He gets the ball on the wing and immediately clears out his side of the floor (hello defensive 3 seconds in the NBA with this) and immediately sets up two somewhat hesitation dribbles. As he runs out of space, he goes to a spin move and what I like about this shot is it shows he can finish with creativity – similar to Kris Dunn at the rim. Hield uses these push shots and floaters to his advantage.
Weaknesses: Buddy Hield needs to work on taking care of the ball. That’s step number one. Too many times last year he’d try to force the issue against pressure and turn the ball over dribbling it up the court. He’s improved his handle tremendously, but still struggles when he’s forced to use it more than just in the half court. He needs to work that hesitation dribble in in the back court and become more of a combo guard, especially with his size. At 6’5” he’s slightly undersized for a 2-guard but nothing of serious concern.
Much like I said about Dunn, the other weakness Hield has is something he can’t change and that’s his age. He’s already 22 years old and turns 23 in December. While he’s fairly comparable to Jamal Murray, why wouldn’t a team opt to take the 19 year old and buy themselves three years? Now, Hield has gone through his growth process, but being 22 could scare a couple teams off.
Along with taking care of the ball with his handle, he needs to improve his passing. For as good as he is scoring out of the isolation, he rated as a poor player passing when the defense committed to him.
Draft Stock: It’s hard to see Hield falling past No. 6, possibly even No. 5 to Minnesota as long as there aren’t any trades. The one benefit he has are teams like the Celtics and Timberwolves are set up with guys where he doesn’t have to be the star. He can step in and help right away with his shooting and stronger perimeter defense. If he goes to the Timberwolves they get a shooter in the backcourt to play with Ricky Rubio and/or Zach LaVine and another strong defender, which Thibs loves.
Projection: I like Hield as a prospect in this draft. I think he’ll end up being one of the five best players, so there’s no stretch for him to go as high as No. 3. With the emphasis on the 3-point shot now, Hield brings something special right away, especially if he shoots 45% or so from beyond the arc.
I see a lot of Beal in his game in the sense that he’s a lights out shooter that is improving his attacking game. Hield originally was thought of as just a spot-up shooter when he was at Oklahoma, but has since started taking the ball to the rim as we demonstrated earlier. If he can continue to do that he’ll be just fine in the pros. I don’t think he’s going to be a star at the NBA level, but he’ll be a rotation guy for a playoff team no problem. Look at the evolution of JJ Redick, who is no longer just a shooter, Hield can have and should have something similar to that.
Podcast: We sat down last night and talked about the NBA Draft, specifically lazy draft day comparisons. Last year Jalen Rose got roasted by NBA guys for comparing lefties to only lefties, white guys to white guys, etc. So, we started listing some of our favorites: i.e. Henry Ellenson is Brian Cardinal or Troy Murphy. Tweet me your best lazy draft comparisons @barstoolreags. Also, there was an editing problem so fast forward the first 7 minutes and the show will start.