Both Bahamians in the National Basketball Association (NBA) are putting up numbers worthy of all-star consideration as the league’s mid-season classic approaches.
Sacramento Kings’ guard Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield is averaging career numbers in a number of significant categories, and Phoenix Suns’ rookie center DeAndre Ayton is having an impactful first season in the NBA.
The Bahamian sharp shooter from Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama, is averaging over 20 points per game for the first time in his three-year professional career. Hield is putting up 20.5 points per game, pulling down five rebounds per game and dishing out 2.4 assists per game. He is among the league leaders in scoring, three-pointers made and three-point shooting, and he is doing it in just 31.5 minutes per game.
The minutes played is a career-high for Hield, but it is the second-lowest among the top 30 scorers in the league.
Hield is a high-volume shooter, and he is connecting. He is third in the league in three-pointers made, and third in three-point shooting among those with at least 200 attempts. Hield is shooting a career-high 44.1 percent from distance for the season, and is at 47.5 percent from the field.
So far for the new year, Hield is averaging 29.3 points per game in three games while shooting 55.6 percent from the floor and 60 percent from distance. Just recently, he was hailed as a great shooter by arguably the game’s best, Stephen Curry of the two-time NBA Champions Golden State Warriors.
“He’s a great shooter…. he’s consistently gotten better since his rookie year,” said former two-time league MVP Curry to NBC Sports. “He’s just confident. They have a lot of guys who could space the floor but Buddy obviously showed how great of a shooter he is. Yeah, he’s got it.”
Curry and Hield had a classic shootout at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, USA, on Saturday. The Warriors prevailed 127-123 as both players lit it up.
Hield exploded for a side-high 32 points while knocking down a career-high eight three-pointers, going 8-for-13. Curry was 10-for-20 from distance, and had a game-high 42. The game itself had an NBA record 41 combined three-point shots, and the Kings drilled a franchise record 20.
Curry and Hield are second and third in the NBA in three-pointers made this season, trailing just Houston’s James Harden. Reigning MVP Harden has 167, Curry is second with 148 and Hield is third at 128. Only Curry is shooting a better percentage than Hield among those with a higher volume of shots.
Not to be outdone is DeAndre Ayton – the other Bahamian in the NBA. Ayton is the only rookie in the league averaging a double-double, and has really come on strong in the last month of the season.
The Bahamian big man is averaging 16.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. He has averaged 19.75 points and 12.33 rebounds in his last nine games.
For the season, Ayton is shooting 60.6 percent from the floor – one of the highest percentages for rookies in the history of the game. He’s sixth in the league in field goal percentage this season, and 13th in rebounding. He is averaging 31.3 minutes per game as the starting center for the Suns.
This season, Ayton became just the fourth rookie in the last 36 years to score 300 or more points and pull down 200 or more rebounds in his first 20 games in the NBA, joining legends Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan, and Detroit Pistons star Blake Griffin.
The 7’1” 250-pound center has 24 double-doubles this season, and has scored 20 or more points in a season 13 times. He had a career-high of 33 points and 14 rebounds against the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets on December 29 at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
Both Hield and Ayton are in the conversation for all-star appearances, but it certainly wouldn’t be an easy selection for either player. The fans will vote for the starters and the league’s 30 head coaches will choose the reserves.
In the fan voting process, Bahamians could vote for Hield at the website NBA.com/vote or with the NBA App (available on Android and iOS). Fans can also vote through the Google Search App by searching “NBA Vote” and “NBA All-Star Vote” or simply by searching for your favorite player or team.
NBA All-Star voting is also available on the Google Assistant for the first time. Fans can vote via any Google Assistant-enabled device by saying, “Google, talk to NBA All-Star”. The Google Assistant is available on laptops, phones, speakers, tablets and other connected devices.
Voting will conclude on Monday January 21 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST). Fans could vote once each day, except on select “2-for-1” days in which they are allowed to vote twice. There are three “2-for-1” days remaining – January 10, January 11 and January 21 through all voting platforms. Fans can vote twice from 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. EST on those select days.
All-star starters and team captains will be announced live on TNT (Turner Network Television) on Thursday January 24, during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m., featuring Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith. The Eastern Conference and Western Conference all-star reserves will be announced the following week on Thursday January 31 on TNT.
The 68th NBA All-Star Game is set for Sunday February 17 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
So far, neither Hield nor Ayton is among the top 10 in fan voting. Based on the first returns that were recently released, Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar LeBron James and Milwaukee Bucks’ up-and-coming superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo lead their respective conferences. Fans account for 50 percent of the vote to determine the 10 starters for the all-star game. All current NBA players and a media panel each account for 25 percent of the vote, with every voter completing one full ballot featuring two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference.
The 2019 NBA All-Star Game will follow last year’s format – the two team captains will draft rosters from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves in each conference, making their picks regardless of conference affiliation. The captains will be the All-Star starter from each conference who receives the most fan votes in his conference.
The NBA’s All-Star game will bring together some of the most talented players in the league, and is expected to reach fans in more than 200 countries and territories in more than 40 languages. TNT will televise the game for the 17th consecutive year.