If there was any doubt that Chavano “Buddy” Hield had arrived among the NBA’s elite, that perception might have been erased on Saturday night, when he guided the Sacramento Kings past the Detroit Pistons.
The 26-year-old star guard from Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama, had the first buzzer-beating, game-winning shot of his brief three-year NBA career, dropping in a one-leg, three-point shot as time expired on Saturday.
The successful shot gave the Kings a 103-101 victory and stunned the Pistons at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan on Saturday.
Hield said afterward that it was something he always dreamed about as kid growing up, and he’s just happy that it came to fruition.
“I’m blessed to say I got one in the NBA at the highest level. I’m just glad that I was able to accomplish that,” said Hield to the Associated Press afterward. “It’s fun. As a kid, you always dream of hitting one of those type of shots. It’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. I tried to catch it and turn and put up the shot, but it slipped, and thankfully I was able to regain control and split three guys and put it up in the air. That was all she wrote after that.”
Just like he said, the ball seemed to slip away from Hield on the inbounds pass, but he regained control, avoided three defenders and put up the game-winning shot as the buzzer sounded. His prayers were answered and the Kings stayed very much in the playoff race in the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA) with a thrilling victory.
The Kings improved to a 24-22 win-loss record, 10th in the west, but just a half game behind the Los Angeles Clippers (24-21) in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Clippers played in San Antonio last night, but the result of that game was unavailable up to press time.
As for Hield, he proved to be elusive in more ways than one on Saturday night. His excitement carried him around the court after the game-winning shot and straight into the locker room. Hield jumped over a video camera cord and was pursued by his teammates straight into the locker room. He gave an interview from the locker room afterwards.
During the game, he was fantastic.
Hield lit up the nets for a side-high 35 points on 13-for-22 shooting. He was 7-for-9 from distance, matching his highest-ever single game percentage on that many three-point attempts. Hield had a career-high eight three-pointers earlier this month, and is shooting a blistering 56.1 percent from distance for the month. He is at 53.6 percent from the field this month.
Hield already has 46 three-point shots this month after hitting a career-high 59 in one month in December. He’s on pace to obliterate that personal record, as the Kings still have five more games this month.
Hield is averaging career-high numbers across the board, certainly in the running for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award, and quite possibly an all-star as well. He is proving that he should be in the NBA Three-Point Contest as well.
Hield is the only player in the class of 2016 in the NBA averaging more than 20 points per game and is leading the upstart Kings in scoring. He is at 20.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 31.4 minutes per game this season. He is also averaging 48.2 percent from the field and 45.6 percent from three-point land – all career highs.
The 6-foot-4, 214-pound guard is undoubtedly having the best season of his three-year career. Hield is among the league leaders in points scored, three-pointers made and three-point shooting. He has scored in double figures in 11 straight games, and has hit multiple three-point shots in each of those 11 games.
Hield is third in the league in three-pointers made behind most valuable player (MVP) James Harden, of the Houston Rockets, and two-time MVP Stephen Curry, of the Golden State Warriors. Hield is also fourth in the league in three-point percentage, but leading the way among players with at least 300 attempts. The Bahamian sharp shooter is now shooting a better percentage from distance than Curry, who is regarded as one of the best shooters in NBA history.
The Kings have won four of their last five games and five out of their last seven. This is the latest in a season they have been over .500 basketball since the 2005-06 season, which was also the last time they made the playoffs.
On Saturday night, the Pistons outscored the Kings in each of the first three quarters and had a 12-point cushion midway through the fourth.
However, the Kings kept battling back. Hield made a three-pointer with 1:11 left, to put Sacramento ahead for the first time since midway through the first quarter.
Blake Griffin, who scored a game-high 38 points, scored on the ensuing possession to put the Pistons ahead 101-100.
After another possession by the Pistons, the Kings got a chance to win it, and Hield took complete advantage. His game-winner, the first of his career, silenced the more than 15,000 in attendance.
De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley scored 14 point apiece for the Kings and Willie Cauley-Stein added 12. Luke Kennard added 19 points for the Pistons.
Detroit held Hield scoreless in the third after he had 20 points in the first half, but Hield responded with 15 in the fourth including the game winner.
Hield said that he is never satisfied with his personal play – looking to be the best that he can be on a regular basis.
He is on pace to hit 278 three-point shots this season which would be more than 100 than what he has had in any season to date.
Hield is 27th in the league in scoring, and is averaging fewer minutes than all 26 ahead of him.
Still, Hield remains out of the top 10 among Western Conference guards as far as votes are concerned for the NBA’s All-Star Game. Curry leads the way followed by Minnesota’s Derrick Rose and Harden. The Kings have started an online campaign to get both Hield and Fox into the all-star game, and Hield into the three-point competition.
Whereas the three-point competition is by invitation only, Bahamians could get online and vote Hield for the all-star game, which could be done either through the website NBA.com/vote or with the NBA App (available on Android and iOS), through the Google Search App by searching “NBA Vote” and “NBA All-Star Vote”, or simply by searching for your favorite player or team, or 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.
Today is the final day for voting as the process will conclude at 11:59 p.m. tonight. Today is also a “2-for-1” day, meaning fans can vote twice for a player today.
All-star starters and team captains will be announced live on TNT (Turner Network Television) on Thursday, 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 next week Thursday on TNT.
The 68th NBA All-Star Game is set for Sunday, February 17, at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, and will follow last year’s format in which 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 way Hield is playing right now, he’s certainly in the conversation for an all-star appearance. The fans will vote for the starters and the league’s 30 head coaches will choose the reserves.
Hield and the Kings still have 11 games to go before the all-star break. They are currently in the mix of a six-game road trip, and then will go home for six games.
The Kings are in Brooklyn, New York, and will play the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center today before moving on to play the Toronto Raptors tomorrow.