The way Chavano “Buddy” Hield was shooting the rock this season and his high volume of shots, one knew that it was just a matter of time before he took down the Sacramento Kings’ record for three-pointers in a season. That franchise record would fall on Saturday at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California.
Matched up against fellow Bahamian DeAndree Ayton and the Phoenix Suns, Hield shot a blistering 7-for-14 from downtown, and now has 245 successful three-point shots on the season. The old record of 240 was set by former Kings’ sharp shooter Peja Stojakovic, who is now an assistant general manager with Sacramento. Stojakovic’s record stood for 15 years.
Hield finished with 25 points on 9-for-20 shooting on Saturday night, leading the Kings to a 112-103 home win over the Suns. His Kings played again on Sunday, taking on LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, but the result of that game was unavailable up to press time.
“It feels good,” Hield said to ESPN. “My teammates found me in good spots. Some ones I had I wish I could get back, but it’s a part of the game. It was fun, man. Peja’s been a big part of my success this year.”
Hield’s record-setting night came just two games after he went 0-for-8 from downtown, just the fourth time this season he’s failed to connect from three-point line. In the two games since, going into last night, he shot a combined 14-for-27 from three-point land. Hield is fourth in the National Basketball Association (NBA) in three-pointers made this season, trailing just most valuable player (MVP) James Harden, of the Houston Rockets; former two-time MVP Stephen Curry, of the Golden State Warriors; and MVP candidate Paul George, of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Going into yesterday’s games, Harden led the way with 334, Curry is second at 308 and George is third at 261.
Hield, the pride of Eight Mile Rock in Grand Bahama, is also fifth in three-point shooting, connecting on 43.2 percent for the season.
“He’s having a terrific year,” Kings Head Coach Dave Joerger told ESPN. “A large part of our success has been his ability at different points in games where we’re struggling to score, he can go create his own offense — couldn’t be happier for him.”
The Kings connected on 17 three-pointers in total against the Suns on Saturday night. Harrison Barnes matched Hield for side-high honors with 25 for the Kings. He shot 10-for-17 from the floor and was 5-for-8 from distance. Marvin Bagley III had 16 points off the bench for the Kings, and Nemanja Bjelica and De’Arron Fox contributed 13 apiece.
Devin Booker led the way for the Suns with a game-high 32 points. Ayton had 19 points on 9-for-16 shooting and pulled down 11 rebounds. Troy Daniels had 16, and Richaun Holmes added 14.
Hield wasn’t the only Bahamian setting a franchise mark on Saturday, as Ayton’s double-double was his 37th of the season, tying Alvan Adams’ franchise rookie record that was set in the 1975-76 season.
Ayton is at 16.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game this season, while shooting 58.6 percent from the floor. He is the only rookie in the NBA averaging a double-double this season, and has one of the highest field goal percentages among rookies in the history of the game.
There are now less than 10 games remaining in both the Suns’ and Kings’ regular seasons this year. Going into last night, Hield was on pace to hit 279 three-point shots this season, which would be more than 100 higher than his previous career best of 176 from a year ago. To get to 300 three-point shots this season, he would have to average 5.5 per game for the remainder of the season. Just Curry and Harden, who just accomplished the mark this year, have hit more than 300 three-point shots in a season.
Hield and the Kings are at .500 basketball with a 36-36 win-loss record, five and a half games out of the final playoff spot in the west, prior to last night’s results.
Barring a miraculous finish, they will miss the playoffs. Be that as it may, Hield is having a transcendent season, certainly his best in the NBA in his brief three-year career. He is leading all third-year players in scoring, is the Kings’ leading scorer and is averaging career-high numbers almost across the board.
Earlier this season, Hield became just the fifth player in NBA history to drill more than 60 three-point shots in a single month and was just the second to do so while shooting over 50 percent from distance. At the end of the season, he will likely be in the top five in total number of three-point shots made in a season.
For the season, Hield is averaging 20.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He is shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 43.2 percent from distance — all career highs. The third-year guard is certainly in the running for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award this season, and is the only player in the class of 2016 in the NBA averaging more than 20 points per game. He was third in the NBA’s Three-Point Competition during the league’s all-star weekend this year.
The Bahamian remains focused on trying to get the Kings into the playoffs. This is the latest in a season they have been at .500 basketball or above since the 2005-06 season, which was also the last time they made the playoffs — the longest drought in the NBA.
Hield and the Kings are currently on a five-game road trip before ending the season with three of their final five at home.
Ayton and the Suns play at Utah tonight before returning home at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona, for five games. They will end the season with a two-game Texas road trip, at Houston and at Dallas.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting