Notable NBA seasons crafted by Bahamians Hield, Ayton
Chavano “Buddy” Hield and DeAndre Ayton have made a lot of observers take particular notice during the 2018-2019 National Basketball Association (NBA) season.
Klay Thompson, the noted shooting guard for the Golden State Warriors and Eric Gordon, the top notch sixth man with the Houston Rockets, are established players. With a born-Bahamian father and mother respectively, Thompson and Gordon represent the national sports brand quite well.
This season, the Bahamian flavor in the NBA became even more distinct because of the quality play of Hield and Ayton.
Hield has enjoyed a breakout season, that really should have landed him an all-star selection. He evolved into one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA. He will shatter the Sacramento Kings’ team record for three-pointers in a season. Peja Stojakovic hit 240 three-pointers during the 2003-04 season and Hield went past that mark on Saturday, pushing the number to 245. On Sunday, he dropped in five more and now has 250. With nine more games left on the regular schedule for Hield and the Kings, his total should go beyond 270.
Sitting six and a half games behind the eighth-placed San Antonio Spurs, the Kings are not likely to get into the postseason, but Hield has had a banner year. I think he is deserving of at least a spot on the All-NBA Third Team. He has a 43 percent success rate when shooting three-pointers, is 45.8 percent from the field totally, and shoots 87.9 percent from the free throw line. Hield averages 20.9 points per game, and rebounds the ball and dishes out assists at 5.2 and 2.5 clips respectively.
He became an authentic star this season.
As for Ayton, he should make the NBA All-Rookie First Team. He is about to become entrenched as the finest double-doubles rookie player the Phoenix Suns ever placed on the court, surpassing Alvin Adams. The Suns are cemented in last place in the Western Conference of the NBA with a 17-57 win-loss record as of press time for this column, but Ayton has been a bright light.
Luka Doncic, the outstanding guard-small forward swingman for the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks’ guard Trae Young are the lead contenders for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award, but Ayton has been notable as well despite playing in a small market and with a team that will not likely win 20 games this season.
Going forward, it figures that Hield, Ayton, Thompson and Gordon will continue to ensure that The Bahamas has a strong NBA connection. We are far removed from that early, very small Bahamian professional basketball resume. In 1972, the old American Basketball Association (ABA) Dallas Chaparrals drafted Sterling Quant out of Central State University. He never played however, opting to return home to go into a banking career. Six years later, Mychal Thompson (Klay’s father) became a NBA mainstay player. So, did Rick Fox, later on. Ian Lockhart and Dexter Cambridge had brief stints in the NBA.
The present number of four Bahamian-rooted players performing in the NBA at the same time, is huge for the national sports brand.
Continued best wishes to Hield, Ayton, Thompson and Gordon!
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