The two most productive basketball players from The Bahamas, and arguably in the Caribbean region, at this moment, had career nights in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as the season nears its midway point in terns of games played.
Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield, the third-year shooting guard of the Sacramento Kings, had his gun stuck on automatic on Wednesday night, dropping in a career-high 37 points, albeit in a loss to the Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was 11-for-25 from the field and 7-for-14 from distance for his 37 points, but the Kings lost, 132-113, at home – the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, USA. The seven three-pointers made also matched a career high, and he added six rebounds, three assists and two steals. However, the Kings dropped their second straight as Paul George exploded for 43 points and added 12 rebounds and seven assists, and Wilson had an impressive triple-double with 19 points, 17 assists and 11 rebounds. Exciting point guard De’Aaron Fox added 28 points and 12 assists for the Kings.
With the loss, the Kings fell to a 16-15 win-loss record and are now tied for 10th in the NBA’s Western Conference. Hield’s previous career-high was 30 points which came in a 129-104 win for the Kings over the Phoenix Suns in Hield’s rookie season. The Bahamian sharp shooter from Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama, who celebrated his 25th birthday on Monday, is enjoying the best stretch of his career. He has scored over 20 points in five straight games and is averaging career-highs in points, rebounds and assists, posting numbers of 19.9, 5.0 and 2.5 respectively. Hield is also having his best shooting season – posting career-highs of 47.9 percent from the field and 43.3 percent from distance. He leads the Kings in scoring.
DeAndre Ayton was equally as impressive on Wednesday night as he helped the Suns record a major upset victory over the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
Ayton had a monster game with 23 points on 10-for-14 shooting and matched a career-high in rebounds with 18. Ayton was one of three starters over 20 points for the Suns as they shocked the Celtics, 111-103. Devin Booker led them with 25 points, eight assists and five rebounds and TJ Warren added 21 points, five rebounds and two steals.
Kyrie Irving paced the Celtics with 29 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and four steals. Jayson Tatum added 18 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
The Bahamian big man continues to average a double-double on the season – the only rookie in the league to do so, posting numbers of 16 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per game.
He has managed to join elite company this season as he is 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.
Ayton has scored over 20 points in two straight games, and the Suns have won four straight but still bring up the rear in the NBA’s Western Conference with an 8-24 win-loss record. Since coming off the bench in a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on December 6 – his only action as a role player this season – Ayton has seen his numbers increase.
He remains second on the NBA’s Kia Rookie Ladder behind Dallas’ Luka Doncic.
In the league, Hield leads all third-year players in scoring, three pointers made and three-point shooting among those with at least 100 attempts. He has started every game at two-guard for the Kings this season and is averaging a career-high 30.8 minutes per game.
Ayton, just 20, is shooting 58.9 percent from the field and is averaging 30.6 minutes per game. The 7’1”, 250-pound center leads the Suns in rebounding and field goal percentage among those with at least 100 attempts, is third in scoring and third in assists. He is the only player on the team averaging a double-double. Ayton leads all rookies in rebounding and field goal percentage among those with at least 200 attempts.
Hield and the Kings host the Memphis Grizzlies tonight and Hield’s former team, the New Orleans Pelicans, on Sunday.
Ayton and the Suns continue their four-game eastern road trip when they take on the Washington Wizards on Saturday and travel to Brooklyn, New York, to play the suddenly torrid Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.