Sports

Hield performs under pressure

Bahamian guard shakes trade and reserve role concerns; Kings win

The Sacramento Kings had a perfect preseason, and Bahamian Chavano “Buddy” Hield ended it with a respectable performance, shooting 4-for-10 from the field and 3-for-8 from deep for 13 points off the bench. He added six rebounds and three assists.

The Kings defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, 116-112, at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, finishing the 2021-2022 National Basketball Association (NBA) preseason with a perfect 4-0 win/loss record, while the Lakers ended up winless at 0-6.

The Kings will open their regular season on Wednesday on the road, taking on the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon.

As it relates to Hield, the Bahamian has been the focal point of trade rumors the last two seasons, and comes into this season as the likely sixth man off the bench for the Kings. Despite scoring in excess of 16 points per game while shooting over 40 percent from the field and 39 percent from deep in each of the last three seasons, it appears the Kings head coach Luke Walton will use Hield primarily off the bench this season.

It will be the first reserve role for the 28-year-old guard since his second season in the league. He’s started 197 of 225 games since. Tyrese Haliburton had a strong rookie campaign, finishing third in the Kia NBA Rookie of the Year, and it is expected that Walton would insert him in the starting line-up, pairing him up with De’Aaron Fox who has developed into a bonafide star.

As for Hield, the 6’4” shooting guard from Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama, continues to produce year in and year out.

The Bahamian came off the bench in each of the three preseason games he played in, and still put up respectable numbers. Hield averaged 12.67 points, five rebounds and 3.33 assists in limited minutes this preseason.

In his final preseason game, Hield got about 24 and a half minutes of playing time. He came on for Haliburton at the 7:03 mark of the first quarter, and immediately got in on the action. Hield hit one of his three three-point attempts in the first quarter, and buried both free shots, to end the first 12 minutes of play with five points. The Kings came out of the game strong, knocking down 48 percent of their shots and taking a 35-23 lead after one.

Hield started the second quarter on the bench but came on at the 7:11 mark and again got into the offensive flow of the game. Hield went on to knock down two of his four shot attempts in that quarter, including two of three from deep. He finished the quarter with six points, and by the half, he was the top scorer off the bench for the Kings with 11 points.

The Lakers exploded for 42 points in the second quarter, and cut into the double-digit lead, but the Kings still led 71-65 at the half.

Hield took just three shots in the second half and finished with just two points after the break.

The Kings remained in control for much of the third quarter and almost all of the fourth. They led 92-87 after three and surrendered the lead just briefly in the fourth before regaining it and dictating the pace of the game in the final minutes. The Kings sealed the win with a floating jumper from Richaun Holmes with 1:39 remaining, giving them a 116-1-8 lead.

The lakers managed just four points, on two shots from Trevelin Queen, after that.

Hield remains one of the more feared three-point shooters in the league. Hield won the MTN Dew Three-Point Competition during the league’s all-star weekend, and has shot 39 percent or better from three-point land in each year he has been in Sacramento.

Hield has finished in the top five in three-pointers made in each of the past three seasons – second in the last two. Last year, he broke his own franchise record with 282 made three-pointers. Hield is the fastest in NBA history to 1,000 made three-pointers and is gradually creeping up on the all-time list.

He has 1,155 made three-pointers in his five-year career – 84th on the all-time list in the NBA. He is on pace to crack the top 50 by the end of the year.

The Kings might have had an unblemished record in the preseason, but their challenge will come with the regular season tips-off this week. The Kings are trying to end the longest playoff drought in the NBA – 15 straight seasons.

As mentioned, they open the season on the road against the Blazers on Wednesday.

Fellow Bahamian DeAndre Ayton and the Phoenix Suns will welcome the Denver Nuggets to the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, for their season opener on Wednesday. That game will get underway at 10 p.m. The other Bahamian in the NBA, Kai Jones, will suit up for the Charlotte Hornets when they host the Indiana Pacers at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Wednesday. That game will get underway at 7 p.m.

The 2021-2022 NBA season gets underway on Tuesday with a double-header on TNT.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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