Thursday, June 23, 2016

The "Upside" of Buddy Hield

The Case for Buddy

The 2016 NBA Draft is just hours away and Danny Ainge is working relentlessly to trade away the #3 overall pick.  If trading away draft picks is what it takes to bring an All-Star like Jimmy Butler to Boston, then you can’t really blame Ainge for doing his job.  

With that being said, Buddy Hield was both the best player and best scorer in college basketball this season.  These terms are not always synonymous, but they are in Hield’s case as he won the Wooden Award for Most Outstanding Player and led the NCAA with 25 points per game.  
*Technically Hield was #2 in scoring behind James Daniel, the 5’11’’ guard who launched 19+ shots per game for the 12-20 Howard Bison.

Many people do not realize that Hield grew up in the Bahaman Islands, staying out late every night to shoot basketballs at a “hollowed-out milk crate he'd fashioned into a hoop for so many hours his mother would literally come in the dark to chase him home.”

His identity is crafted from a unique love for the game of basketball.  This deeply-rooted connection helped him become the top-ranked middle schooler in the Bahamas, get recruited to a prep school in Kansas, develop into a college basketball star at Oklahoma, and finally enter tonight’s draft as one of the best young players in the world.

Not every Wooden Award Winner (see, Jimmer Fredette) achieves NBA stardom, but it is considerably rare for a shooting guard to impact the game so significantly at the college level that he actually wins the prestigious award.  The last three shooting guards to win are J.J. Redick (2006), Michael Jordan (1984), and Ainge (1981).  
*Hall of Famer Chris Mullin also won in 1985, but he split minutes at small forward.