Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Former Sooner Buddy Hield Shooting 50 Percent on Threes in December

Every NBA rookie hears the cautionary tales, the stories about how even Hall of Fame-bound stars such as Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant struggled mightily during their initial NBA seasons. But few first-year players necessarily buy into the idea that it will happen to them.

For New Orleans lottery pick Buddy Hield, however, reality came quickly over the first five weeks of the 2016-17 regular season. The No. 6 overall draftee shot a frustrating 23.7 percent from three-point range in October and November, a far cry from his 45.7 accuracy rate as a decorated senior at the University of Oklahoma. Both from a team and individual standpoint, Hield’s early struggles were very unfamiliar, particularly for a player who was a consensus national player of the year and led the Sooners to a Final Four appearance in April.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, Hield may look back at a return to Oklahoma as a turning point in his rookie campaign. After playing only mop-up minutes in one-sided games vs. the Lakers and Clippers, on Dec. 4 at the Thunder, Hield racked up 16 points in 15 minutes, draining four three-pointers. The very next night, Pelicans second-year head coach Alvin Gentry moved Hield into the starting five, a role the former track star has taken and run with, highlighted by red-hot shooting this month. The recently-turned 23-year-old is shooting 50.0 percent from beyond the arc in December (23 of 46), a span roughly coinciding with him becoming a starter. (NBA.com)

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