After putting together one of the best senior seasons in recent memory, former Oklahoma Sooner Buddy Hield was drafted sixth overall by the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pels finished 30-52 last season, the made a decent amount of moves during the summer, which included signing free agents Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore, and Solomon Hill.
The situation in the Big Easy, however, is far from perfect–even with Anthony Davis as the team’s star. On paper, New Orleans has the talent to compete with anyone, and their roster was headlined by Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans accompanying Davis. Holiday, however, will miss the start of next season after learning his wife needs brain surgery; as for Evans, the situation is shaky.
The former Rookie of the Year has battled injuries over the last few years and it seems like his time in NOLA is running short, despite him being on track to return next season.
With the guard spots up in the air for right now, I’m sure there are going to be tough battles during the preseason and training camp as Alvin Gentry searches for his facilitator. Hield doesn’t fit that mold, but he will get a chance to showcase himself at the off-guard position and has a legitimate chance to capitalize on his opportunity.
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According to a projected depth chart by RealGM, the Pelicans have four point guards and no one to back up Evans–Moore could potentially split time at two positions, but he’d be a better option to fill in for Holiday.
Enter Buddy Hield as the backup two.
In a Gentry system, the floor is spaced, the pace is quick, and the shots rain down in volume. Last year, the Pels finished as the ninth-best three-point shooting team at 36 percent and attempted about 86 shots a night. Hield finished his college career with a three-point percentage of 39, including a mark of 45.7 as a senior. These weren’t just catch-and-shoot threes, either, and Hield got his shot off a variety of ways.
Transition was one of them, and in the pros, Buddy Buckets can wreak havoc on the wings as defenses worry about Davis running down the middle of the floor.
If it’s not in transition, the pick-and-roll looks to be the next best way. And the Pelicans absolutely love the PnR. Out of the 30 NBA teams, the Trail Blazers, Pistons, and Lakers were the only ones to run more pick-and-rolls than the Pelicans; New Orleans was also tied for seventh in points per possession with .85, according to Synergy.
Although Hield most likely won’t be orchestrating, he will undoubtedly benefit from teams focusing on Davis and the guard who’s running it. Whether it’s Holiday, Galloway, or Moore, those three guys are respectable and will score if given the chance. That put defenders in a predicament and forces them to decide between leaving a deadeye shooter or forego helping.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference unless otherwise noted
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