For anyone who doesn’t follow college basketball, Buddy Hield is a shooting guard for the Oklahoma Sooners, the nation’s best scorer, and a candidate for Player of the Year. Buddy Hield currently averages 26.1 points per game, while shooting 51% from the field, 52% from three, and 90% from the line.
I’ve looked at multiple NBA mock drafts, and Buddy Hield’s positioning on them varies considerably. Some have him as a lottery pick, but the majority have him as a mid-first rounder. Honestly, I can’t think of any reasons why Hield isn’t a lock to be a lottery pick. His game does have some questions, but they’re minor. One of them is that he’s somewhat stuck between being a point guard and a shooting guard, but we’ll get to that later.
For the week of January 18th, the Sooners were ranked as the AP No. 1 before their 82-77 loss to Iowa State on Monday. Currently 15-2 (4-2 in conference), ESPN ranks the Sooners number two in both RPI & BPI, analytic tools that take several factors into account. We know how great OU can play at times, and the Big 12 is ultra-competitive. CBS Sports has the Big 12 ranked 1st in conference RPI, and the conference features five top 25 teams; including three in the top 10.
Measuring 6’4.5″ and weighing 215 when measured at the 2015 Nike Skills Academy, Buddy Hield is a little short for the shooting guard position. He does, however, have a wingspan of almost 6’9″ and his 215-pound frame provides him with very nice athleticism. Hield’s body composition is similar to that of Dwyane Wade, or Tony Allen. While his other measurements (vertical, bench press, lane agility, etc.) haven’t been recorded, competing in the combine and showcasing his athleticism could bolster his stock.
As we shift over to Buddy Hield as an individual, where he separates himself from everyone else in the class is his ability to score. He’s on pace to be the only player in the last 20 seasons to average 26+ points on 50%+ shooting from the field & three, and 90%+ on the foul line. Along with his efficiency, he leads the Big 12 in a bevy of categories:
- FG made & attempted
- 3-pt FG & attempted
- 3-pt FG% & FT%
- Points & Points per game
- True Shooting Percentage
Rebounding & Playmaking
On the glass, Hield is an above-average rebounder at the guard position. Averaging 5.6 TRB/g for the season, Hield is one of 19 guards across the Power 5 conferences to average more than 5.5 boards per game. If Hield was to average that at the NBA level, he’d be one of five players to do so (Westbrook, Barton, Rondo, and Wall). His athleticism and rebounding ability are going to put a lot of pressure on NBA defenses.
Where he leaves a lot to be desired is as a passer. Hield isn’t a bad passer, nor is he a great one, but he isn’t going to wow scouts in that facet. However, scouts know that facilitating isn’t Hield’s game. When he’s on the court for the Sooners he has one thing on his mind: scoring the basketball. The numbers are reflective of that as well, as Oklahoma ranks 110th in assists, and Hield averages 2.5 per game.
Buddy Hield has all the tools to be an elite perimeter defender at the next level. He’ll have an advantage when guarding players smaller than him, but won’t be at too much of a disadvantage when matched up with bigger players. His DRtg per 100 is 97.0, which is fifth (of six) in the Big 12 among those averaging more than 30 MPG. Of those other five players, Hield’s Usage Rate (30.5) is 9.1 percentage points higher than the next closest.
While it’s not an earth-shattering number for college players, only nine players in the NBA have a DRtg less than 97. Also, note how Hield is asked to do a lot on offense and still is an active perimeter defender. Despite his lack of steal and block numbers.
Buddy Hield is an oddity. In this day and age, it’s rare to see such a talented player stay in school for all four years. He just turned 22, and for some that can be a turn-off. They’ll think that there’s no room for improvement, or that he’s used up one or two of his best years. I think they’re wrong. When I look at a four-year player like Hield, I see maturity and leadership. Along with those factors, he’s closer to hitting his prime than some others might be.
He’s a great scorer around the basket and from behind the arc; however, his mid-range game still needs work. He’s athletic and long enough to match up with almost anyone on the perimeter, and he can grab rebounds and start the break by himself.
If I’m in the front office for an NBA team, and we have a pick in the 8-14 range, I’m strongly considering Buddy Hield. If he’s on the board after the 10th pick, there’s no doubt in my mind that I would take him.