20Q | Articles | Numbers

20Q: How can Buddy Hield return to form?

The sharpshooting shooting guard needs to get back to his 2018-2019 self.

The 2019 season wasn't exactly kind to Buddy Hield. After earning his way to fringe All-Star status under Dave Joerger, Hield struggled mightily last year, as just about every single one of his stats, both basic and advanced, tanked to rookie-year levels.

Metric 18-19 19-20 Diff
PPG 20.7 19.2 -1.5
RPG 5 4.6 -0.4
APG 3 2.5 0.5
FG% 45.8% 42.9% -2.9%
3P% 42.7% 39.4% -3.3%
eFG% 56% 54.5% -1.5%
TS% 58.7% 56.6% -2.1%
Win Shares 5.9 3 -2.9
Plus/Minus 0 -106 -106

Those decreases don't seem all that insane at first glance - a 1.5 point per game differential isn't cause for panic on its own, but Hield's performance gap was far worse than raw numbers indicate. He didn't play at the same level or offer the same level of impact on either end of the floor.

One of the primary factors that influenced Buddy's drop in production was his offensive role in Luke Walton's scheme. It's difficult to determine who was at fault for Hield's transition from JJ Redick copycat to Zach LaVine wannabe, as Buddy has always wanted to do more with the ball and Walton seemed to push him toward that assignment, but the result was poor regardless of who was to blame.

Although Hield can operate as a one-on-one scorer in the midrange on occasion, his miscasting as a primary initiator hurt not only his individual numbers, but also the team's performance as a whole last year. During the 2018-2019 campaign, Buddy served as the ball-handler in the pick-and-roll just 16.4% of the time, in line with other combo guard such as Eric Gordon (17.1%), Gary Harris (16.1%), and Tim Hardaway Jr. (15.6%) His usage was just enough to give him a taste of point guard duties without compromising the integrity of the team's offensive game plan.

Under Luke Walton, Hield was tasked to run the offense far more often, as he ran the pick-and-roll over 26% of the time, an increase of about two possesions per game. That skyrocketing usage pushed him into an entirely new category of ball-handlers, putting him next to players like LeBron James (27.3%), Devin Booker (27.2%), Lonzo Ball (26.4%), and Jayson Tatum (25.5%). And although Hield wasn't terrible in the pick-and-roll from a league-wide, points per possesion perspective, landing in the 63rd percentile, he was turnover prone, losing the ball almost 15% of the time. Even more importantly, he was frequently removed from his most efficient position: a sniper from long range, an area in which he placed in the 93rd percentile. The adjustment was akin to throwing De'Aaron Fox out on the court as a catch-and-shoot three-point specialist, rather than allowing him to penetrate the paint and attack opposing defenses.

Of course, those increased pick-and-roll possesions had to come from somewhere, as neither Hield's minutes nor overall usage changed dramatically, and this is where Luke Walton's issues evolve from player-centric to team-wide. Last year, the Kings ran in transition 15.3% of the time, a reduction of almost 5% from the previous season. In an unsurprising twist, Hield's numbers are reflective of that change, as over 26% of his possessions came in transition in 2018, with that number plumetting to 18% in 2019, an almost exact reversal of his pick-and-roll usage from season to season. Buddy is at his best when sprinting down the court and launching three-pointers in the open court, rather than being confined to a plodding half-court game.

Outside of Luke Walton's foolishness with Hield's role, the other important factor in Buddy's return to positive play is his own, individual performance. That may seem like an extremely basic solution for a complex problem, but the truth of the matter is that there were many nights in which Hield simply didn't perform at an acceptable level, regardless of role. When De'Aaron Fox went down, Hield didn't exactly step up.

The entire reason that the Kings signed Buddy to such a massive contract extension was his otherworldly shot-making, and his jumper wasn't as on point last season. Overall, his three-point percentage dipped by 3%, shifting from world class to above-average, and the biggest decrease was found in his catch-and-shoot marksmanship, a facet of his game not at all affected by his changed role. In 2019, he sunk only 41% of his attempts, compared to 46% in the previous season, decreasing his effective field goal from 67% to 60.5%. The Kings can't afford to pay Hield to be pretty good; his shooting must be the elite of the elite.

Many factors will play into whether or not Buddy Heild will be able to return to his 2019 from next season, but it's beyond important that Luke Walton shifts Hield's role back to that of a supporting character and shooter, rather than that of a primary intiatior. From Buddy's perspective, he must execute on a higher level, especially as Sacramento's primary threat from beyond the arc. If those two factors can come together, there's no reason that Hield can't return to some form of his 2018-2019 self.

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SierraSpartan
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December 8, 2020 9:24 am

Quick answer: Don’t try to dribble the fuckin’ ball.

cbrody
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December 8, 2020 10:04 am
Reply to  SierraSpartan

And like that you are more qualified to run this team. How’s 4 mill a year sound?

Rosevillain
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December 8, 2020 12:11 pm
Reply to  cbrody

Are we sure he’d do worse than the worst playoff futility organization in the history of the NBA? Bet he would’ve drafted Doncic.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rosevillain
SierraSpartan
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December 8, 2020 1:47 pm
Reply to  cbrody

I’d take you up on it, but my current gig’s a lot more solid, has better benefits, and I don’t have either Vivek or Spawn second-guessing my every move.

SacReligious
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December 8, 2020 11:35 am
Reply to  SierraSpartan

Or pass it…

Kosta
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December 8, 2020 2:36 pm
Reply to  SacReligious

Whoever is sitting in the 7th row and catches that pass, shoot it!

TheKingsGuard
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December 8, 2020 9:30 am

Let Buddy be (efficient) Buddy. Don’t put a round peg into a square hole. A playmaker he is not. A shotmaker, he is.

ZillersCat
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December 8, 2020 9:33 am
Reply to  TheKingsGuard

Hold my beer and watch this..
comment image

Last edited 1 year ago by ZillersCat
Kingsguru21
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December 8, 2020 9:37 am

Some Buddy splits:

10/23 to 11/8 (with Fox): ORtg: 109.4 DRtg: 118.4 Ast%: 8.1% TOV%: 13.4% USG% 26.4% TS%: 54.8%. Team Pace: 99.22

11/9 to 12/15 (without Fox): ORtg: 107.6 DRtg: 105.2 Ast% 16.3% TOV%: 8.9% USG%: 27.8% TS% 56.1% Team Pace: 96.68

12/17 to 1/22 (with Fox): ORtg: 107.1 DRtg: 117.6 Ast% 16.1% TOV%: 11.1% USG%: 23.9 % TS%: 49.9% Team Pace: 100.48

1/24 to 3/08 (off bench): ORtg: 112.7 DRtg: 107.9 Ast%: 17.2% TOV%: 9.2% USG%: 27.1% TS%: 64.1% Team Pace: 99.9

What this tells me is that Buddy has to learn how to play with De’Aaron better (and vice versa), and the team has to speed up and play in the half court less. Which also means playing better defense….. and learning how to score in the half court, too. Also, staggering Buddy and De’Aaron in substitution patterns would go a long way.

In other words, same as it ever was. These arent really new problems, but figuring out how to play fast against everyone is an ever evolving process. I doubt the Kings do it this year, but maybe they can.

That said, Buddy needs to pick it up on D. De’Aaron too. They aren’t a perfect defensive pairing but they need to perform better than they have. Pretty simple stuff, really.

RikSmits
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December 8, 2020 11:55 am
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Great stuff.

Shawn.DC
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December 9, 2020 2:03 am
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Fox was just terrible on defense last year. I wondered if his huge jump in usage on Offense just left him too tired to play defense on the level the Kings needed him to.

nonstripedzebra
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December 8, 2020 9:38 am

Excellent Piece by Maxwell. I assume if the pace is being reinstated, many of the past percentages will be able to be found again. As this piece points out though, the increase of usage seemed too much a jump considering the turnovers, while the elevated role player not clearly buildable on, or enough from his own estimations without some assurances in self creation.

I think it isn’t so black and white. Buddy should accept that his aspirations can be achievable by admitting his ancillary nature. The clearest of which in his counting stats is learning to draw some fouls, especially if transition will be more in play. And a lot of that can be achievable in smart cutting, jumping into contact from fakes etc. Things that might also see him maximize his gravity as a threat. Impact that might not show up on his stat line but in on-off metrics and cut what will always be defensive doubts.

Its possible for him to be a very unique player, but considering his age and relative unchanged numbers I think it more likely he will be very comparable to the 18 19 guards mentioned than anything else much greater. An improvement from last years woes, but an outcome he’d be overpaid for. A factor that might make his trade hopes contentious. For both his and our sakes I hope that doesn’t end up the case. It’s a huge year for his career.

andy_sims
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December 8, 2020 11:30 am

I think that you’re right, the faster they play, the better Hield will perform. Purposely allowing defenses to set up in the half-court impacted Buddy’s opportunities to run himself open.

Honestly, I don’t know how fucking dumb one has to be to look at the team in ’18-’19 and not try to expand on the scheme, and instead, limit your team’s single largest advantage.

But alas, here we are again. I hope the leash that McNair has on Lose Walton is no longer than my thumb.

RobHessing
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December 8, 2020 9:54 am

I really liked 18-19 Buddy. A lot. Hope to see that guy again.

RORDOG
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December 8, 2020 10:21 am

One thing I’ll be interested to see is how much of the scheme last season was “Luke’s scheme?” Igor was the offensive coordinator last season. I’m not going to pretend like I have a deep understanding of Igor’s preferred offensive sets. I can imagine Buddy being the type of player that would struggle playing in european style offense that requires players players to be more multidimensional.

And that kinda leads me to my other point. I think Buddy can do a lot more with the ball in his hands…as a sixth man. And that’s kind of the dilemma with him: Does he provide more value as a floor spacer with the starters, or the featured guy off the bench? My gut tells me that this team needs him to stay as sixth man. The team just seems to play better when they minimize the amount of time that Fox shares the floor with Buddy. It’s mostly on the defensive end, but it’s not like the offense is super efficient when they share the court though.

rff
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December 8, 2020 10:27 am
Reply to  RORDOG

I always hoped last year that Bobby Jackson would get in Buddy’s ear and convince Buddy there’s no shame coming off the bench as the sixth man. If Buddy would accept the sixth man role and Walton used him correctly Buddy could be a sixth man of the year candidate.

Kingsguru21
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December 8, 2020 11:03 am
Reply to  RORDOG

Stop copying me.

RORDOG
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December 8, 2020 11:09 am
Reply to  Kingsguru21

I take a long time to write okay!

Kingsguru21
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December 8, 2020 11:26 am
Reply to  RORDOG

Details are stupid.

andy_sims
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December 8, 2020 11:36 am
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Could you elaborate on that?

Kingsguru21
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December 8, 2020 12:40 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Haven’t I explained this to you before?

andy_sims
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December 8, 2020 11:35 am
Reply to  RORDOG

I’d guess that Hield starts and gets the chance to show that he’s earned it, or a good offer comes in. We all know that when he’s used properly, that he’s absolutely elite on the offensive end. Haliburton doesn’t need to start right away, and I’d guess that his average minutes will ramp up pretty quickly. His opportunities to run the show with the second unit will be plentiful.

If it turns out that Tyrese becomes a natural fit, and Hield reverts to the mean, you could do a lot worse than having that rotation, or play all three when playing small. Buddy isn’t part of the long-term plan, but it’s not the end of the world if he’s still in Sacramento next season.

RORDOG
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December 8, 2020 12:17 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

The problem is that this has never translated to even above average team offense:

We all know that when he’s used properly, that he’s absolutely elite on the offensive end.

In 18-19, the their ORtg when Buddy was on the floor was 109.4. That’s basically the same efficiency as the team with the 18th best ORtg that season (Indy). In 19-20, the Ortg with Buddy on the floor was 108.9. That would’ve been the 20th best ORtg last season.

BestHyperboleEver
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December 8, 2020 12:24 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

Yeah, I think we’ve managed to really romanticize the 2018-19 season. They were more fun to watch, but by the numbers they weren’t meaningfully better than the 19-20 team.

Shawn.DC
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December 9, 2020 2:07 am

Kings fans tend to romanticize things. Case in point, Harry Giles. Outside of passing, and a midrange jumper he was virtually unplayable last season and people were still clamoring to have him back.

andy_sims
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December 8, 2020 1:16 pm
Reply to  RORDOG

It’s the “their” in your explanation that’s problematic. In the same way that point guards get no assists for wide open shots that teammates miss after being set up, a player’s ORtg is impacted by what his teammates do or don’t do.

He ran a lot of minutes with Bobo, Shumpert, Giles, and Yogi (not all together, of course), all of whom weren’t exactly killing it, ORtg-wise.

I get that statistics are all we have, and for this one, more is better, but I don’t think that the excision of one player’s numbers provide enough information without a broader context that I’m not nearly savvy enough to provide.

kings4ever
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December 8, 2020 2:19 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Exactly.

The team R-Dog is citing had Willie starting at center, a fraud of a player in my book , and this has been validated by how his career has played out since he left us. At the same time we had a gaping hole at the 3 (before Barnes), Fox was still “wet behind the ears”. Of course that team was going to sputter at average or worse. You had Buddy trying to do more than maybe his talent dictates to compensate for the holes elsewhere.

It is important for the team to run high pick and roll. Especially with Buddy you don’t want him on an island where he shows the ball overdribble and gets stripped. In general Fox and Buddy have not had good pick and roll centers (Willie, Harry, Koufos). Willie could roll but not pick, too thin and too unwilling to absorb contact. We didn’t even have a good pick and pop center with Dedmon.

A lack of a good high pick and roll player (before Len and Holmes), also due to the absence of Bagley, and lack of passing along front line , plus some rotational players who had no business being in a rotation are variables that factor into our meddling offense before you get to Buddy and his flaws.

Barnes is suboptimal as a wing player with Buddy because neither are creative passers or shot creators for others. It is conventional to analyze whether a backcourt can work but what about a wing combo, so to speak. I see Harrison as mechanical, rigid, lacks shake and bake, spotty shooter and then you wonder why your offense stalls?

If Barnes was more of a point forward, it would alleviate some pressure off Buddy to try to make plays he cannot make. This is why I advocate moving Barnes down to the PF where he can get the edge offensively in face ups by using his speed advantage without surrendering too much if any strength.

This opens up the SF spot for another guy who can help overall passing and handling of the team. (Who this guy is remains to be seen, Woodard?) Add a versatile wing with handles and this will help mitigate some of the issues Buddy has with TOs and carelessness, another outlet to relieve pressure.

Ultimately when a player needs many conditions to excel, that speaks to his limitations. So if you say well Buddy needs all these conditions met , a coach he doesn’t fight with, good defenders around him, creative skilled passers, then what is he worth?

But the fact is Buddy by his mere presence helps teammates because he demands so much attention on the perimeter and dribble penetration into mid game. He spaces the floor and tilts the defense to him. Lanes to the basket and back door cuts are created because you cannot leave him unguarded. It is just over his tenure we have not had enough skilled guys to exploit the attention he garners.

Maybe I am giving him too much slack but I saw concerted effort by Buddy last year to HOIST MINDLESSLY to implement the coaches mass quantity scheme. It failed miserably except for some isolated hot streaks too few and far between. I think they realized the error of their ways but it was about 20-30 games into the season and habits had been established. I know R-Dog was not citing last year but this plays into negative sentiment towards Buddy at present, of which I do not hold him culpable as others.

I expect Buddy will have a very good year, I don’t think he will get traded, and I think he could even have a career best year bc Fox is going to get all the open shots he can handle. And I expect we will have 48 minutes of some good high picks.

02kingsfan
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December 8, 2020 10:38 am

My solutions: 1. Stop complaining to the media or on social media. 2. Work on some fundamentals like dribbling, catching, and inbounding and passing with some thinking. 3. Fire Lose Alton

ZillersCat
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December 8, 2020 11:41 am
Reply to  02kingsfan

There are no W’s in Walton?

9sac8
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December 8, 2020 1:22 pm
Reply to  ZillersCat

None. Ever. Btw, his name is often misunderstood. They are not saying “Luke Walton” they are saying “Lose Often”.

ArcoThunder
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December 9, 2020 12:05 am
Reply to  ZillersCat

Correct

BabalooMagoo
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December 8, 2020 10:45 am

Catch the ball, shoot the ball.

Mike120
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December 8, 2020 11:13 am
Reply to  BabalooMagoo

And don’t dribble it off your foot

Mike120
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December 8, 2020 11:09 am

Gotta be someone on the Kings staff that knows all of these stats, no? If so, the changes needed are obvious.

andy_sims
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December 8, 2020 11:50 am
Reply to  Mike120

Everyone currently on staff other than the head coach could have told you this eighteen months ago, on account of them not being morons.

Ellimist
December 8, 2020 11:33 am

Can we take a second and appreciate how insane 46% on catch-and-shoot 3s is in the NBA? Sheesh.

Let’s take two extra seconds to curse Walton.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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December 8, 2020 11:51 am

Luke Fucking Walton is the main reason for Buddy’s downturn. Here is hoping that with the addition of Gentry, Luke will get his head out of his ass when it comes to offense. It just boggles my mind that a guy who “grew” into a coach in the Warriors system can use Buddy so ineffectively. He basically has a Klay like sniper but uses him like LaVine.

Remember that game when Klay scored 52 points, on 14 three pointers, while only taking 5 dribbles? That is how Buddy should be used.

Last edited 1 year ago by Adamsite
andy_sims
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December 8, 2020 12:04 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

It’s almost as if Steve Kerr created and utilized a system so good that even a chimp could win a bunch of games by staying out of the way.

Adamsite
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December 8, 2020 12:17 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Ya think?

Honestly, the only thing I remember about that winning streak the Warriors had while Walton “coached” was seeing him sitting on the sidelines just smiling and laughing. I doubt he did much of anything other than call the occasional timeout when one of his players looked tired.

rc50cal
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December 8, 2020 2:14 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Walton is the worst coach of the Kings since I started following the team in 1986. Though I am willing to consider arguments regarding Kenny Natt.

BestHyperboleEver
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December 8, 2020 12:26 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

It’s doesn’t hurt to have high BBIQ “coaches on the floor” like Curry, Draymond and Iguodala too.

andy_sims
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December 8, 2020 1:17 pm

Absolutely. Does anyone doubt that any person with even passing knowledge of basketball could have won 85% of those games?

reydarly
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December 8, 2020 12:06 pm

No more playmaking Buddy. Catch and shoot only.

Play with pace. Use our youth and speed to break down superior teams/defenders like 2 years ago. This is a prime year for that as the superior teams had less time off than us with the quicker turn around.

Trade him. Hope Ty and Ramsey can catch and shoot at a high clip. Sadly if he can’t take someone off the dribble he hit his ceiling and I don’t see him being dominant in the playoffs whenever we do finally get there as he does nothing else well. He is a great shooter but his skillset can be found much cheaper especially if he gives up just as much if not more than he scores on defense and coughing the ball up. Walton is a bad coach but I have to agree Buddy is more of a sixth man.

As an aside, Buddy’s acquisition probably made Vivek worse with his meddling because Buddy is one of the two times the broken clock was right during the day.

Wilson
SallySalamander
December 8, 2020 12:49 pm
Reply to  reydarly

Vivek’ s clock is 2 days and a few minutes late. It ain’t never right – like Bagley.

andy_sims
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December 8, 2020 1:19 pm
Reply to  reydarly

I’ve said it since he got here, and more than ever last season: Any possession that Hield dribbles more than twice in succession is a bad possession.

02kingsfan
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December 8, 2020 2:12 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

You know how Buddy keep liking things on social media that involves him being traded? I hope he comes to this site and likes all these comments of critics because I don’t buy the fact that he has nothing to work on.

rc50cal
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December 8, 2020 2:09 pm

Hey, to both of you who are on the fence as to whether Walton is a good coach, it’s time to jump!

“Under Luke Walton, Hield was tasked to run the offense far more often, as he ran the pick-and-roll over 26% of the time, an increase of about two possesions per game. That skyrocketing usage pushed him into an entirely new category of ball-handlers, putting him next to players like LeBron James (27.3%), Devin Booker (27.2%), Lonzo Ball (26.4%), and Jayson Tatum (25.5%).”

ManilaBayCleanerCrew
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December 8, 2020 7:25 pm

Harden wants out of Houston. Who do we trade to get his ass down to Sacramento?

deepshot22
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December 8, 2020 11:16 pm

Nobody. We are trying to rid ourselves of crap, not add more. We are also trying to build for the future, not sell it all away for one guy on the backside of 30.

ArcoThunder
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December 9, 2020 12:35 am

I don’t think it’s worth it. The timing just isn’t right.

if it were to happen though it would take buddy, Bagley and our 2021 unprotected. It likely takes more than that though. Which is why there is no way I would make this deal.

eddie41
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December 9, 2020 8:11 am

Just simplify the game for him, get open and score. In addition to the points raised in the article, I think some of the difference between the last two years is due to Cauley-Stein. They had a good rapport. (1) it was a safety valve for Hield to throw the ball to, (2) he knew he could get the ball back. It’s a different offense now, I get it, but they need more facilitators on the court to get the best out of Buddy. And if the opponent overplays him, cut back door more often.

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