6th Pick Tournament: Buddy Hield v Dragan Bender

Published: June 6, 2016

Buddy Hield

by Ryan Schwan

This isn’t really fair. I mean, how could it be? Bender is an 18-year old kid and Buddy Hield just spent his last season chewing up a bunch of underclassmen, spitting them out, and then hitting a three in their face. Putting Bender up against him just feels mean. I mean, I don’t even think I have to pull out the big guns at this phase in the tournament. Sorry, Nick. Still, let’s say you have the sixth pick of the draft and Buddy is sitting there. Why should you pick him?

Because it’s the modern NBA.

If we’ve learned anything the past five years, teams that are good must have good perimeter shooting. Not should have. MUST have. And Buddy is one of the best college shooters ever. He shot 45.7% on 8.7 attempts a game. EIGHT POINT SEVEN. You know who never did that? Steph Curry. Neither did Klay Thompson or J.J. Redick. Damian Lillard? Nope. Buddy posted a True Shooting Percentage of 66.5%. Do you know how many other college players scored that efficiently last season and weren’t just dunking? No one. How about the year before? That would be Nobody.

The Pelicans need shooting. With Ryan Anderson most likely walking and Gordon (please, please) out the door, they need a shooter. Badly. What’s more, you can look at Buddy’s college trajectory and see his improvement. He gets better every year – and that’s without the benefit of an NBA training staff and training methods. His work ethic is unquestioned. His fire is unquestioned. He is going to continue to get better and better. His shot will improve. His handle will improve. His defense will improve. And his starting point is probably 50% higher than half the guys in this draft.

You want someone on Davis’ timeline? Hield is the same age.  You someone ready to improve this team right away to help keep Davis around? That’s Hield.    You want someone you can’t help but root for? That’s Hield.

It’s simple.  Vote Hield.

Dragan Bender

by Nick Lewellen

Ryan is right about one thing: this isn’t really fair. Notice how he brought up Steph Curry and Klay Thompson in the same paragraph as Buddy Hield like mentioning those guys puts them all in the same category? Steph and Klay are two of the best 7 shooters of all time. Pretending Buddy “Destroyer of Underclassman” Hield is like one of the splash brothers, who routinely pull up from 30 feet against grown NBA players, is just silly.

Oh, and you know what else matters in the modern NBA? Ball movement. Do you know what Buddy does? He clutches the ball. He holds it and keeps it to himself. He tells AD he can’t play on offense and to get back on D… Well, he would tell AD that! Look, Buddy played 35.4 minutes a game last year with usage percentage of 30.2, and he only managed a CAREER HIGH 2 ASSISTS PER GAME. Guess how many NBA players had a 30.2 usage rate and managed only 2 assists? None. Don’t worry, though. When he’s not passing to an open player, because of all the attention he demands, he is turning the ball over. He averaged 3 turnovers a game last year, and that includes 6 turnovers in a game against Harvard. I mean really. If you can’t protect the ball against Harvard, I’m supposed to believe you will against the Warriors, Thunder, and Cavaliers? Give me a break.

But yeah, he can shoot. You know who else can? Oh, Jamal Murray, Kris Dunn, Malachi Richardson… In other words, most of the guard prospects at the top of the draft. Why? because it’s the modern NBA, and coaches and trainers have access to the same information that we do. So most young guards have focused on shooting! Yes, by ALL means, if you feel like replacing Eric Gordon’s production with an undersized two guard who is prone to turnovers and doesn’t pass, vote Hield.

But first, let me see if I can interest you in something else.

Dragan Bender is this draft’s man of mystery. He’s an 18 year old, 7 footer with a 7-2 wingspan from Croatia, who has been playing professional ball since he was 15. That’s right, while Hield was trying to figure out how to get past the Sweet 16, my guy was becoming a seasoned vet overseas. Now, to be fair, he didn’t play a lot last season, but he was training, sleeping, and eating with one of the better international teams.

When he did play, Dragan played both forward positions and even got some time at center. He’s rail thin, but he will grow like, ya know, Anthony Davis did. Also, his size hasn’t prevented him from becoming a willing rebounder and solid shot blocker. If you do watch his tape, you’ll notice that he runs the floor pretty well for a guy his size. Oh, and remember the things buddy doesn’t do? Well, this guy passes very well. He’s already got a decent shooting stroke and post game, but it could still use some work. In short, there’s a reason this guy has been projected to go number 3 overall to Boston.

Look, I won’t lie to you. This guy will take some work, but that’s true of most rookies. In fact, most rookies, regardless of age or experience, fail to become even average NBA players their first season. Why should we expect Dragan or even Buddy to be average? It take times to adjust to the NBA. We’ve seen it with dozens of players. The difference here is that in a couple of years King Antony could have a Dragan or a… Buddy.

Dragan could be a game changer, and that’s worth the risk that somehow he doesn’t work out. Here, just try and imagine two lanky 7 footers, AD and Dragan, passing, running the floor, protecting the rim, and scoring together. It’s actually kind of hard to do. That’s because there aren’t a lot of teams that can do that. Did you see how Golden State struggled with the length of the Thunder? Imagine that in New Orleans instead of another dime a dozen, one dimensional shooter in the back court.

Yeah, this really isn’t a contest. Vote Bender.

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