6th Pick Tournament: Buddy Hield v Denzel Valentine

Published: June 10, 2016

Buddy Hield

by Ryan Schwan

You know what I’m tired of? Guys who don’t leave it all on the floor. Guys who take plays off. Guys who don’t develop their skills and are the same guy now as the one that joined the team.

In sum. Guys who don’t love the game.

Do you know who loves the game? Buddy. Do you know who improved by leaps and bounds every year he was in college? Buddy. Do you know who has words like “plays extremely hard” and “will do everything in his power to win” in every single draft scouting report this summer?


The guy gives a damn, works like a dog, won’t quit, and hasn’t missed a game since his freshman year. Doesn’t that sound like a refreshing change of pace? And that’s even before we get to his skill level. I mentioned his shooting before – but Hield is so much more than that.  He was absolutely, monstrously elite last year as a scorer. In the last 20 years only one other college player has scored as much and as efficiently as Buddy Hield did last year for Oklahoma. That’s impressive, but you know what is even more impressive?

He scored that effortlessly against a harder Strength of Schedule than any other lottery college prospect.

So Oklahoma lined up against a murderer’s row of teams and Buddy put up 25 points on SIXTEEN shots. He drilled 4 threes a game AND drew 5 free throws a game. (which he hit at 88%) What’s more, he didn’t do it with the ball always in his hands as he was playing small forward for his team and the ball was in his point guards hands (Cousins) for a lot of it. He ran off picks, down screens, in transition, and was always moving. Again – can you imagine having someone relentless like that on the team? A blistering knock down shooter who can draw another teams focus away from Davis and Jrue as they work?

I can. And you should want that on this team. Vote Hield.

Or . . . you can vote for the guy who can’t even break the top 10 on any of the pre-draft lottery boards.  Hmmm . . . .

Denzel Valentine

by Jake Madison

The Pelicans have a bunch of holes. And shooting happens to be one of them. But adding a shooter isn’t going to fix a lot of the Pelicans problems and get them back to where they need to be.

So point to Hield’s shooting stats all you want. That isn’t what the Pelicans need with the 6th pick. Sometimes you have to factor in that a prospect is just a good fit for a team. That is what Denzel Valentine is to the Pelicans.

Valentine isn’t as good of a shooter as Hield. I’ll admit that right now. But he’s a damn capable scorer. He made 3.4 3’s per game on 44.4% shooting. That’s pretty excellent. He’s a wing player who can be a secondary ball handler (useful if Tyreke Evans is traded). Has good size at 6’6”. He averaged 7.8 assist per game in college-meaning that he isn’t a ball stopper and black hole on offense. If the ball gets to him, he’s willing to pass it. That’ll lead to less offensive stagnation like we’ve seen with Eric Gordon and Evans. You can’t say the same about Hield.

More than anything, though, his big selling point is his basketball IQ. How much of that was missing this season for the Pelicans? Having guys just make smart plays instead of dumb ones. Valentine might be the smartest prospect in the draft. And he just spent four years learning under Tom Izzo. It’s one of the reasons why Valentine was one of the more consistent prospects last season.

Defensively is where Valentine lacks. But, again, that basketball IQ makes up for it. This isn’t a guy who’ll miss rotations, who won’t know who to guard. Physically can he keep up with some of the more athletic wings in the league? Probably not, but he’ll at least be able to play team defense. Which is something the Pelicans were absolutely unable to do last season. He won’t be a net negative on that end of the court.

But I’m going to leave you with something Brett Dawson of the Advocate asked me about Hield—something which absolutely terrifies me. What if Hield is just another Jodie Meeks?

I’ll pass on him.

And take a guy who contributes in more ways with the 6th pick.

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