The way Hield is playing at Summer League should help set expectations

Shades of Eric Gordon!  Dude can’t shoot!  Dell’s got himself a lemon again! He’s up against Summer leaguers and still isn’t getting to the rim!

It’s true.  Summer League Hield hasn’t been pretty.  I know some people have been pretty upset by the spectacle of Hield jacking and missing to the tune of 34%.  I get it.

But, it doesn’t really bother me.

I could make a lot of excuses.  The Pels Summer League crew appears pretty devoid of talent.  Hield is a name – and guys fighting for their careers will gun for names.  Almost every defense has been switching everything on Hield like he was Steph Curry.  It’s hard to put in place an offense that generates open looks in only two days of training camp.

Whatever.  That’s not why I’m okay with what I saw from Hield.  I’m okay with it – because for the role he’s going to play for the Pelicans, he showed me more than I had been expecting.  Not to be a dick, but if were expecting a supernova, you probably need to shift your expectations.  The Pelicans did not draft the next Dwayne Wade.  They didn’t nab James Harden 2.0.  They didn’t snatch up a ball-handling, shot-making wizard like Dame Lillard.  If that’s what you thought, then you’re in for some heart ache.

Because the Pelicans drafted J.J. Redick.

That’s Buddy.  He’s a remarkable, confident shooter who has a handle just good enough to make secondary plays when a defense closes on his shot.  He can break a bent defense.  He should not, however, be expected to force that first crack on his own.  That’s what he’s being asked to try in Summer League.  Unless we are, once again, forced into a Pit of Injury-Ridden despair next season – he won’t be asked to do that for the Pelicans.

It’s what teams have asked of Redick for years.(after a he struggled a little early on) It’s what they should ask of Buddy.

Anyways, here’s a blast of Buddy-related thoughts from what I’ve seen from Summer League:

  • Buddy’s release is fast and requires little space to get it off.  He is 100% capable of being a volume 3-point shooter in the League.  This was a concern for me, since the Pels will have to replace almost 12 3PA between Gordon and Ryno to just jack up an average number of three point shots.
  • He is a willing passer in the half court – and, even more important, was good at finding open teammates when a defense collapsed on his penetration.
  • Hield is demonstrative when a big drops his dump-offs near the rim, clapping in frustration and rolling his eyes.  Hield’s eyes and hands will be very sore after playing next to Omer next year.
  • Hield invariably digs on post-ups, leaving his guy open on the perimeter to put pressure on a post player.  If someone doesn’t break him of that, his guy will murder him in the NBA.
  • He is not a good passer in transition, and, in fact, didn’t show a lot of instinct for running to the three point line for an open shot during fastbreaks either.  The two fastbreak threes I remember him taken were off-balance and off-target.  That is where Anderson and Gordon feasted last year – he’ll need to practice it.
  • He is determined to fight through picks.  It doesn’t mean he was always successful – but few people are.  On defense, determination does count for a lot – and if he manages to fight past a pick and trail his guy in his first game next year, he will already have surpassed Eric Gordon’s total from last year.
  • When his guy was crossing sides (running along the baseline to the opposite side of the floor) he frequently assumed they were just going to either run straight to the corner – or double back to where they started.  If the guy suddenly darted in any other direction, Buddy tended to lose him.  I dread the first time he has to guard Klay.
  • Hield is not a skilled ball-handler.  He has a simple crossover and hesitation that can be effective sometimes, but he doesn’t have the skill to maneuver in traffic or break off guys easily.  It is the primary reason why he should not be the point of attack guy.
  • Hield’s instincts are to rely on his jumper more than his dribble. (See bullet point right above this for a likely explanation)  If he gets past the perimeter and headed towards the basket and is cut off by the help defense, he looks either to pass or take a pull-up jumper.  He does NOT take it to the defender.  If asked, I would set the over-under for Buddy FTAs per game at 3.  (And probably take the under.)
  • Hield is surprisingly good at catching shitty off-target passes that didn’t hit him in the numbers.  I noted this because, in general, passes in Summer League are shitty and off-target.

Anyone else got something to add?


3 responses to “The way Hield is playing at Summer League should help set expectations”

  1. I always felt Redick was a plus defender and a decent ball handler which are deficiencies  for Hield.  I think he is closer to Korver.  It will be fun to see his progress though.  I think he may be the kind of player who plays best when the better players are on the floor.  Which would actually open up a spot for a ball dominant off the bench scorer like Reke if somehow he is healthy enough to play.

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