Buddy Hield’s professional career has begun very inauspiciously, at least to those with an affinity for boxscores.
In his debut against the Denver Nuggets, Buddy Buckets posted a meager line of 4 points, 3 assists and 1 rebound. He totaled a mere 17 minutes because, let’s face it, his shot struggled to find the bottom of the net... or sometimes the rim altogether!
Now for the good news: a whole lot of butterflies appeared to be the main culprit. One needs to only look at his first few shot attempts to realize just how nerves afflicted Buddy Hield. One would never guess he possesses an incredible shooter’s feel or he was arguably the best collegiate scorer less than a year ago.
Nothing but... backboard!
His third attempt, a missed lay-in, is really all the evidence we need. Buddy looked far from fresh on this bungled shot.
In his post-game comments, Hield didn’t mention any nerves, but did say that he’s still adapting to his role off the bench. Remember, he hasn’t been a reserve since his freshman season at Oklahoma.
Besides the woeful shooting, many have also specifically pointed to Hield’s defense as a huge drawback on social media over the last 24 hours. Some have even compared his effect on the game to be equal to that of Alexis Ajinca — negative to the nth degree.
At least the butterflies didn't affect Buddy Hield on defense. Stayed with the shifty Will Barton well here. pic.twitter.com/MbScbvHPoP— Oleh Kosel (@Redhopeful) October 28, 2016
Will Barton is one of the best slashers on this Nuggets team, but here he couldn’t get past Hield in isolation, having to settle for a long jumper from two. #Win
Buddy Hield should have been credited with a steal here. pic.twitter.com/49lsEMotby— Oleh Kosel (@Redhopeful) October 28, 2016
Later, Hield snuck up behind Jameer Nelson to poke the ball away. Instead of just staying with his assignment, Buddy made a smart basketball play — on defense!
Buddy Hield with the correct read in PnR, blowing by Jamal Murray and Jusuf Nurkic. pic.twitter.com/0HMdw485T7— Oleh Kosel (@Redhopeful) October 28, 2016
Hield blowing by not one but two defenders, including the young legs of the 5th best shot-blocker from last season? But, but, everyone has been saying for months that he’s going to have issues penetrating into the lane in the NBA!
It’s not much to go on, much less draw substantial conclusions, but it’s undeniable fans didn’t get a chance to see the real Buddy Buckets on opening night. Hey, Alvin Gentry predicted a roller coaster, and it looks like Hield started his career on one of the lower rungs thanks to natural rookie jitters.
Don’t hold it against him, or worse, fail to recognize some of the accompanying positives.