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Buddy Hield’s development has been put on hold with the New Orleans Pelicans

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Is this cause for concern?

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Buddy Hield, the 6th pick in the 2016 NBA draft, was the most decorated collegiate player in the NCAA last season. He garnered numerous awards after posting one of the best combined perimeter shooting and scoring campaigns in recent memory.

After averaging 21.1 minutes per game in the Pelicans first 12 games, Buddy’s role has been substantially minimized upon Jrue Holiday’s return to the rotation. In the last 7 games, Hield has averaged a mere 9.1 minutes, and he appeared in a season-low 1:28 against the Lakers — all coming in garbage time.

Not surprisingly, Dell Demps had to address Buddy Hield’s playing time yesterday.

Are you worried about Buddy Hield's development? How would you handle him for the rest of the season?

Kevin:

With Tyreke Evans’ eventual return, the Pelicans will have a glut of bodies at the guard/wing positions. Hield needs to develop, but he mainly needs a boost in confidence.

One way to solve this conundrum would be to keep Diallo on the NBA roster with Cunningham out, Jones being inconsistent and Ajinca being ineffective. Thus, Hield could get a stint in the D-League so he can get professional minutes, boost his conifidence and the team can fight for the playoffs while still developing it's future at the two.

It's a shame the Pelicans don't have their own D-League team so they could effectively manage Buddy, but I'd be very happy if he spent some time with San Antonio’s affiliate, the Austin Spurs. Getting him some good run would be beneficial — especially since we can probably expect an injury and a need for his services at some point down the stretch.

Chris:

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried. The coaching staff was not confident enough in Buddy's ability to play many minutes versus the Lakers, a game the Pelicans comfortably led by 20 during the whole second half. Whatever the rotations are that Alvin Gentry has planned out for each game, they need to include a minimum of 12-15 minutes per game for Buddy. He needs to play and have his confidence reinstated.

Jamile:

I have zero worries about Buddy's development. Remember, even some of the greats struggled mightily in their rookie campaigns. Hield started slowly at Oklahoma — some guys just have a hard time transitioning to new situations. It's much more difficult than people think to go from being a starter and the first option on offense to a guy that has to come in cold of the bench and knock down shots. I mean when I play in pick-up games, my number one excuse is that I didn't have time to warm up. (Don't act like I'm the only one.)

Look Buddy can flat out shoot — we've all seen the highlights — and almost every NBA evaluator felt that at the very least Hield will be an effective shooter. I am, however, encouraged with Hield's development in areas outside of shooting. He's been a much better defender, ball handler, and rebounder than I thought he would be at this point.

If I was the general manager, I would think about sending him down to the D-League for a few weeks to get his confidence back up, especially once Evans returns. I honestly think he's a guy that needs to warm up a bit before he really gets going, and playing the various roles he had to play as Gentry figures out the roster may be exceedingly difficult for a rookie. If Hield can get 10 to 20 shots a game in the D-League, that might be much better for him than getting a handful of attempts a night in the NBA — a rate that might take all season to get his groove back.

David:

I'm not worried about his development, I'm worried about his minutes. Buddy Hield needs to play, even if his presence is an overwhelming negative to the Pelicans. That's the sacrifice necessary for a rookie, especially one we believe with the potential Hield could reach.

Tyreke Evans returning could be great for Buddy; increasing the amount of catch and shoot opportunities and removing much of the overthinking Hield appears to be putting himself through. Of course, if Hield doesn't play, it doesn't matter.

Oleh:

I wouldn’t say I’m worried, but I’m not happy with the decision to completely reduce Hield’s role to one that equates with banishment to the end of the bench. As Chris stated above, the Pelicans were comfortably ahead of the Lakers throughout the second half but Hield only saw time in the final 1:28?

You can do better, Pelicans. You must do better.

For those screaming bust, crying about foregoing Jamal Murray or have never liked Hield from the start, Buddy did have a nice stretch offensively right before Holiday returned.

Minutes per game PPP eFG% 3FG% Assist% +/-
10/25 - 11/9 (8 games) 21.3 0.86 38.8% 20.0% 8.0% -3.9
11/9 - 11/17 (4 games) 20.9 1.18 55.9% 35.3% 20.5% -6.8
11/18 - 11/30 (post-Holiday return) 9.1 0.80 31.3% 21.4% 8.6% -4.0

Hield’s offense was trending quite positively and I can still vividly recall the November 12th game against the Lakers.

This is Buddy Hield, not the one that’s had the rug swept out from under him due to a minutes crunch on the roster.

For what it’s worth, though, the reduced role is entirely understandable. The nature of the business calls for winning ballgames, and as Hield’s +/- in the chart points out, he has not been an effective contributor. (During that 4-game stretch, his defense was on the borderline of awful.)

During the team’s most recent winning ways, it’s no wonder Buddy has lost his swag, and fans, their confidence in the rookie. Don’t be that guy, but we must hope jerking his playing time around doesn’t come around to bite the Pelicans in the ass when the rotation does have an opening again.

Fernando:

If the teams’ focus is exclusively making the playoffs, I'm okay with the role assigned to Hield at the moment. If the plan also calls for player development, then... well... I’m just left scratching my head here. To be honest, though, I think it will all work itself out through trades or injury. Hield will start seeing more time when certain things fall into place.

Brett:

At this point, there should be slight concern with Buddy Hield. He is taking mostly good shots, but they are just not falling. However, the season is still not at its quarter mark and he is a rookie.

Hield also was asked a lot of to begin the year, which is a bit much even for an “NBA ready, 22-year old” rookie. Hield exhibited too many signs at Oklahoma to be written off as a bust, of course, but the time for production should be coming.

Ideally, he functions as a second unit scorer and gets all the looks he wants, but with them falling at such a low clip, it is tough to say how long that M.O. can be in operation. If Hield stays cold, it would not be out of the question to let him go wreck up the D-League for a short while to gain back some confidence. At this point, his ego and confidence do not appear too rattled, but if Hield stops taking shots he normally does, the time for an assignment has arrived.

Travis:

Hmm, Buddy. Am I worried?

Sure.

He's still shooting abysmally from 3, but we've heard all along that his shooting percentage isn't going to determine his play... this can only be true for so long.

Anywhere he can steal minutes from more deserving players like Langston Galloway is great for him, but I don't blame Gentry for wanting to scale back Buddy's minutes. It's a tough league and Gentry is trying to save his job by winning games — whether Buddy gets time is a secondary issue for a coach and management team on the hot seat.