Buddy Hield has taken the college basketball world by storm with his lights out shooting and infectious personality. Celtics fans across the internet want Hield if the Nets first-round pick falls out of the top 3. But Hield, a 22-year-old senior, might not offer the highest upside at that position of the draft. Despite averaging 25.4 points, the Wooden Award frontrunner has flaws that could limit his NBA upside.
Click below to read my profile of Hield's offensive skill-set. Here's a snippet:
Despite age, Hield's superb shooting could land him in the draft lottery
Hield is shooting a blistering 50 percent from three, after draining 37.2 percent of his nearly 500 attempts over the last two seasons.
At 6-4 with a long wingspan, the Bahamian has good mechanics; his upper body is sound with a quick, one-motion release that usually allows him to release cleanly. His footwork prior to the release could use some adjustment since he doesn’t always use "the hop" to gather quickly and he doesn't always get good lift, so he might have less breathing room against NBA defenders.
Still, Hield’s spot-up shooting will likely be his calling card in the pros. His ability to move off-ball and fill empty space suggests he should be able to translate those skills into off-screen situations as a shooting weapon. He’ll need to use screens better — sticking tight to the screener to shake his defender — but his prior improvements suggest it’ll only be a matter of time before he finds success.
Hield's ball handling separates him from pure shooting specialists, since he can navigate screens, pull up from anywhere, or drive to make plays near the rim. But despite being an electric college scorer, he likely won't be a go-to scorer like he is at Oklahoma because he has average athleticism, quickness, and creativity off the bounce.
Hield simply better projects as a sharpshooting role player because of his shooting prowess described above. Playing a more limited NBA role would also minimize his shortcomings. At 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, he'll be limited against more athletic, longer players. Hield plays hard and has a strong work ethic, so he'll likely improve. But the Celtics value positional versatility, and Hield likely won't be able to defend multiple positions like Marcus Smart or Evan Turner.
But Hield's improvements on offense make him a safe bet to carve out a role. The Celtics could use a sharpshooter like him off the bench, as they rank 27th in three-point shooting percentage. Hield's defense just needs to catch up before he can earn consistent minutes.
Taking Buddy Hield with the Nets pick in the No. 4 to No. 7 range is a stretch though. Hield could exceed expectations considering how much he's improved in college, but he realistically doesn't have the same upside as other players available. Hield would be a stronger selection for the Celtics using the Mavericks pick, if it falls in late lottery, with the expectations of him developing into a quality role player.
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