by RENALDO DORSETT
This week marks an important step on Buddy Hield’s path toward the NBA as the top collegiate and international prospects look to increase their stock ahead of next month’s Draft.
The NBA Draft Combine takes place May 11-15 in Chicago, Illinois featuring more than 70 players invited to work out for NBA franchises.
The combine is a showcase where players take physical measurements, participate in interviews, undergo shooting drills, take medical tests, go through five-on-five drills and perform various athletic tests in front for the NBA coaches, general managers, and scouts.
Athletes attend by invitation only and performance at the event, whether positive or negative, has a direct effect on where players are selected in the Draft.
Hield, expected to be one of the top selections in June, completed star-studded senior season for the Oklahoma Sooners concluded with a litany of awards including the John R Wooden, Naismith and Oscar Robertson Player of the Year trophies.
He was also named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches first-team, a first-team All-American by the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), Sports Illustrated and USA Today. His list of honours thus far on the year also includes the Sporting News Player of the Year, USBWA District VI Player of the Year, CBS Sports Player of the Year, Big 12 Player of the Year and the All-Big 12 first-team.
While a majority of the invited players attend, several top prospects including LSU’s Ben Simmons, Gonzaga’s Domas Sabonis and Washington’s Dejounte Murray have opted not to participate.
Top overall pick of 2015, Karl-Anthony Towns, also opted out of the combine.
Hield is projected by virtually every reputed mock draft or scouting service to be taken in the lottery.
NBAdraft.net projects him to go fourth overall, ESPN.com projects him as the sixth overall selection while DraftExpress suggests he will go at No.7.
Following the combine and personal workouts with select organisations, the next important date in the process will be Draft lottery ceremony, which is traditionally aired during the conference finals.
This process determines the selection order and ultimately determine which team would increase their level of evaluation on particular players based on team needs.
Hield, a 6’4” 207 pound shooting guard is projected to have a likely destination of teams looking for shooting and backcourt help – the Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Denver Nuggets or Sacramento Kings.
Hield averaged 25 points per game, shot 50 percent from the field and 45 percent from three point range. He also made four three point field goals per game and shot 88 percent from the free throw line.
The Celtics, with the probability of landing the highest pick between the group, shot just 34 percent from three point range as a team during the regular season. They also made 8.7 three point field goals per game. Avery Bradley was the team’s top three-point shooter among players that qualified at 36 percent.
The Pelicans could also benefit from Hield’s shooting with Eric Gordon and backup point guard Norris Cole as unrestricted free agents.
Gordon led the Pelicans in three point makes per game while shooting 38 percent from long range.
The Kings continue to search for a consistent answer at the shooting guard spot after 2013 lottery pick Ben McLemore scored just 7.8 points per game and shot 36 percent from three.
Hield made a record setting 147 three pointers last season at Oklahoma in 37 games while the Kings leading three point shooter, Omri Casspi, made 112 in 69 games.
The NBA Draft takes place June 23 in Brooklyn, New York.