Buddy Hield will begin his rookie campaign with the plan of providing his patented scoring punch off the bench for his New Orleans Pelicans.
Pelicans head coached Alvin Gentry announced that Hield, the No.6 overall pick in June’s Draft, will come off the bench to begin the regular season when it tips off Wednesday October 26 against the Denver Nuggets at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Five-year veteran E’Twaun Moore is pegged to get the start at shooting guard.
While he cooled off during the second half of the preseason slate, Hield was still productive during the preseason where he averaged 12.5 points per game on 43.2% percent shooting from the field and 29 percent shooting from three. He also added 3.5 rebounds, two assists and 1.3 three-pointers made in 27.3 minutes per game.
In five preseason games, Moore averaged 12.4 points on 53 percent shooting from the field and 52 percent from three.
Gentry said his decision on the starter was not an indication of the impact he thinks Hield will have.
“I purposely went to him [in the preseason] to give him a feel of what’s going on. I don’t worry about Buddy,” he said, “He’s the least of my worries, He’ll be fine. As a rookie, he’ll suffer and he’ll have some very good games but with his work ethic he’ll be fine. I don’t worry about him at all.”
On the position battle between the two, Moore said: “I don’t really think about that I just go out and play and do my job and whatever happens. I just go out and do what I’m capable of doing. It’s fun starting but I’ll take it either way it comes.”
Hield concluded the preseason with 11 points on 40 percent shooting against the Orlando Magic.
“I learned a lot. How to stay poised…late situations in games…playing against experienced teams. I learned from my guys. I learned from the coaches and I am just trying to get better each and every day. I think today’s game was a great example for me by learning for the next time I know what to do in certain situations,” he said, “”That I can play in this league for sure. I compete with the guys. I can guard and defend. I just have to keep on getting better and things I can work on are ball handling and not turning the ball over.”
In his first preseason start, Hield finished with 13 points, three rebounds and two assists in the Pelicans’ 96-89 loss to the Atlanta Hawks last Tuesday. It was a bounce back performance for Hield who went scoreless last Wednesday in the Pelicans’ final game of the NBA Global Game series in Beijing, China. The 6’4” 215 pound guard opened the preseason with 19 points in his debut, followed by games scoring 18 and 14 respectively. Through three games he shot 6-15 from three-point range and 20-38 from the field. In the two games following, he shot 0-8 from three-point range and 5-19 from the field before he finished strong against the Hawks and Magic.
“It (first NBA regular season game) will be a couple more days before it gets here but I will be ready,” Hield said, “My family is coming into town. Hopefully we will get off to a great start.”