BROOKLYN, New York – The New Orleans Pelicans drafted arguably the best shooter in the NBA Draft and an entire new fan base of about 400,000 Bahamian fans.
The Pelicans chose Grand Bahamian native and former Oklahoma Sooner Buddy Hield with the No.6 overall selection in last night’s NBA Draft at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York.
It marked the first time the Pelicans kept their first round draft selection since they took Anthony Davis No.1 in 2012.
Hield, a favourite to fill the starting shoot guard spot for the Pelicans right away was awed my the moment of realising a lifelong dream and already plans a way to fit into the system.
“I’m speechless right now and thank God I got the opportunity to play with New Orleans picking me. When I go there, I’ll be a high-character guy, bring a lot of energy. I know most of you guys watched me during the year, I’m a scorer. I can shoot the ball a lot. Love to shoot. And I feel like when I go there I can open up the floor for Anthony Davis and other guys to be able to penetrate. And for a guy like Anthony Davis, they have a guy like me who can shoot the ball really well, can keep the floor spaced. Create more space,” Hield said, “I’m so happy, man, not only for me but for all the kids back in the Bahamas. The norm is that we never make it out there. To be one of the few that make it out there, so being one of the few that makes it out there helps me give to the kids and inspire them, like okay, there will be more that will make it out there.”
Hield’s stock rose after he completed star-studded senior season for the 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 also included 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.
He said he was now ready to embrace the culture of a new home.
“I know they have great food, I know it’s not too far from the Bahamas. I know they have beaches, not like the Bahamas, but there are beaches there so that’s always good. Like I said it’s not too far from home so I love it. They have a rich culture like we do with Mardi Gras and everything, we have Junkanoo so it’s a great fit,” Hield said, “New Orleans guy who is known for his basketball but at the same time who is going to help the community. I’ll do whatever it takes to win and I hate losing so they’re getting a hard worker, someone who will do everything they can for this organization.”
The last time Hield played it in Louisiana, it was as a member of the Sooners when they defeated LSU 77-75 in Baton Rouge. Hield had 32 points and made 7-8 three pointers in the contest.
This year’s draft marks the beginning of a busy offseason for the Pelicans, who are trying to give All-Star forward Anthony Davis a stronger supporting cast.
The Pelicans shot 36 percent from three with Luke Babbit, Toney Douglas, Gordon, and Ryan Anderson were the top three point shooters, but none played more than 66 games.
“He’s a phenomenal player,” Pelicans general manager Dell Demps said in brief comments after the pick. “He’s a player we targeted. We’re thrilled to have him.”
Hield plans to bring the Bahamian faithful with him to New Orleans.
“They know what I bring to the table,” Hield said, “I’m just ready for the Bahamas to come out and support me in New Orleans. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”