In his much anticipated NBA Summer League debut, Oklahoma basketball star and No. 6 overall draft pick Buddy Hield was less than spectacular. The New Orleans Pelicans struggled to an 85-65 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers as their rookie sharpshooter finished with only 13 points on 5-of-20 shooting. Hield shot 1-of-8 from beyond the arc.
“That’s horrible,” said Buddy after the game. “I had some good looks, and I took some tough looks. The game was a lot faster than I thought it would be, but it’s something that I can learn from.”
No. 2 overall pick, Duke superstar Brandon Ingram, appeared in sync with the Lakers offense, finishing with 12 points, four rebounds, and two blocks.
Due to the Pelicans shortage of talent, there’s a good chance that Hield will be the team’s starting shooting guard come regular season. He understands that, although Summer League play doesn’t mean much in the long run for a top 10 draft choice, he needs to make a good impact as a rookie.
“The first impression is always a good impression,” said Hield before Friday’s debut game. “I’m coming in locked and focused on what I’m capable of doing and having fun. It’s the first game being part of the NBA, and I’m ready.”
Hield also struggled tremendously driving to the basket. As he progresses through his rookie season, Hield will need to find his stride, as defenders will do everything they can to shut down his outside shooting. He will also need to get better at dishing out assists on his way to the basket, but the coaches see a lot of work in that space.
“That’s something he wants to work on,” said Robert Pack, head coach of the Pels Summer League team. “We’ve even talked about it. It’s a good test for him. It’s a good example of the way people will probably play him because he can shoot so well. That’s something that he’ll put the effort, get in the gym, we’ll work on it, and he’ll be better.”
Let’s hope so.