The Pelicans selected Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield with the No. 6 pick in the 2016 NBA draft.
The 6'4" Hield won the 2016 Naismith Trophy as the nation's top college basketball player. He averaged 25.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per game for the Sooners last season.
A native of the Bahamas, Hield grew up playing basketball with a bicycle-tire rim. In college, he became known for hoisting shots until he "felt comfortable," often several hours after the end of practice.
His shooting improved from his junior to senior year of college. In his final season, he made more than half his field goal attempts, including shooting 45.7% from behind the three-point line. He was also an 88% free-throw shooter.
For more on Hield, read Luke Winn's full NBA draft scouting report.
Strengths: His stats should make this clear, but Hield is an abundantly gifted scorer. He improved from a 23.8% three-point shooter as a freshman at Oklahoma to 45.7% as a senior while attempting 8.7 treys per game. He has drawn some comparisons to Steph Curry—to Hield’s credit, he denies them each time—because of his rapid-fire release and his ability to shoot off balance and at bad angles. He excels in transition and off screens, but he can also dribble himself open. He isn’t as quick or agile as Curry, but he can still get defenders to hesitate and he uses a killer fadeaway when they do. His dribble-drive game has improved in lockstep with his jump shot, as defenders can’t give him any space inside half court. He has a team-first attitude and maturity even beyond what you would expect from a four-year senior.
Weaknesses: Hield spent a significant amount of time on the wing in college, but he’s a little small to play the two in the NBA. He can make up for that offensively, but he may have trouble finding a comfortable spot on defense. He improved rapidly over his four years, going from a liability to one of Oklahoma’s better perimeter defenders, but he doesn’t seem destined for All-Defensive teams during his career. He can survive against twos, but switches will put him in danger. He isn’t a fantastic facilitator, either. He creates plenty of space, but he struggles to put his teammates in spots to succeed.
Grade: B-. The Pelicans are preparing for change in their backcourt and need scoring to supplement Anthony Davis up front. They had their choice of Hield and Jamal Murray here and chose the more NBA-ready option. Hield’s shooting will translate, and as the more mature player of the two, he’ll be able to play a role for the Pelicans next season as Eric Gordon departs. He’s the best pure shooter in the class, and defensively he’s also a bit better than Murray right now. But they may rue passing on a younger prospect with serious long-term scoring upside in the interest of an accelerated rebuild. — Jeremy Woo