Los Angeles — NBA All-Star weekend doesn’t just belong to the big boys playing in the league’s marquee event on Sunday night. It also provides a sneak peak and shines a light on the young fellas that could be the future of the game down the road: the dudes that were invited to play in Friday night’s Rising Stars game.
We caught up with the Sacramento Kings’ second-year shooting guard Buddy Hield, a native of the Bahamas, who is averaging 12.5 points per game this year. Hield scored 29 points in Friday night’s NBA Rising Stars Challenge for the World Team
He gave us some insight on learning and growing in Sacramento, the first experiences that connected him to the NBA, appreciating the opportunity he’s been given in the league, his thoughts on Ben Simmons and more. Here’s what he had to say.
“It’s great to be here during All-Star weekend with my Sacramento teammates Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Aaron Fox. We get to talk, hang out, have fun, get away from the regular season for a minute and talk about what we need to do to get better as a group. It’s a good bonding experience that we can use to build on our relationship.
Growing up in the Bahamas, the first experience I had that connected me to the game was the Finals between the Sixers and the Lakers, when Allen Iverson was playing against Kobe and Shaq. I remember the competitiveness they had, watching Iverson and how he was going at the Lakers, how he led Philly to that big win in Game 1, then how the Lakers responded by winning four games in a row. I’m a Kobe guy. Philly was overmatched, but Iverson kept competing as if his life depended on it. That was fun to watch.
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Out of all of the rising stars competing in this year’s game, I think Ben Simmons will be the first guy among us to make it to the All-Star game. But there are a lot of guys that have that potential. Ben has the most potential right now because of the way he makes plays for his teammates. He’s athletic, has great vision, makes the right decisions and he’s just a great point guard. He’s what the NBA represents right now, guys playing multiple positions.
This year’s rookie crop is very good. Ben can facilitate but he can score the ball too. Donovan Mitchell has been playing very well and he’s a great scorer. His team is over .500 right now and as a rookie coming into Utah, he wasn’t expected to do what he’s doing. He’s playing at such a high level and been producing in clutch moments.
Whether I’m starting or coming off the bench in Sacramento, I’m embracing it and out there having fun. Every opportunity I get, I’m trying to take advantage of it.
When I was at Oklahoma in college, my job was to take over the offensive load at times, so I’m comfortable if I have to do that sometimes for my team.
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I’m not discouraged about having to do it now if that’s what my team needs.
Playing in the NBA is a big adjustment, so I’m just focusing on going out there and having fun, playing the game and not trying to over-think it. In the NBA, in order to succeed, you have to do what you do best and don’t try to do something you can’t do. Just do what you do, do it effectively and work within the team concept.
I have a great opportunity. A lot of guys wish they could be here. There are so many guys around the world that dream about this. As a kid, I wanted to be here and I’m blessed to be here in the NBA right now.
Yup, the 12-foot tall purple Buddy Hield statue that I accidentally had 3D-printed is definitely alive. I think. I had my suspicions before, but the evidence continues piling up. First it was the Hot Pocket incident, now this. Things just keep going from bad to worse over here in DTB-land.
I think we’re building something special in Sacramento. Our record doesn’t say it right now, but we play for each other and we’ll continue to grow. If we can play with the right mindset, things will turn around in the future.”