Buddy Hield has shown that he can live up to the hype — that’s something Los Angeles cannot afford to ignore.
The Oklahoma Sooners are headed to this year’s Final Four thanks, in large part, to the efforts of Buddy Hield.
Hield has found a way to put the Sooners on his back, including his most recent performance against Oregon where he dropped 37 of the team’s 80 points.
Oklahoma’s dream season has only echoed through March Madness, and their big wins against Texas A&M and Oregon in their last two outings speak for themselves.
They handled CSU Bakersfield easily in the first round before fighting off a high-powered and up-tempo team like VCU in the Round of 32.
Texas A&M came into their match up in the Sweet 16 with about as much momentum as a team can carry, with the reason being their double-digit comeback against UNI with just over 30 seconds remaining in regulation.
Buddy Hield had no sympathy for them, and he shouldn’t have.
Hield’s weakest game was against the Aggies, scoring just 17 points but making up for it with ten rebounds.
Aside from the 37 points dropped on Oregon, Hield also scored 36 in Oklahoma’s 85-81 escape from VCU — all the evidence you need that he is a scoring machine.
The best thing about Buddy Hield, though, when talking about his draft stock and comparing him to other potential first-round picks, is that he’s improved tremendously since freshman year.
His first season wasn’t nearly as impressive as his game, now mastered, as he prepares to head to the NBA next season.
Beginning his collegiate career in the 2012-13 campaign, Hield averaged less than eight points, four rebounds and two assists per game.
Those numbers aren’t nearly enough to get him into a national draft conversation — so he put more time into it, and his investment is beginning to pay huge dividends for everyone involved.
After an average of just eight points per outing freshman year, Hield doubled that numbed in his sophomore season to 16.5 points per game.
To follow that up, Hield upped the average to 17 points per game in his junior year, and then let the cat out of the bag in his senior season this time around.
After slowing climbing the average up to 17, Hield did the unthinkable and took it up another eight points this year from just last season.
This puts him where his current average of 25 points, six rebounds, and two assists rests right now.
Comparing him to a guy like Ben Simmons of LSU, the comparison doesn’t take much to show Hield is the better investment.
All the Lakers would have when looking at Simmons is one season of college basketball with more hype than anything else.
The team Simmons played for didn’t even make the Big Dance, so no matter what’s said about Simmons’ potential, there was nothing in college to show that he could shine in the big moment.
It’s the exact opposite for Buddy Hield.
In fact, Hield seems to be getting better the brighter the spotlight gets.
Simmons posted the stat line of 19 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists, but did so in a conference not known for strength in college hoops.
The SEC isn’t necessarily a basketball powerhouse like it is with college football, so even looking at the numbers he was able to put up, it’s hard to gauge whether that kind of success is transferable.
Beating Oregon in almost single-handed fashion, a team who was a top seed in their respective region, goes without saying.
Another prospect to compare Hield to for consideration by the Lakers is Brandon Ingram from Duke.
Ingram would be a good second choice, but he’s not what the Lakers need when you look at their depth chart.
As it is right now, the Lakers would have to hit the reset button at small forward if they picked up Ingram.
Grabbing Simmons would put them in the same boat.
Where the team really needs depth is at the shooting guard position — a place where all they have right now is Jordan Clarkson — and Hield fits that bill perfectly.
Whether or not Oklahoma goes on to win the NCAA Championship this season shouldn’t affect this decision at all, because Buddy Hield is still a proven winner and can shine when it matters most.
And that’s exactly who the Lakers need out of the gate to make some noise next season.