Kings' Buddy Hield named to 2016-17 NBA All-Rookie First Team

Kings' Buddy Hield named to 2016-17 NBA All-Rookie First Team

A rollercoaster rookie season for Buddy Hield has ended on a high note.

A very high note.

The Kings shooting guard was named to the 2016-17 NBA All-Rookie First Team on Monday.

Hield is joined by Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon, New York's Willy Hernangomez and Philadelphia's duo of Dario Saric and Joel Embiid.

The Kings acquired Hield in February as part of a trade that sent All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans.

Before the trade, Hield averaged just 8.6 points in 57 games with the Pelicans. But he stepped up his game once he got to Sacramento as he averaged 15.1 points in just 25 games with the Kings. In total, the No. 6 overall pick out of Oklahoma averaged 10.6 points and 3.3 rebounds during his rookie campaign.

Fellow Kings rookie Skal Labissiere received one First Team vote and five Second Team votes, finishing with seven total points.

The NBA All-Rookie First and Second Teams are shown below.

Hield after rookie season with Kings: 'I’m never going to take a step back'

Hield after rookie season with Kings: 'I’m never going to take a step back'

The Sacramento Kings interrupted the NBA’s showcase weekend with the trade of DeMarcus Cousins. The three-time All-Star was stunned by the move, as were plenty of others around the association.

With all the focus on Cousins and what might have been, rookie Buddy Hield packed up his belongings in New Orleans and moved into a downtown Sacramento motel room. It’s a business. Players are reminded of that all the time, but for a first year player, it’s a tough pill to swallow.

“When you get traded, it’s like a wake up (call),” Hield told NBC Sports California. “First time it happened to me, first year it was like, okay, maybe what I was doing wasn’t good enough for the team to keep me. So you go into your own element and try to make yourself better.”

Hield, the sixth overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft, wasn’t setting the world on fire with the Pelicans. Averaging 8.6 points and 2.9 rebounds in 20.6 minutes per game, the 23-year-old wing started the final 36 in a Pelicans uniform for head coach Alvin Gentry.

The Kings liked Hield in the draft and the jumped at the opportunity to add him as part of the mega-deal for Cousins. It took seven games for Dave Joerger and his staff to elevate Hield to the starting shooting guard position and he spent the remaining 18 games of the season looking more like the star scorer from Oklahoma University that fans had become accustom to.

In his 25 game audition in Kings uniform, Hield posted 15.1 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 48 percent from the field and a sparkling 42.8 percent from behind the arc. He set a new career-high in scoring multiple times, including a 30-point outburst late in the season against the Phoenix Suns.

When most first year players were hitting the rookie wall, Hield found himself in a new situation and excelled. The Freeport, Bahama native is known for his tireless work ethic. He could be seen out on the court before anyone else every game night hoisting hundreds of 3-point shots in pregame and behind the scenes, he was known to be in the gym two or three times a day.

“I wear down, but there’s a drive to keep me going,” Hield said. “Just knowing my struggles to get here, how long the process was of me getting to the NBA. That’s what keeps me going. I get tired, but I know where I came from and how hard it was to get here. I just can’t give up.”

Hield showed flashes of being a high-end scorer during his short time with the Kings, but he also showed his youth. He has a laundry list of items to work on over the summer, including improving his shot selection, ball handling and becoming a better defensive player.

“I need a lot of things, this summer is great for me because next year it will show how big of a jump I can make,” Hield said. “After that, we build off of that. Just keep building. I’m never going to take a step back. My motto is we always look ahead, we never look back.”

There is no question that Hield is driven to succeed. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, which was only amplified by his rookie season trade to the Kings. He’ll likely open the 2017-18 training camp as the favorite to win the starting shooting guard position, but the field is crowded and there is no room for regression.

“My rookie season was cool, it was okay, I wasn’t satisfied with it,” Hield added. “Many people might be satisfied with it, but I’m trying to build and make progress and try to get this franchise to the playoffs.”

This attitude is part of the reason the Kings coveted Hield in the draft and made the trade to get him. He has the want to be great and the commitment to do the work. Time will tell what his ceiling is as a player, but betting against him would foolish.

Instant Replay: Kings come up short in battle with Lakers

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Instant Replay: Kings come up short in battle with Lakers

BOX SCORE

It looked like a rookie/sophomore game Friday night at Staples Center as the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers faced off for the last time in the 2016-17 season. It was a spirited affair, but in the end, the Lakers found a way to win on their home floor, coming away with the 98-94 victory.

Julius Randle used his strength advantage to abuse the Kings in the post. The third-year big finished the night with 25 points on 10-for-14 shooting and added six rebounds for the Lakers. 

No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft, Brandon Ingram, shook off a slow start to score 14 points on 6-for-14 shooting. Jordan Clarkson added 12 points and six assists and former King Thomas Robinson chipped nine points and five rebounds as the Lakers pulled away late.

Welcome to Tinseltown Mr. Cauley-Stein. Sacramento’s second-year big put on a show for the Kings, playing tremendous basketball on both sides of the court. The 7-foot center finished the night with 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in 22 minutes of action.

Rookie Skal Labissiere looked like he was trying out for the slam dunk contest. The smooth shooting big score 19 points on 8-for-13 from the floor and added three rebounds and two blocks in the loss.

Darren Collison started after sitting the previous game. The veteran point guard shot 5-for-7 from the field on his way to 15 points and a game-high 10 assists. 

Buddy Hield struggled from the field early, but still managed to drop in 17 points on 7-for-14 shooting. Georgios Papagiannis added 10 points and 10 rebounds and Ben McLemore went for nine off the bench as the Kings moved to 31-48 on the season.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Labissiere continues to show he’s ready for the NBA stardom. The 21-year-old forward has big league potential. 

TURNING POINT

The battle of NBA babies came down to wire. Los Angeles went for the win late, gaining the lead in the final three minutes and holding on for their 24th victory of the season. Larry Nance Jr. hit a free throw to give LA the two-point lead with five seconds remaining and the Kings couldn’t come up with the play to even the score late.

INJURY UPDATE 

Kosta Koufos sat for his fifth straight game for planned rest. Ty Lawson and Garrett Temple sat as well as the Kings’ season winds down. Rookie Malachi Richardson is officially out for the season with a right hamstring thickness tear. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles. 

WHAT'S NEXT 

The Kings return home following the game where they’ll face off with MVP candidate James Harden and the high-scoring Houston Rockets Sunday afternoon at Golden 1 Center.