Pelicans guard Buddy Hield. (AP)
By RENALDO DORSETT
ALREADY a fan favourite in New Orleans, Buddy Hield reiterated his desire to participate in front of his home crowd when the city hosts All Star Weekend in approximately a month.
Hield took part in a fan driven Facebook Live interview with the Pelicans’ digital media team this week and had a favourable response when asked if he wishes to participate in the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest on All-Star Weekend.
“Yes for sure,” he said as he asked fans for their help with his participation bid. “Y’all need to campaign for Buddy to enter the three-point contest.”
When the NBA announced that it was moving its 2017 All-Star Game to New Orleans, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for Hield to leave his shooting mark on the weekend.
On the season, Hield is averaging 8.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists through his first 43 games, which includes 23 starts.
After a slow start, his shooting percentages have increased to 37 per cent from three-point range, 39 per cent from the field and 92 per cent from the free throw line.
Hield recovered from his recent struggles and scored 16 points in 15 minutes when the Pelicans travelled to Oklahoma to face the Thunder, which was seen as the turning point in his season.
Hield is shooting 41.4 per cent over his last 20 games, including 48.0 per cent on 3-pointers, taking five per game. During that timespan he also ranked second among players attempting at least 3.9 3-pointers per game.
Hield was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month (December) after he led the conference’s rookies in scoring (10.6 points), three-point field goal percentage (48 per cent) and three-pointers made (33).
Prior to the start of the season, while the Pelicans were in China taking on the Houston Rockets in exhibition play, Hield first mentioned that he would welcome the challenge of competing in the contest.
“I want to be in the three point shooting contest in New Orleans and if it’s possible I’d like to do it,” he said, “It’s a challenge to compete with Steph [Curry], Klay [Thompson] and all those guys. You’re competing with the best three point shooters in the world.”
The Golden State Warriors back court of Curry and Thompson have been the last two winners of the contest, winning in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
Hield, The former Oklahoma Sooners guard, drafted No.6 overall by the New Pelicans, was considered the top shooter in a recent NBA survey polling the league’s incoming rookie class.
Hield got nearly two thirds of the vote, 65.7 percent, in response to the question.
It was the most votes a player ever received for the best shooter question since Curry won 79 percent of the vote in 2009.
Known for his outside shooting, Hield’s senior season in Norman saw him average 25 points, 5.7 rebounds and two assists per game while shooting 50.1 per cent overall and 45.7 per cent from three-point range..
In July, the NBA announced the decision to relocate its 2017 All Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans due to the city’s controversial “bathroom law,” also known as HB2.
New Orleans will host the weekend during its midseason break, February 17-19, 2017.
The Three-Point Contest takes place Saturday February 18 at 8pm in the Mercedez-Benz Superdome.
Participants will be officially announced in the weeks leading up to the event.