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How Buddy Hield Can Replicate Klay Thompson’s Production With Warriors – NBC Sports Bay Area & California


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“He’ll be a great goalscorer. He works hard. He’ll be a tough defender. He’s physically gifted. He’ll help someone. He’ll have a big impact.”

– Klay Thompson on Buddy Hield’s potential NBA selection

Klay Thompson could not have known that when he shared this opinion with me in 2016, he would leave the Warriors after eight years and create an opportunity for them to replace him with a man he described as his “Bahamian brother.”

On Thursday, three days after Thompson agreed to join the Dallas Mavericks, the Warriors acquired Buddy Hield to fill the huge void left by Klay’s departure.

It’s a sign-and-trade deal with the Philadelphia 76ers (who will receive Golden State’s second-round pick via Dallas) that completes the five-team deal that began with Thompson’s move.

While Hield will never replace Thompson in the hearts of Double Nation, or in the NBA’s postseason annals, it’s entirely possible that he could replicate the production he lost when Klay moved to Texas.

really really.

There was a time when comparing Thompson to Hield would have been laughable. When all they had in common was Bahamian heritage and a great three-point shot, and Klay was more special than Buddy. While Hield struggled in relative obscurity, Thompson was a key member of the league’s best team, a perennial all-star, and in 2018-19, a member of the NBA’s All-Defensive Team. He was on a fast track to the Hall of Fame.

But Thompson has been unable to recapture his former glory since missing 31 months with a torn left ACL and torn right Achilles tendon. The injuries have robbed Klay of his once-star perimeter defense, and his shooting has fallen into the same general area as Hield.

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A look at the numbers from the 2021-22 season through the 2023-24 season:

Field goal percentage: Thompson 43.3 percent from the field, Hield 44.8.
3-point percentage: Thompson 39.7 percent, Hield 39.2 percent.

Average goals scored per 36 minutes by season: Thompson 24.9, 23.8, 21.7; Hield 18.2, 19.5, 16.9. The totals are somewhat offset by Hield’s much lower volume, as he averaged fewer than 12 shots per game with the Indiana Pacers and 76ers.

While Thompson’s stats were collected with the Warriors while he shared the court with Stephen Curry, Hield’s stats came while he was on the court with the Sacramento Kings, Pacers and 76ers.

From an objective standpoint, Thompson, 34, and Hield, 31, have become very similar players — and that includes defense. Hield’s rating (115.7) last season was slightly better than Thompson’s (116.1). Neither is excellent, though Klay tends to hold his own against bigger players.

Another fact is that Hield has played the maximum 246 games over the past three seasons — including 84 between Indy and Philly last season. He has yet to reach the “load management” stage.

The Warriors have been preparing for Thompson’s possible departure since last summer, when he turned down their offer of a two-year, $48 million extension. The team has gone through a maze of metrics, crafting its plans from the ground up.

In the search for a big man available who can provide the shooting and space that Klay has enjoyed for more than a decade, there haven’t been many attractive options. Two of the five players who have made more threes than Thompson (Ray Allen, Reggie Miller) are retired, two others (James Harden, Damian Lillard) are on other payrolls, and the fifth is a point guard in Golden State.

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Of those whose projected value was above the minimum salary, none was clearly better than Hield. Eric Gordon was an unrestricted free agent, but he was four years older than Hield and quickly committed to the team.

So the Warriors settled on Hield. He’ll make $8.7 million in the first season of a $37.4 million contract, about $6 million less than the $43.2 million Thompson earned in his final season with the Warriors.

Thompson was the Warriors’ only major loss in the offseason. The team responded by adding Kyle Anderson, Dean-Anthony Milton and Hield. Like Klay, Buddy can be spotty but has a knack for scoring.

For a front office that entered the summer looking to acquire Paul George, this is Plan C (Hield), D (Melton), and E (Anderson).

With the NBA’s signing ban set to expire at 9:01 a.m. Saturday, the Warriors are one star, Plan B, away from making a remarkable recovery.

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