Buddy Hield

Hield isn't Klay, nor does he have to be for Warriors

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The Splash Brothers are no more. The Splash Step Brothers are never, and neither are the Splash Buddies.

Buddy Hield isn’t Klay Thompson, and he doesn’t have to try and replicate a franchise legend to be a smart signing by the Warriors. And a corny nickname created for quote-unquote content isn’t needed for him to make an impact.

The Warriors on Thursday acquired Hield in a sign-and-trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported, citing sources. In return, the Warriors are sending a 2031 second-round draft pick from the Dallas Mavericks for Hield.

What Hield does best is what the Warriors will miss most from Thompson’s departure to Dallas: Shooting, especially from 3.

Hield isn’t a ball handler and he isn’t going to make your defense better. There will be times where he makes frustrating turnovers and shows a lack of decision-making. The eight-year veteran also just received two DNPs (Did Not Play) for the 76ers in their playoff loss in the first round to the New York Knicks. And?

Nobody will ask Hield to save the day. His role is expected to be what the Warriors most likely wanted out of Thompson, perhaps to a lesser degree. Go get three points on the scoreboard. Steve Kerr’s message to his newest sharpshooter should be quite simple.

A reasonable expectation for Hield is to play anywhere between 18 and 25 minutes per game, a season after averaging 25.7 between Philadelphia and the Indiana Pacers. Another reasonable expectation is for him to continue making plenty of 3-pointers.

Nobody has made more 3-pointers than Hield over the last five seasons. The newest Warrior has made 1,322 in that span, and his superstar teammate Steph Curry is second with 1,264. Hield also has the advantage of playing 126 more games than Curry in the past five years.

Even in a down season by his standards, Hield shot 38.6 percent beyond the arc. But he shot 42.5 from three the previous season and is a 40.0-percent career 3-point shooter. Half his career has ended with him finishing second in 3-pointers made for a season.

The Warriors ranked second in total threes last season, but Curry and Thompson accounted for 51.6 percent of them. Golden State is getting rid of 268 threes last season in Thompson exiting the building. They’re adding 219 with Hield, nearly three years younger than Thompson, entering it. And also another 157 from De’Anthony Melton when he was fully healthy for the 2022-23 season.

There’s no erasing the history Thompson has in a Warriors jersey. The reasons are too complex to say they can fully replace him. But between Hield and Melton they are in the aggregate, combining the skills sets that made Thompson one of the NBA’s best two-way players at his peak.

Hield can light it up from long range. Melton will bring additional scoring and shooting. His main responsibility will be that of a lock-down defender who has a 6-foot-8 wingspan and elite athleticism – when healthy – as a point-of-attack defender.

Another key to the Warriors signing Hield is his health. The 31-year-old played 84 games last season. That’s a real stat, and it’s really two more than the NBA’s 82-game regular season. He now has led the league in games played three times, and has missed a total of 26 games in eight years – an average of missing only three games per season.

From Feb. 9 through 22, Hield scored 20, 23, 24 and 22 points in four straight games for the 76ers. Then he didn’t score 20 or more points the rest of the regular season. His last 20-point showing was the night the 76ers’ season ended in Game 6 against the Knicks, dropping 20 points and going 6 of 9 on threes.

He’s going to get hot. Sometimes really hot with his shot. He’s going to go cold, too. The Warriors can bet on Hield’s shot, and take the occasional lumps as they come.

The Warriors are giving Hield a four-year contract starting at $8.7 million, per The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, and the fourth year is a player option. The third year, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports, is a $3 million partial guarantee. The point is, Hield is here to play. He’ll be 32 in December. Kyle Anderson will be 31 in September, and Melton will be 26 the whole season.

Once again, some of the Warriors’ youngsters seem to be in a roster logjam. Moses Moody quickly comes to mind.

Hield’s 3-point shot fills the Warriors’ biggest need, and he isn’t going to be asked to be their savior. Or to be Klay Thompson. He’s another nice role player, a solid addition of now multiple smart signings by general manager Mike Dunlevy.

What’s still left to be desired on this roster is incredibly obvious, and will dictate where this highly important Warriors offseason goes in the end.

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