Two players vying for contract extensions. Two players fighting for minutes. Two players attached at the hip.
Kings shooting guards guards Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic have a friendly rivalry on the court and a close friendship off of it. They play completely different styles, but they also compliment each other well.
New coach Luke Walton has major decisions to make at multiple positions this season. The Kings’ depth is a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem.
Hield had a breakout season last year, posting a team-high 20.7 points, five rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 42.7 percent from behind the arc. He made an astounding 278 3-pointers, giving him an NBA-record 602 triples through the first three years of his career.
The 26-year-old played 31.9 minutes per game, up from the 25.3 minutes he played the prior season. Hield became not only a bonafide starter, but a lethal weapon in the Kings’ offense.
Slowed by a late offseason knee surgery, Bogdanovic missed 11 of the Kings' first 12 games while rehabbing. He had some high points and some struggles during the long season, but Bogdanovic still managed to average 14.1 points, 3.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 36 percent from distance.
Hield is the shooter. Bogdanovic is the playmaker. They complement each other on the court, but they are also in a fight for minutes this season with so many other alternatives in the rotation.
The Other Guys
Hield and Bogdanovic are the two main shooting guards, but Walton has other options as well. De’Aaron Fox and Cory Joseph can both move over from point guard and steal minutes, while rookie Justin James is an interesting player as well.
There is a chance that Walton steals a handful of minutes in a dual point-guard set with both Fox and Joseph on the court together. It’s possible that move would come at the expense of Hield and Bogdanovic, but they will likely spill over at small forward as well.
James is lost in a numbers game. He might play some spot duty in blowouts, but it’s more likely he spends the majority of the season either on the bench or sitting in Stockton with the team’s G League affiliate.
Stealing minutes at the three
It’s not a perfect solution, but Walton is going to need to find an additional 12 to 14 minutes for his shooting-guard tandem. Both players can move over to the wing in a three-guard small ball lineup, although it’s not a perfect solution. Bogdanovic spent more time at small forward last year than Hield, including 17 starts.
There is also the issue that Harrison Barnes is a big-minute player at the three, and Trevor Ariza can be a contributor in his 15th NBA season. Barnes will take minutes at power forward, although it’s a crowded field with five bigs vying for time.
Walton can only steal minutes from so many positions before he runs out of time. Pairing the rotation down to nine or 10 players is going to be very difficult.
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In a perfect world, Hield would play 32 to 34 minutes a game for the Kings as either their first or second option on offense. In addition, Bogdanovic would also play 27 to 30 minutes per game as the team’s super-sub.
This might be the plan of attack coming into the season, but there are so many mouths to feed on this roster.
Each of these players brings an intangible that can’t be replaced. Hield is an elite NBA shooter and a very good scorer. Bogdanovic is one of the team’s best playmakers and a solid scorer in his own right.
Walton will quickly realize that Hield and Bogdanovic are two of the team’s top five players. He’ll make adjustments to get them time, especially down the stretch of games when they both flourish.