There are times to protect a rookie and there are times to let him learn the hard way
The Kings are doing that with guard Buddy Hield, who recently has been matched up with elite wing players such as San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard and Golden State’s Klay Thompson.
Monday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Golden 1 Center meant a meeting with Tony Allen, one of the NBA’s premier defenders.
The Kings aren’t yet asking Hield to defend a player like Thompson for an entire game, either.
“It’s a process,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “Some nights I want him to have that experience, some nights I want him to work on ... fitting in with us and what we’re doing and how we can help him because there’s a lot of things you can do with a guy like that.”
Hield is enjoying dealing with the NBA’s best players. He doesn’t lack confidence and understands he has to go through the league’s learning curve.
“Oh, it’s fun,” Hield said. “You want to compete against those guys, that’s what you play in the NBA for. You don’t want to take nights off, you want to play against the best. You want to go out, compete and have fun.”
Joerger said as Hield learns more, the Kings will look at different ways to use him on offense. Joerger noted Golden State’s Stephen Curry is as an “elite screener” in addition to being an elite shooter.
Curry’s ability to set screens creates openings for himself and teammates, similar to how the Kings used Mike Bibby years ago.
“That’s the the kind of stuff we’re working on,” Joerger said. “And then you get to that elite level where Kawhi is trying to lock you up and ‘How do I help my teammate get open and how do I get myself open?’ It’s a tremendous experience for a first-year player.”
Sitting out – Tyreke Evans sat out Monday’s game for planned rest.
Evans, who has dealt with multiple knee surgeries in recent years, does not play in back-to-back games. He played in Sunday’s win at the Los Angeles Clippers.
Arron Afflalo was out for personal reasons.
The Grizzlies were without All-Star center Marc Gasol (sore foot).