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Kings’ Hield named top Western Conference Rookie of the Month

Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month. Hield averaged 14.1 points in March.
Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month. Hield averaged 14.1 points in March. hamezcua@sacbee.com

In Buddy Hield’s short time in Sacramento, his optimism comes across clearly.

Even though his role is greater than it was before he was traded from New Orleans to the Kings, the rookie guard from Oklahoma still manages to see the big picture.

Still, that doesn’t mean Hield can’t be appreciated for what he’s doing now.

Hield was named NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month for March. It’s the second time he’s won the award. He won the award for December while playing for the Pelicans. Philadelphia 76ers forward Dario Saric won the Eastern award.

Hield is the sixth King to win the honor and the first since Ben McLemore in November 2013.

Hield was asked how his career has changed since being acquired by the Kings on Feb. 19 in the deal that sent DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans after the Kings lost Friday in New Orleans.

“My role has changed, more a scoring mentality,” Hield said. “Trying to figure out how to lead this team to wins and that’s the reason why the ownership ... brought me here, to try get some wins. I know even with this year, starting in training camp, this offseason we’re going to work on it and try to build the right chemistry to get on the right track.”

Hield led West rookies in scoring in March, averaging 14.1 points. He made a rookie-high 37 3-pointers, shot 48.3 percent from the field and was 42.5 percent from 3-point range, third best among all rookies. Hield also made 84 percent of his free throws, second for West rookies.

Hield was the sixth overall pick in last year’s NBA draft by New Orleans. He averaged 8.6 points for the Pelicans in 57 games. He’s averaging 14.4 points in 20 games for Sacramento.

Hield’s best all-around game statistically was March 24, when he set career highs with 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in a 114-100 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Oakland.

Kings coach Dave Joerger said Hield is adapting while also learning how to impact a game other than scoring. Hield was known as a scorer in college and has shown he can be a great shooter and score quickly.

In the Kings’ comeback win over the Los Angeles Clippers on March 27, Hield scored 11 points in the final five minutes to help the Kings rally from 18 down.

Hield started April off with 22 points and four rebounds in Saturday’s win at Minnesota.

“He’s been working hard, trying to learn a new place and how to play in the league and he’s improving,” Joerger said. “He had one of his better games against Minnesota (on Saturday). He scores baskets so sometimes we think he’s playing great. I think he played great all around against Minnesota.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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