Rookie Hield making an impression
Updated: 2016-10-12 07:32
By Sun Xiaochen(China Daily)
For rookie Buddy Hield, who was supposed to struggle a little bit in adjusting to the NBA pressure cooker, the preseason trip to China has offered a perfect opportunity to show he belongs.
Selected No 6 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans in June's NBA Draft, Hield has looked anything but out of place during the team's eight-day Global Games China tour, highlighted by his spirited pre-game workouts and engaging off-court persona.
In addition to performing impressively in the Pelicans' first three preseason games, Hield, who hails from Freeport, Bahamas, has bonded with teammates off the court - an easy transition he attributes to the welcoming atmosphere in China.
"I think it's a great set-up trip for the whole team to get together as a group. We've done a lot of team activities and we also talk a lot. I'm a rookie, and who talks to a rookie, right? But that hasn't been the case here," the 2016 Naismith College Player of the Year said after Tuesday's practice in Beijing.
After losing 123-117 to the Houston Rockets in Sunday's tour opener in Shanghai, the Pelicans will be out for revenge in Wednesday night's rematch at LeSports Center in Beijing.
Hield has made the most of his opportunity to experience a new culture, joining Eric Gordon of the Rockets at a kid-friendly event at the NBA Play Zone in Shanghai and hanging out with teammates at the Great Wall in the capital.
"They just picked on me and made me do a bunch of things," the 22-year-old shooting guard said, flashing a big smile. "It's fun being around these guys. It's my dream ... I always wanted to be in this position. I am living the dream and I just need to keep learning and staying aggressive with what I do on court."
So far, Hield has delivered.
Filling the void created by the absence of veteran backcourt combo Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday, he has shot 52.6 percent from the field and averaged 17 points over the first three preseason games.
With Evans and Holiday unable to start the season for respective health and family reasons, Hield has drawn praise from head coach Alvin Gentry for his ability to step up.
"He's learning. One of the things we told him is not to put your hands in the cookie jar with James Harden. He reached in there and then he got 3-point shots," said Gentry.
"Those are the kind of things we try to show him and educate him on the NBA. He is going to be a good player because he works hard."
(China Daily 10/12/2016 page24)