The secret basketball reason why the Pacers should trade Buddy Hield

Buddy Hield - Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports
Buddy Hield - Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports /

While some fans may not like what’s currently murmured to be on the table, the Indiana Pacers are more likely than not to eventually pull the trigger on a Buddy Hield trade this season. Despite the veteran being a positive presence on the court for the team, keeping him simply makes little sense from a roster-building standpoint.

Alongside the other veterans on the squad, Hield’s indispensability has definitely waned even this early in the season, taking into account the instantaneous ascent of Bennedict Mathurin atop the team’s pecking order. But aside from that, there is another rather obscure basketball reason why the Pacers should trade the veteran sharpshooter.

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The secret basketball reason to justify the Indiana Pacers trading Buddy Hield

The Indiana Pacers are already at the bottom of the standings with a 1-3 slate through four games, but the team has not been devoid of bright spots sin the early going. Aside from Mathurin and Tyrese Haliburton, most young prospects in the team appear to have started the proverbial jump this season.

That, however, does not apply to sophomore guard Chris Duarte, who has been ice cold to start the season. Averaging just 6.8 points on a measley 31.3 percent shooting from the field, including an abysmal 23.1 percent from downtown, the 2022 All-Rookie Second Team member has lagged behind his teammates so far.

While the bulk of that is being reactive to the first few games of the season, Duarte’s role has been quite the puzzling one. Last season, he could’ve tallied even more impressive numbers, but a vacillating role in the middle of the year, which culminated in an injury-riddled ending to the previous campaign, seems to have seeped into this season, and this is where Hield comes in as a trigger.

Hield and Duarte are two players cut from a different cloth; whereas the former is a three-point bombing menace, the latter is a methodical three-level scorer who needs to get to his spots to find his rhythm. As the layman’s eye would probably notice, his rhythm is virtually inexistent when he’s tethered to the wings awaiting for a catch-and-shoot opportunity.

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While their play styles are varied, the Pacers have to make it a point to give Duarte a cemented, consistent role. And quite ironically, giving the sophomore the Hield treatment touches-wise should allow him to get into his groove more often. He’s far from the voluminous shooter that Hield is, but at his best, he gives the defense more fits due to his miscellany of moves and unpredictability. He’s also arguably the better shot creator and finisher inside.

As long as Hield is on the roster, it’s hard to see Duarte eclipsing his production a season ago, which is also under the premise of him progressing to the mean. Between him, the veteran, Mathurin, Haliburton, and the team’s litany of shooting bigs, there are simply too many mouths to feed on the perimeter for Duarte to stand out as the offense is currently constructed.

Quite honestly, worrying too much about Duarte at this juncture is a reach, but habits are hard to break when they are established. And given how his role restricts his usage and efficiency, the Indiana Pacers have a striking reason to double down on their future and do the expected by moving Buddy Hield.

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