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Early reviews reveal Sixers’ Daryl Morey may have struck gold with Buddy Hield

PHILADELPHIA — It was hard to take Sixers basketball operations chief Daryl Morey seriously when he said he acquired the best man, not the big man expected before the NBA trade deadline.

Four games into the three-way trade with the Indiana Pacers bringing shooting guard Buddy Hield to the Sixers, it looks like Morey has hit one into the seats.

At the All-Star break, the 31-year-old Hield has averaged 22.3 points on 45 percent shooting from three-point range, the Sixers winning two of those three games without the services of center Joel Embiid. Hield’s range would make Steph Curry smile. Deadly as former Sixers three-point bomber JJ Reddick was, he doesn’t take defenders off the dribble the way Hield can.

The bonus is that Hield is dishing out an average of 7.5 assists in four games with the Sixers. In Hield’s last effort before the break, he delivered a career-high 10 assists to go with 22 points, his first double-double with at least 20 points this season.

Hield’s primary mission with the Sixers is unchanged. He’s made 18 three-pointers in four games, tied for the most by a player in their first four games with a team in NBA history, according to Sixers statistics. Imagine the possibilities when Embiid returns and kicks the ball outside to Hield. With the Pacers, there wasn’t much of a role because Tyrese Haliburton was the facilitator.

“I think God works in mysterious ways,” Hield said. “Coming from the Pacers I was just playing my role, just being a floor spacer. You know Tyrese Haliburton was our guy. He does so much for everybody, so I didn’t need the ball in my hand. I didn’t get to like, do as much. I was not allowed to show what I could do because he generates so much offense for everybody else. And he’s that good. But now I come into a situation where guys are out, and I had to step back into that role. And you know I prepare myself for it because I’m always working out, each and every day, and just trying to stay ready. This league is always about staying ready, and it’s a league of opportunities. You just never know when it comes.”

During the All-Star break, Sixers coach Nick Nurse will continue brainstorming about maximizing the skills of Hield with All-Star Tyrese Maxey, forward Tobias Harris and backup point guards Cameron Payne and Kyle Lowry.

The possibilities are almost endless.

So, too, will Hield envision a role going forward with Maxey, whose game speed creates space for the guard and Embiid, who in a few more weeks will have his left knee re-evaluated. Embiid’s left meniscus repair was widely considered a 4-6 week injury.

“I know what it’s like playing against him,” Hield said of three games earlier this season against Embiid and the Sixers. “Everybody says you get a lot of viable shots, and you think that you shoot the ball now but it’s hard to simulate when he’s not there. But I know that when he’s not on the court we can put on a different style of play that can help everybody else.

“Whether it’s moving the ball, passing, cutting, playing unselfishly, playing faster, getting up and down the floor, being able to switch out five defensively, (Embiid is) a guy that controls the whole game and in a positive way. And I’m excited to adjust to that when that time comes. It’s always a new challenge and I’m up for it. It’s a part of the NBA. There’s no crying in basketball. You get paid to do this job. You adapt.”

Hield’s reputation for practicing his shot already has become legend. He was cranking up jumpers at 2:20 p.m. before a 7 o’clock game with the Sixers. His goal is to get to arenas about 90 minutes before the first team bus leaves.

“I came from the Bahamas,” Hield said. “Nothing was given to me. So, everything I have I’m very appreciative of. Playing on a big stage like this just brings joy to me, to my country and my family. I never take that for granted because there’s always some kid in the Bahamas looking at me. Each and every year I go back home, hopefully I can inspire him to be, not me, but better than me. That’s my goal. When I can put extra work in, I’m going to take advantage of that.”

If Embiid is healthy enough to appear in the playoffs and Hield is able to maintain his role, which would take enormous pressure off Maxey to shoot the deep ball, the Sixers have an opportunity to compete for a title in what is a wide-open Eastern Conference. Right now, it looks like Morey was right. Instead of an ordinary big player, they got one of the best players available at the trade deadline.

Source: Berkshire mont

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