Rod Walker: By landing Buddy Hield, Pelicans fans finally have another reason to celebrate _lowres

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Yeah, Buddy.

New Orleans Pelicans fans hadn’t cheered this loudly since April 2015.

That was the night the Pelicans beat the San Antonio Spurs to clinch the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and make the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

There hasn’t been a whole lot to cheer about since.

But finally there was.

The crowd at Happy’s Irish Pub, where the team held a draft party Thursday night, began the chants right before the pick was actually announced.

“Buddy … Buddy … Buddy!!”

Then the place erupted as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that the Pelicans had chosen Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield with the No. 6 pick.

At last, there was something to cheer about.

“I’m pretty excited,” said Kunal Nayee, who started the “Buddy!” chant. “I think it’s a move that will keep Anthony Davis happy right now. Buddy was a senior, and he’s ready to play right now. This is good for us.”

Celebrating on draft night has been uncommon in recent years for Pelicans fans.

The last time Pelicans fans were able to high-five one another about a draft pick was way back in 2012, when the team nabbed Davis with the No. 1 pick.

And, like Davis, Hield comes in with some lofty credentials.

Both players won the Wooden Award and Naismith Award, given to the top player in college basketball.

In fact, the Pelicans are now one of just three teams in the league that have multiple Wooden and Naismith winners on their roster, joining the Los Angeles Clippers and Charlotte Hornets.

But those two teams made the playoffs this past season.

Can the Pelicans join them after going just 30-52 and missing the postseason in an injury-plagued year?

Pelicans fans who watched Thursday night don’t want anything less.

“It’s now or never,” said season-ticket holder Brandon Deckwa of Metairie. “If they don’t make it happen this year, there has to be some changes. I’d be happy with just getting back to the playoffs. You’ve got to start somewhere.”

With Hield, they get a proven scorer. In fact, it’s what he admits he loves to do.

“I know most of you guys watched me during the year: I’m a scorer,” Hield said. “I can shoot the ball a lot. Love to shoot. And I feel like when I go there I can open up the floor for Anthony Davis and other guys to be able to penetrate.”

As a senior, Hield averaged 25 points, which was second in the nation. He led the country in 3-pointers per game and was the only player in the country to average 25 points and 5.0 rebounds.

He was just the third player in Big 12 history to do that, joining Michael Beasley and Kevin Durant.

How good of a shooter is he?

He reportedly knocked down a Stephen Curry-like 85 of 100 3-pointers in a workout in Boston.

Hield’s shooting prowess is why longtime season-ticket holder Harrison Ward felt rejuvenated after Thursday’s pick.

“We needed a guard that can shoot like that,” Ward said. “I feel great.”

His pick maybe shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Pelicans general manager Dell Demps has been fond of more seasoned guys. Hield, who played four years of college, turns 23 in December. He’s just nine months younger than A.D., who just completed his fourth season in the league.

Now Hield joins Davis as the only players on the roster whom the Pelicans drafted and kept.

The agony of last season all of a sudden went away.

All of those injuries were all of a sudden healed...oops, make that Hield.