I’m sorely tempted to write, in 20-point type, WHO KNOWS WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THIS GUY?, and call that a post. However, I will resist the dark Satanic forces, and take a stab at what performance the Toronto Raptors and its fans might receive from Landry Fields.
Fields is a 6’7″ swingman, now in his fourth pro season after being a second-round draft choice by the New York Knicks. Landry was an Academic All-American at Stanford, a demanding university, and he has always struck me as a player who uses his head more than most. He is far from the most physically gifted specimen I’ve ever seen, but is able to read and anticipate the play exceedingly well. Without that capability, he wouldn’t be a benchwarmer in the D-League. Landry’s first season in Raptor red was a disaster, as an elbow injury robbed him of his shooting touch. Before the injury was diagnosed, he was missing layups. He was on the shelf for much of the early season, and had little impact when he was able to return. Landry is coasting on the pleasant-surprise reputation he built as a rookie. His stats have gone down since those halcyon early days. A particularly gruesome example: as a rookie he made 86 3-balls. For the Raps last year, he hit 2.
When the Raps have the ball, Fields likes to stay in motion on the perimeter, but can spot a gap under the hoop and will appear there to receive a pass for an easy bucket. He has little of DeMar DeRozan’s capability to drive to the basket, so must rely on his herky-jerky jump shot. Since we have no idea whether his lost touch will return, predicting his scoring is a “throw up your hands” exercise. He averaged a pitiful 4.7 Points Per Game in Year 1, and surely we can expect him to double that. Well, maybe…he won’t do so unless he gets playing time, which might be hard to come by. Landry was handed the small forward starting role last season, but that job now belongs to Rudy Gay. If Terrence Ross can harness his athleticism, he will be first off the bench, and Quincy Acy is in the mix as well. Landry’s ace in the hole may be on the defensive side. He stays in front of his man well enough, and is a surprisingly competent rebounder (there’s that head again!) for an average-sized player with no hops.
Landry Fields’ professional career is at a crossroads. He needs a “big” training camp and pre-season to convince his coach that’s he’s fully healthy and able to score (while there are a few swingmen in the NBA who have jobs because of their defense, Landry’s isn’t that good, and he’s too expensive for such a limited role). I expect to see a lot of him in pre-season action. Guys like DeRozan and Gay don’t need to take off their sweats in those games; they have made the starting five, so Landry will get his chance. He will either show he’s back and able to contribute when the regular season tips off, or he won’t. If the latter, he’ll be buried on the bench, only see the floor in garbage time, and become a “Let’s swap disappointments” trade candidate.
Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.
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