Landry Fields – in focus

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.

Apr 3, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Terrence Ross (31) goes up to make a basket against the Washington Wizards during the first half at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

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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Topics: DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields, Rudy Gay, Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors

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  • Guy

    If your evaluation of Fields is dependent on his points/game, then you wont be happy. But when I look at the roster.. Rudy/DD/Jonas/Lowry/Novak/Amir, even Hansborough…. I don’t see a real need for Fields to be a scorer anymore than I’d expect Acy to be a scorer. In my opinion, the value in Fields is his versatility because he can come off the bench & play three spots effectively(PF/SF/SG) if needed. He has the size & speed to cover the SG/SF positions & the smarts to cover PF for limited minutes. You don’t want him at PF for too long, but, as you pointed out, his IQ allows him to anticipate, putting him in position to defend & rebound. And with his constant movement without the ball, he can get a few sneaky buckets with backdoor cuts, etc.

    The real wildcard is if he can regain his touch from 3pt range, because his 2pt FG% was just about 48%. If he can get that 3pt% back near 30%, he could be a very valuable guy coming off that bench. Of course, just my opinion.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Guy: There is merit in what you say about the Raps not necessarily needing Landry to score a bunch. But Landry needs to score, for his own sake! A player who can’t contribute points will find the rest of his game slipping away, like a baseball player who isn’t hitting. It plays on his mind, and his defense begins to suffer.
      I also concur that he needs his 3-pt touch to return. I think the Raps are going to build their second-unit offense around the 3 (Novak, Austin Daye, Terrence) and Landry will need to average 1 per game, at least.
      I hope the Raps run some pick & pop plays for Landry in pre-season. Nothing would boost his confidence like taking, and making, open looks.
      Thanks for commenting.

      P.S. “…just my opinion.” That’s what we’re looking for.

      • Guy

        I appreciate what your saying, but I disagree Fields needs to score for his own sake, because I think Landry knows he can contribute in other ways.
        As I see it, the difference between Fields & your baseball analogy, is that Fields can still contribute offensively without being a scorer. Running screens, offensive rebounds, moving without the ball, passing/assists, etc…. All those things contribute to points & Fields does well in those areas. Whereas a baseball player that doesn’t hit contributes nothing offensively. Fields just wants to play and help in any way he can. If he averages 6-8 ppg, bonus.
        As for the 2nd unit, assuming Novak & Ross will be part of it, the need for Fields to shoot 3s is negated. I think it would be a mistake to have several guys out there that chuck it up from the arc. That could lead to a lot of long rebounds & run-outs for the opponent.
        Personally, I hope Casey doesn’t make the wholesale line changes he did last year. Taking 3 starters out at once. Unless it’s the 4th quarter & the game is decided, no need to do that in my opinion. No more than two at a time. Easier to maintain the flow of the game with one cold guy out there instead of three.

        Should be interesting either way.

        • Newmarket_Brian

          Hi Guy:
          Your last paragraph is compelling. I think Casey’s use of second unit players is going to be very interesting this season. There’s a significant drop-off in skill from our first unit, but the starters can’t play 48 minutes. The thought of watching Augustin, Daye, Novak et al on the floor at the same time does not fill me with hope.
          You’ll hear more from me on this topic during the season.

    • AM

      Well put, I totally agree.

      If you know basketball and look beyond the stats, he does so many little things on the court that make him valuable even without scoring. Getting his 3′s back will only increase his playing time because of all those little things he can bring.

  • Lenny

    Great article. But about the no hops thing – landry has a 34 inch vertical leap.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Lenny: I’m glad you liked the article.
      As to the “hops” – to me it’s a function of both the ability to leap high, and leap quickly. Landry is slow to get off his feet, hence no hops. What is impressive is his positioning on rebounds, which allows him to haul them down with little effort.
      I hope he has a great comeback season for us.
      Thanks for commenting.