In 2010, the New York Knicks selected Landry Fields with the ninth pick of the second round. That a player who led the then Pac-10 in both scoring and rebounding could slip all the way to the second round of the draft would have been a shocker just years prior, but today’s NBA places an emphasis on drafting younger players with more “upside.”
Few expected more than an end-of-the-bench player, but Mike D’Antoni thrust him into the starting lineup from day one and he fit in superbly.
He made an immediate impact on offense, spacing the floor with 39 percent 3-point shooting and finishing at the rim after well-timed cuts to the basket. He seemed to have a natural feel for the game, and his sense of timing and spatial awareness was an ideal match for D’Antoni’s freewheeling offensive system. Things changed after the arrival of Carmelo Anthony, though.
After the notorious Melo trade, Fields saw less opportunities around the rim. Even his rebounding (for much of the season, he was the best rebounding guard in the league) declined, with Carmelo occupying similar space on the court.
Things got worse in his second season. Though he continued to hustle and his defense improved, his shooting fell straight off a cliff. His form seemed different and his shot lost some of its arc. His 3-point shooting dropped to an unsightly 25.6 percent, contributing to the spacing issues that plagued the Knicks all season, and even his free throw shooting dropped to just 56 percent.
Landry Fields had gone from surprising success story to being known as the guy whose couch Jeremy Lin slept on.
Last year, he wound up on the Toronto Raptors, mostly as a result of the Raptors outsmarting themselves in their attempt to lure Steve Nash (neither the Knicks nor the Raptors got him). His shooting never recovered in Toronto, and he basically cut 3-point attempts out of his game entirely, attempting just 14 shots from deep in 51 games played.
He performed admirably on the glass though, snatching 7.2 boards per 36 minutes, just shy of his outstanding performance as a rookie. He also missed some time with injury as he suffered through elbow and wrist problems during the season.
Fields , if healthy, has the ability to be a solid role player for the Raptors, but he needs to improve his shooting form and regain some of his confidence if he’s going to be a contributor on the offensive end.