We’re going to handle preseason player profiles differently this year on RaptorBlog. For each player on the 2012-13 Raptors’ active roster, Joseph Casciaro and I are going to email our thoughts back and forth and then post the resulting conversation on the blog. It’s an edgy new form of journalism! Or something…
Landry Fields, SG/SF, 6’7″, 215 lbs.
2011-12 stats: 66 games, 28.7 MPG, 8.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.3 BPG, 1.2 SPG, .460 FG%, .256 3P%, .562 FT%, 12.0 PER
Scott: All right, let’s talk about Landry Fields and what he must have done to make so many Raptors fans hate him. Is he a serial puppy torturer? Does he like to finish off a milk carton and then put it back in the fridge? Oh, wait, I know what his federal crime is: “not being Andre Iguodala”.
Look, I know Fields didn’t have a particularly impressive sophomore season, but I’m not prepared to doom his talent level to that season instead of his much more impressive rookie year. I suspect the real Landry Fields is somewhere between those two performances, and I also think that Colangelo and Casey see his real value on defense — where his contributions won’t necessarily show up in the numbers.
You seem like a fairly reasonable guy most of the time, Joseph. So I assume you’re not among the throng of angry Raptors fans who inexplicably hate him and what he represents before he plays a single minute for this team?
Joseph: In the spirit of Matt Devlin, Bang On! I am not among the throng of angry Raptors fans when it comes to Landry Fields. I don’t just think the truth about his game is somewhere in between his rookie performance and sophomore performance, I think it’s much closer to his rookie season.
If his shot doesn’t return, the Raptors still have a player who defends well at the wing, rebounds well for his position, does all of the little things well (ie- knowing exactly where to run and how to space the floor on a fast break and on offence in general), and a solid glue guy who seems to understand and embrace his role.
That player wouldn’t be worth roughly $6.3 million per season for three years, but if his shooting, specifically his three-point accuracy, does return to rookie form, then the Raptors might have made one of the meaningful under the radar moves of the off-season, regardless of how infuriated some people are with a contract that’s worth only about $1 million more than the league average.
If Fields has the bounce-back season I anticipate and thrives as a glue guy for the Raptors, he’ll quickly become a fan favourite in Toronto with his comedic nature and seemingly down to earth personality. Did I mention he’s brought Elaine Alden to town?
Scott: I don’t want to cheapen this blog by embedding one of Landry’s girlfriend’s many titillating photos, but I will link to this Google Image search as a public service. Even if you don’t like the guy as a player, you have to begrudgingly admit that he’s winning at life.
The way I imagine Dwane Casey is going to use Fields is to have him guard the other team’s most dangerous wing player, which will enable DeRozan to focus on his offense. In this way, Fields and DeRozan won’t really have set positions in terms of “this guy is a shooting guard, this guy is a small forward”. And frankly, that’s the way it should be most of the time. People get too hung up on whether players like DeRozan and Fields are a “two” or a “three”. I say it depends on the matchups.
Joseph: Whether it’s his defense on the wing that helps DeRozan focus on his own offense, or his solid rebounding from the wing that should ease the pressure off of an inept rebounder at the four, Fields’ strengths really do seem to mesh well with this team and should help mask the weaknesses of players like DeRozan, Bargnani, etc.
Now obviously, at some point, we’d all like to see the organization cut weak links off if they fail to improve, but for right now, this is the roster, and Landry Fields seems tailor made to help cover some of its deficiencies.
Scott: Hopefully, Landry knows that so many fans seem to think he’s a vastly overpaid scrub and will use it as motivation to fix his shooting mechanics so he can return to being a valuable contributor on both ends of the floor. Maybe then he can wash away the stink of being labelled as “the guy Colangelo only signed to try to block the Knicks from getting Steve Nash”. Regardless of what happens on the court, we can least count on him to bring some much-needed personality to this team. He’s no Oakley or Jalen, but he’s a smart, funny guy and I hope we get to interview him at some point.
Joseph: Landry’s always going to have the shadow of the failed Steve Nash pursuit following him around in Toronto, and while I won’t buy that Colangelo was necessarily always a Fields guy, I do believe that Casey was, so he’s probably thrilled to have Landry, regardless of his salary or how he got here.
At the end of the day, this team still has financial flexibility going forward and might even have max salary space next summer depending on what they do with some of their other players, so I’ve found the outrage over his slightly above average salary to be somewhat comical and grossly exaggerated.
Scott: I’m not sure if anyone has made this comparison yet, but Fields has the potential to be another “Mo Pete” type of player for the Raptors — a solid all-around player who is a good teammate and never misses a game (he played in every game over his first two seasons). Every team can use a guy like that. Also, he lives in the same building as J.E. Skeets so maybe we’ll see him in a hilarious Basketball Jones skit sometime this season.