We all knew that Landry Fields was going to be under a ton of pressure in Toronto after receiving a heavily scrutinized three-year contract worth $18.75 million in the summer, but from what I had seen in Fields’ first two NBA seasons, I was fairly confident that he could live up to the value of the contract (which is only slightly more than the league average salary) since he does things of fundamental basketball value on the court.
Landry has an earned reputation as a player who defends well on the perimeter, rebounds well for his position and moves well off of the ball to create offensive space for teammates without anyone really noticing. The way I saw it, and still see it, is that if Fields could continue to thrive in those underrated areas of the game and could just be counted on to hit the odd open jumper or three-pointer, he’d be a solid glue guy in the starting lineup and a deserving staple in the Raptors’ rotation for years to come.
I’m not ready to concede that five games into his Raptors career, but as anyone who’s watched even a few minutes of Raptors basketball so far this season can tell you, Fields has been far, far worse than even the most skeptical critics of the contract could have imagined.
He’s still moving well off the ball, but his defence hasn’t exactly been where it needs to be yet, and considering he’s expected to contribute on the glass for this team, he currently ranks a disappointing 38th out of 58 listed small forwards in rebound rate (in Landry’s defence, his rebound rate of 8.8 would rank eighth among shooting guards, and he’s much more of a “wing” than a pure forward).
In terms of his offence, the results have been absolutely atrocious.
As I’ve mentioned on twitter and in a couple of my post-game thoughts posts, Fields can’t hit wide open shots, is finding a way to turn easy layups into difficult attempts and is bobbling the ball when he’s gifted a pass and a clear path to the basket. In other words, he’s been an offensive disaster, as his sub-21 field goal percentage would indicate, which ranks him 334th out of 382 listed players so far.
Unfortunately, the advanced offensive metrics aren’t kind to Landry either. His paltry .237 true shooting percentage ranks dead last out of 58 listed small forwards and 298th out of 304 overall players (Fun fact: John Lucas III currently boasts the NBA’s worst TS%), while his player efficiency rating of 6.51 has him 56th out of 58 small forwards and 293rd league wide.
After Wednesday’s frustrating loss in Dallas, a friend and fellow diehard Raptors fans posed the following thought to me on twitter:
@josephcasciaro i honestly think landry fields is the worst player in the nba so far this season. can u think of someone worse?
— Volta (@iamvolta) November 8, 2012
To which I responded with the following:
@iamvolta There’s gotta be SOMEONE…
— Joseph Casciaro (@JosephCasciaro) November 8, 2012
Well as you can see from the numbers I’ve provided, through a very early stretch of the season, there really haven’t been many worse players than Landry Fields, and that has to be both concerning and sobering for those of us who still believe the Raptors will get a Fields that resembles his rookie self more than his sophomore self.
Believe me, I’m well aware of how silly many opening week or even opening month stats will look come the New Year and the end of the season, but based on what we’ve seen so far, Fields isn’t handling the pressure of the new contract well, and the heat from fans and media will only intensify if his struggles continue, especially if he remains in the starting lineup (I doubt he keeps his starting gig much longer if these trends continue).
If you’re looking for any shred of a positive right now, it’s that Fields can only go up from here – like, literally, it’s almost statistically impossible for him to be any worse than he has been over the last five games.