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:

To which I responded with the following:

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.


Comments (15)

  1. I think Lamar might have something to say about this whole worst player in the league thing….

  2. Good call on Lamar, althought I think he’ll bounce back somewhat this season, he won that award last year for sure, what abou John Lucas, wasnt he something like 1/16 to start the season. Not concerned eventually he’ll hit shot and forget about it

  3. I’m so conflicted. Really rooting for Landry because, as I and a lot of us learned in the off-season (after initially being outraged by his contract), he’s such a good guy. I started justifying the signing because of his character and like you, thinking that his solid fundamental play would still benefit this team.

    I know players don’t necessarily wants fans’ pity or sympathy, but I legitimately do feel bad watching him out there during games. You can see him trying not to let the little mistakes phase him, trying to play hard through his struggles, the dejected body language. I can empathize. Who hasn’t been through spells like that in basketball where everything seems to go against you? Yet, that’s why he’s paid handsomely to do what he does and not fall into slumps like these. It’s tough — one of those things that humanizes the game a bit, but then you remember, basketball is a business.

  4. It’s gotten to the point where I’m just feeling bad for the guy. It’s not as if he’s playing like he doesn’t care. He does. And the fact that he’s playing so poorly is obviously tearing at him.

    I wasn’t a fan of the signing, but watching him play like he has is painful.

  5. He needs confidence. Send him to the D-League and bring him back… is that possible?

  6. See what happens when you eat too much Primo Past & Sauce

  7. Lets be reality here guys its pretty early to be having this conversation..

  8. It is early, but the first 5 games of the season count just as much as the last 5. It’s getting to the point where his inability to score, and his presence on the floor only is costing wins.

    • I’m, like perhaps a few others who posted above, willing to cut him some slack because he is still trying. It the disinterested games from AB that really piss me off.

      That said, I think he’s only got a few games to put it together before someone else should take his starting spot.

  9. Fields is not going to get any better. He can’t shoot…can’t dribble…and has a slow first step. All signs of a disaster for a starting wing man. Knicks got better by letting him go.

  10. Well, I don’t feel sorry for the guy. $18M contract, reasonably good looking GF. Casey should just put him on the second unit and let him play through his problems against lesser quality opponents. Plus, when Lowry comes back, Jose could really use the help. Jose has been lookin’ baaad on D this season so far. And D is the one thing that Fields has managed to be mediocre at this season.

  11. It’s a bit of a moot point with Kleiza out for personal reasons. Who are you gonna put in? Ross will make just as many mistakes as Fields (if not more – rookie learning curve). Let Fields work it out. This whole team looks like discombobulated crap for significant stretches of games – they’ve all got a lot of work to do before they regain the cohesiveness they showed under Casey last year.

    Run-on sentence alert: Are there any statistics for how many times Bargnani is hedging hard while defending a pick and roll, chasing the ball carrier 4-5 feet out past the 3-point line, losing his man who is standing wide open on the baseline two steps away from the basket, resulting in a direct pass from the ball carrier to Bargnani’s man (while Bargs WALKS back to his man with his hands down and his eyes off the ball), resulting in an easy layup/dunk for the opposing team as some poor Raptor attempts to rotate to Barg’s man far too late to be of any use? I’ve been seeing this several times a game. I think the coaches are getting after the team to hedge hard on screens, but Bargnani stays with it for too long and doesn’t get back to his man a) quick enough, or b) with his arms up, covering the potential pass for the easy 2-points. In Dallas this happened directly after Bargnani scored a nice 2-points on the other end, a case in point for how he has a tendency to be of no net benefit even while scoring because his defensive awareness is at least as bad as his offense is good.

  12. not sure how ANYONE believed that LF was going to bring anything of substance to this team. seems like you’d have to be a fanboy to make the justification for the $ versus value here. probably the same people that like carlos delfino. sigh.

  13. Just be happy that the raps are somewhat competitive, at least were not the pistons. Yes, Fields has been pretty awful but he’s certainly no rodney stuckey

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