Sometimes, basketball IQ is almost as important as talent
Some are calling this a move that is good, if and only if it leads Nash to sign with the Toronto Raptors. Others are simply calling it overpaying for a role player who regressed to a point where he almost fell out of the Knicks' rotation last season.
While there is little debate as to whether or not Fields has the potential to be a star player, there should be little debate as to whether or not he fits in Toronto.
Across the board, the Raptors lack basketball IQ. Athletes like Ed Davis, James Johnson and Demar DeRozan lack the basic basketball IQ a player like Fields seems to have in abundance.
It was his overall basketball IQ that led Fields to have a remarkable rookie season despite being a second-round pick. Its this basketball IQ that Colangelo probably coveted more than anything when making the call.
The last time the Raptors actually had a decent season, lets not forget that they started players like Rasho Nesterovic, Anthony Parker and Jorge Garbajosa alongside Chris Bosh and T.J Ford. Having players who understand the game is invaluable.
It is these players who, while perhaps making a marginal impact on the box score, make a monumental impact in the win column by enhancing the overall performance of the players around them and helping to enhance the team's chemistry both on and off the court.
Is it a coincidence that the Raptors have failed to make the playoffs in each of the years since Anthony Parker left? Is it a coincidence that the Raptors looked like a completely different team in the playoffs without Garbajosa than they had all year with him, despite his rather conservative and unimpressive numbers?
Everyone wants a home-run signing, and perhaps the Raptors may just get one with either Nash or Dragic this offseason. However, if the Raptors are seriously hoping to win or make it to the postseason this year, it'll be a great help to have players who understand how to win, as opposed to players who simply know how to jump.
There is little doubt that Toronto would have loved to draft Harrison Barnes, and have a potential core of Valanciunas, Bargnani, Barnes and DeRozan going forward. What they have now however is a team full of pieces that seem to compliment each other. Adding Nash to the puzzle will simply make this even more apparent.
Whether its signing a role player like Fields, chasing an aging Nash or passing on potential for production with Ross, the Raptors have made it clear that they're building around their coach. They rightfully believe that with Casey, they can compensate for talent with system. Its a fair argument.
Perhaps, just as we saw in 2006, the sum will be greater than the parts. For a fanbase that complained about brain farts, a lack of hustle and an overall roster incapable of closing out games in the fourth quarter, Landry Fields may just become a fan favourite next year.
If not, in two seasons, he becomes a sizable expiring contract in the prime of his career. Those calling this overpaying are probably right, but if the Raptors do manage to turn it around this season, I assure you Fields will play an instrumental role in making it happen.