While not far into his rookie season, Landry Fields has already accomplished something rather significant; he’s gone from being unrecognized by ESPN’s Chad Ford, to becoming rapidly known as one of the league’s best rookies.
Fields, selected by the Knicks with the 39th overall pick of this past summer’s draft, was nowhere close to being put on Ford’s well recognized and respected “Top 100” prospects board.
As Fields has successfully been doing all the little things for the Knicks this season, it may have been reasonable to say that the type of impact he makes could not measured in statistics, had he not led the Pac-10 division in scoring as a senior at Stanford last season.
Though his scoring was evident at Stanford, Fields has settled in perfectly on a Knicks squad that already includes multiple offensive weapons. Instead, he has earned a starting nod every game thus far this season by being the ultimate team player.
Fields is proving to be the type of player every good (or even great) team needs, perhaps ala Shane Battier. His offensive skills may be more fine-tuned, and he may not be as lockdown of a defender quite yet, but the intangibles he provides results in Fields and Battier being quite similar.
In fact, Fields may be more of an aggressive rebounder as well. So far this season, he has had no problems leaping up for boards, often connecting on put-back buckets on the offensive end. That type of rebounding (especially for a player his size) is something the Knicks have sorely missed for several seasons. It shows, too, as Fields’ 7.2 rebounds per game is second on the team, only to Amare Stoudemire.
On offense, Fields is quickly figuring out his role. While the Knicks have other primary options, the fact of the matter is Fields can certainly shoot the basketball. Often forgotten about and/or left open when opponents set to double-team Stoudemire or Danilo Gallinari, Fields has been able to knock down jumpers time and time again, shooting 55% from the field this season. His aggressiveness towards the hoop, in addition to those put-back buckets and converted jumpers, has also led to an 11.1 point per game average going into Tuesday’s game against the Nets.
As the team’s starting two-guard (essentially in place of Wilson Chandler, whom is highly regarded as the Knicks best wing defender), Fields has often been tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best player, so far able to hold his own, even as a rookie.
Coming from a Stanford program led by Coach Johnny Dawkins, Fields has an extremely high basketball IQ. His instincts have certainly proven that they can be trusted. In fact, he constantly looks calm on the court and his fundamentals can sometimes appear to be in place more so than Gallinari, who may still yet be adjusting to the American game. The Knicks drafted Fields after he spent the full four years at Stanford, a rarity among young players coming into the NBA these days. His maturity is visibly sky high.
Among rookies this season, Fields is a top-three player in several categories (if not, then a top-10 player in the rest), including points, rebounds, and double-doubles. It should be noted that Fields often trails in categories to Blake Griffin, who sat out last season, his supposed original rookie season, due to injury. Knicks fans should not be surprised if Fields finds his way to NBA All-Star Weekend (for the Rookie-Sophomore game, of course) in Los Angeles before the likes of Stoudemire and Raymond Felton.
Regardless of whether or not Fields is a rookie, he is undeniably making a serious pro-level impact on the Knicks. He truly is doing it all for the Knicks; a little bit of everything as he has quickly become of the team’s all around better players.
While Stoudemire may be the team’s star, and Felton their floor general, it’s a player like Fields that will help elevate the Knicks to a consistent winning mentality, playing a major role during crucial moments of big games as he has already proven to do thus far into the season.
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