At the beginning of the season, Landry Fields, the Knicks’ second round surprise, began to take the league by storm as he transformed from a prospect no one had heard of into a sensation everybody needed to know about.
A starting position and two “Rookie of the Month” honors later, Fields is beloved by Knicks fans and has been a key part in the Knicks' improved play this season.
However, as the team speeds ahead towards the playoffs, Fields, whose impressive play came unexpectedly, has begun to hit the “Rookie Wall,” struggling mightily as of late.
While Fields has become known for doing all of the little things, often times things recognized as pure intangibles on the court, his impact has been felt less and less as the months have gone by.
Though at one time he led not just rookies, but all NBA guards in rebounds per game with over seven per contest, Fields has not totaled seven boards in a single game since March 1st. Furthermore, he has shot 3-11 and committed six turnovers in the Knicks’ most recent three-game winning streak.
To be fair, Fields made his biggest impact earlier in the season as a member of almost a completely different Knicks squad. His role was greater and he was certainly depended on more so than he has been in the last couple months.
With Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups joining Amar’e Stoudemire, Fields has taken a back seat.Though he’s been known to do more with less, Fields’ productivity has fallen off considerably while playing with his new teammates.
Moreover, his efficiency has trailed off as well. While having a big game here and there (as Fields had been known to do) is often all about waiting for your number to be called, Fields needs to stay fresh and consistent.
As a rookie, big games are not always apparent, but it’s important that he continue to knock down shots, grab rebounds, and play good defense, proving he still deserves a key role in D’Antoni’s rotation, let alone the starting lineup.
With Toney Douglas, Bill Walker and Anthony Carter all seeing increased minutes at the guard positions, Fields has seen his time on the court decrease. After seeing such a level of success early on from given playing time, perhaps the decreased amount of minutes is messing with Fields’ mentality.
Without a true center cemented in the starting lineup (Shelden Williams is the current big man on his tour of duty at the five), perhaps the Knicks could benefit by highlighting Fields’ rebounding ability, giving him a chance at power forward while Stoudemire stands in at center.
Playing power forward and focusing on grabbing boards could help Fields once again get in the right mindset, concentrating on all the different things he can do on the court besides scoring the basketball.
Though Fields is a tad small to be an everyday power forward, the Knicks have been known to play shorter lineups, and as one of the team’s better rebounders, Fields may be a more fitting choice at the four than Shawne Williams. Doing so could potentially assist Fields with getting back into a groove.
As the playoffs approach, Fields needs to regain his confidence. It’s been said all season long that good role players are needed on contending teams, so now is when and where the Knicks need him to be at his most efficient.
Fields needs to keep up his level of hustle, and stay focused in case one of his superstar teammates is double-teamed and needs to kick out the rock to him so that he can knock down an important shot.
Is Fields lack of consistency, efficiency and production a result of him finally struggling through every rookie’s given transition, or is he simply having trouble finding his place with the new-look Knicks, as a few have already this season?
Either way, while both are understandable for a player like Fields to go through, the Knicks need him to snap out of it. It’s time for him to step up once again, because in the playoffs, just about anyone’s number can be called, and anybody can become a hero overnight.
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