Fields' three-point opportunities should be of a higher quality in Toronto.
Fields’ three-point opportunities should be of a higher quality in Toronto.

The key to Landry Fields’ season could very well lie in his three point shooting ability.

As a rookie in 2010-11, Fields connected on 39% of his attempts from long range, putting him on the map as a potential floor-spacing weapon for the Knicks moving forward. In 2011-12, though, his three point efficiency tanked, falling to just 26%. Fields essentially went from being a sharpshooter to being someone who shouldn’t be allowed to shoot from outside.

While Fields does other things well on the floor, specifically rebounding and the “little things” that tend not to make the boxscore, most of his offensive value is derived from his shooting. So if Fields is a sharpshooter after all, the three year, $19M contract the Raptors gave him this offseason won’t seem too outlandish. But if he continues to be an offensive zero, it will look like quite the overpay for a contributing role player, likely one who will eventually come off the bench.

Playing with ‘Melo
So why did Fields’ three point efficiency drop off? A lot of the blame has been placed on the Knicks’ offense in 2011-12, specifically the impact of playing with ball stoppers Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire.

Late in the 2010-11 season, the Knicks acquired Anthony from the Nuggets and he played 27 games with them down the stretch. Fields’ three point shooting clips for the season had been 28.6%, 42.9%, 42.5% and 48.5% in November, December, January and February respectively. In March and April, those numbers fell to 38.9% and 25.0%.

So while Fields has played his entire career with Stoudemire, the anecdotal evidence that adding another ball stopper to the offense impeded Fields seems to be backed up by the first cursory glance at the split stats.

In fact, despite playing just 27 of 82 games together, Fields appeared with Anthony quite often, and five man units including both players were Fields’ fourth, fifth, seventh, ninth and tenth most common units. It seems playing with Ray Felton, Wilson Chandler and Danillo Gallinari agreed with his game more than playing with Chauncey Billups and Anthony.

It may actually have been the loss of Felton that had the bigger impact, as Felton’s assist rate generally hovers around 30%, compared to 25% in recent years for Billups and 20% for Toney Douglas, the other guard he played significant time with after the trade. If we look to last year, Jeremy Lin wasn’t quite a ball stopper but also had just a 27% assist rate, while Fields also spent significant time with Douglas, Iman Shumpert (19% assist rate) and Baron Davis (usually around 30% the past few years), none of whom would be confused with facilitating point guards.

Offensive Schemes
The narrative makes sense – offensive players who tend to have a lot of isolations run for them and who have low assist rates don’t foster strong ball movement. Ball movement not only involves everyone and spreads the touches around, but it also forces defensive rotations that can turn contested jump shots into poorly contested or uncontested ones. Picture a play where four players stand around the outside while a player dribbles in isolation – each defender can stay on their man with relative ease. But if the ball is being moved more, with screens or a pick-and-roll at the core of the set, every defender is moving his feet and can be forced to switch, putting a much greater focus on defensive awareness and communication, improving the chances for defensive breakdowns.

Now in Toronto, Fields finds himself playing with Kyle Lowry, who has roughly a 30% career baseline assist rate, and Jose Calderon, whose baseline generally sits above 40%. Fields is now playing in a more motion-oriented offense with point guards who are historically more focused on setting up teammates. Since 86% of Fields’ three point attempts were of the spot-up variety last year, it seems imperative that Fields be created for through the flow of the offense.

If we look at the comparison below, we see that Fields’ more successful season also saw him have a much larger share of his buckets come directly after a pass. The amount of assisted baskets he scored dropped from 70% to 61%, while the drop was even more significant for jump shots.

We can also see that Fields’ shooting fell across the board, but the drop was almost negligible on mid-range shots, providing hope that his jump shot may not be broken or flawed, but he just had three point opportunities that were of a poorer quality last year.

Looking Forward
We have already seen in just two preseason games that the presence of Jonas Valnciunas as a dive-man can cause trouble for a defense and require them to focus more attention in the paint. This can open up players at the elbow and in the corner, places that Calderon is very strong at finding teammates. If Kyle Lowry can replicate this ability to make passes out of the pick and roll, Fields should be afforded some better opportunities than he was last year. In addition, if Andrea Bargnani, a frequent target as a pop-man from the pick and pop, can identify situations where an extra pass can be of benefit, the offense should be able to get adequate touches for three outside shooters (I’m including Calderon or Lowry with Fields and Bargnani).

Of course, I didn’t see much Knicks tape from the past two years, no more than a normal non-Knicks fan basketball junkie would have, anyway. So it’s entirely possible that the fact that the numbers match up well with the narrative of Fields’ shooting woes is just a coincidence, and his shot is actually broken or his confidence shaken. It’s also possible that the usage demands of Bargnani, Lowry, and DeMar DeRozan could limit Fields’ touches, and he’ll be utilized more as a screener and rebounder than an offensive weapon. There is still much to be seen about the 2012-13 offense, considering we’re yet to see the starting point guard in action.

With that said, it doesn’t seem to be too much of a stretch to suggest that 2011-12 was an explicably poor outlier season for Fields as a shooter. He may have been over his head as a 30% marksman, but a more movement-oriented offense with players more willing to share the ball should help Fields return to be an effective spacing weapon.


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  • 2damkule

    bah, numbers…derr, graphs…nerd!  herp derp.

  • Theswirsky

    I think its difficult to look at how Fields shooting changed over the last 2 seasons and narrow the reasoning to exclusively Carmelo and/or ball movement.

    Did Melo and ball movement effect his ft%  that dropped 20%?  Did Melo and ball movement effect his fg%  at the rim that dropped 8%?

    From Feb 8- 19th Melo was out with injury, and Jeremy Lin was all the rage.

    Lin’s Assist percentage was 41% while Fields 3pt was 23%

    So the change in the team make up and play may have had an adverse effect on Fields, but I think there was a large issue at play.  Change in his shot mechanics?  An undiscussed injury?  Lack of confidence?  Woman making his knees weak?

    • Nilanka15

      I was thinking the same in regards to your last paragraph.  We can analyze the lineups until we’re blue in the face, but Fields’ inaccuracy could simply be a mental issue.  Think Nick Anderson, but to a lesser extent.

    • mountio

      Agree 100%. I look at Fields shoot the ball this year – and he just doesnt look confident and his stroke does not look good. Obviously a small sample size … but when you compare Ross shooting an open J to Feilds, its night and day. Ross’s shoot looks smooth and HE thinks its going in. Landry looks like hes forcing it and hes hoping he gets a good bounce froma friendly rim.
      Is that injury? Maybe .. but if it affected him last year and still this year, Im not sure what type of injury that would be.
      Confidence .. that could definitely be it. Im hoping that Lowry comes in and gets this guy some easy open looks .. cause right now, it aint lookin good for him.

      • Daniel

        I’m reading all these expectations placed on Lowry regarding our offense that I don’t even know how to define them. It’s as if Lowry is not in his 7th season, as if we didn’t have already one of the best passer in NBA, as if the teammates are not well-known quantities in NBA (except Jonas and Ross). He’s treated nothing short of a Saviour both defensively and offensively. This must be the most delusional and in the same time the most abused fanbase in NBA. It doesn’t help that Colangelo and Casey contributed in building these crazy expectations for marketing or positive reinforcement reasons.
        In 3 years we’ll look back at the fact that 96% of the RR readership liked the Lowry move and we’ll understand better what is right and what is wrong with it. 

        • mountio

          There is a difference between being a good passer (ie knowing how to throw good, accurate passes, having nice touch, making good decisions) – this is what Jose is .. and creating open shots for your teamates (beating your man off the dribble, forcing help defense and getting your teamates wide open shots) – Jose never did this. The best PGs in the league do this all the time (parker, rose, rondo, westbrook, CP3 and so on).
          I personally am not 100% convinced Lowry can do this (I hope so), but I am 100% convinced that Jose can not .. so this can only help our shooters relative to what they have had the last few years.
          This doesnt mean Jose is a bad player .. just means that this is one aspect of the game that he is not good at.  

  • AB7.38pt.on.CB4

    IMO we should not see Fields as a 3 point spot up shooter, aka Rasual Butler role last year.Fields is a smart player who just happened to play terrible basketball last year in NY with Carmelo. 
    Fields is an up tempo player,who rebounds, can finish in traffic, facilitate pick and roll and can be fearless.
    Every player to perform a confident state of mind generated by his Coach,Teammates and supporters.
    It didn’t with Mike Woodson and Melo

    • mountio

      Well .. we certainly shouldnt see him that we if hes a mid 20%s 3 point shooter!
      I agree, he does seem to bring some good intangibles .. good garbage collector mentality, right place right time, sets good screens, etc. But – not sure we have enough talent on this team for JUST that. We at least need him to stick some open jumpers as well.

  • j bean

    This doesn’t look like a team that will make the extra pass to set up a Landry Fields. AB and DD both think that when they touch the ball they should score. 

  • paul

    “Fields is now playing in a more motion-oriented offense with point guards
    who are historically more focused on setting up teammates”

    this line alone gives me goose bumps! Isn’t that supposed to be what good
    points do?!

    And as you and everybody who knows is saying…Jonas is opening up more

    This all sounds exciting to me!

    IF it starts working…look then for defenses to stay outside a little and
    then the bigs start getting better overnight.

    I am excited about the season….

    But remember, I am an recovering Cubs fan…so this preseason visions of
    grander is being treated with therapy.

  • c_bcm

    I don’t think there is enough of a sample size with Fields to start splitting up his career into units of “productive era” and “unproductive era”. Lets call this what it is. Its a gamble. We hope, and BC hopes, that the gamble pays off.

    I appreciate your use of the scientific method to (1) generate a hypothesis, (2) test the hypothesis by looking at stats, (3) interpreting the results and relating it back to your hypothesis, and (4) reporting your opinion educated based on your findings. However, I just don’t think any of us can form a strong enough opinion on this guy just yet.

  • Bendit

    LF’s 3 pt %age in college was an avg of 34% (4 yrs). His avg the past 2 yrs was about  32%. With the ncaa distance being shorter I would say that the stats are consistent. When I first saw LF in his rookie year I was struck by what a “good” basketball player he was (including attitude/team oriented) not… that he was an excellent 3 pt. shooter. His value is in how many aspects of the game he does well. There is it seems too much emphasis being put on his 3 pt shot. If that’s what BC was looking for he should have signed Novak…a somewhat one dimensional player.  

    • mountio

      I would have loved if we signed Novak. At least he is elite at something (and something that our team needs badly, btw). His contract is much more resonable than Landry at #3.5-4m per year over the next four.

      • cesco

         We already have PF’s coming out of our ears .

        • mountio

          Novak is not a PF. Ya, he might be listed as 6’10” .. but he plays like a SF (closer to a SG than a PF .. thats for sure)  

  • Slap Dog Hoops

    Landry is a much better player than many give him credit for.  And you were correct in mentioning that his drop in in 3pt FG% was due to Carmelo dominating the ball with the Knicks.  He has the making of a pretty good clutch player as he has very good shot mechanics and has the ability to get himself open when need be.  He was a solid pickup for the Raptors and will definately make his impact felt on the league.

  • Don

    Any word on when Raptors 2nd round draft pick Tomislav Zubcic will get some playing time? Am really excited to see what this immensely talented kid can do.

    • Nilanka15

      My guess is that we’ll never see him in a Raptors uniform.

  • FAQ

    Sorta pathetic…. Raptors always scraping, dredging, paying for better players and getting dross.

    • 2damkule


    • 511

      As my sweet old grandma might’ve said, “son, you’re up and down more than a hoo-er’s drawers on payday.”

  • Kdel

    he’s just not that good u’ll see he’ too focus on his model girlfriend…loooooooser!!!!!!