Hey again! So after my somewhat controversial FanPost on Iman Shumpert I'm back to talk about that other wing player we stole in the draft: Landry Fields. Landry was one of the most loved Knicks during his rookie season. Today, many of us can't wait to push him out the door. Considering the Knicks' cap situation, though, that may not be the best idea.
First of all, let's get this out of the way: Landry Fields looked pretty awful last year. He completely lost his jumpshot, and found his minutes diminishing as well by the end of the season. He's a decent man defender, but far from extraordinary. The box score and eye test seemed to agree on this one. Landry made a lot of us very sad.
Here's the thing: Advanced stats love Landry Fields. I have little clue why. His FT% and 3PT% both tanked last year, and his FG% dropped as well, and yet he still somehow posted a Wins Produced per 48 minutes (WP48) of .181, good for 48th in the league.* According to Wins Produced, Landry was still the second best player on the team last season despite his enormous regression. A ton of work exists to point to the corrolation between Wins Produced and games won, so there may be something here. I don't take Berri and his ascriber's word as gospel, but they've been very vocal in their support of Landry for some time. Also, it may be of interest to note that they correctly predicted the success of Jeremy Lin in the NBA. This isn't just some mumbo-jumbo mishmash of meaningless numbers, here.
Okay, but maybe you still aren't sold. You get that he has a very nice WP48, but what does that even mean? I hear you. I think the same thing sometimes. Maybe you want some harder evidence.
Here it is: Landry Fields appears in every one of the Knicks top 4 lineups last season (by +/-). NY's offensive efficiency with Landry off the court was 104.4; with Landry on the floor it jumps up to 106.4. The Knick's defensive efficiency recieved an even bigger jump: leaping from 104.7 to 100.4.** These numbers are pretty firm. Plus/minus is little more than counting points scored versus points allowed. There is no doubt here: The Knicks were likely better on both offense and defense while Landry was playing. There could be a variety of reasons why this would be the case, but I won't get into those right now. The point is that, for whatever reason, the Knicks prospered while playing Landry Fields last season.
According to Wins Produced, Landry Fields was a top 10 player in the NBA during the 2010-2011 season. He suffered a precipitous fall to 48th last season, but that is still well worth the $20 million contract on the table. I would be more wary of re-signing him if it had severe salary cap implications, but considering the position the Knicks have put themselves in following the Lin, Kidd, and Camby contracts in addition to the existing Melo, STAT, and Chandler deals New York would be paying the luxury tax either way. His contract would expire right before the ultra-punitive repeater tax rolls into effect, so we're really only talking about Dolan and Cablevision paying tens of millions for the trouble. He's been willing to pay money to build a winner in the past. This is asking a lot, even of someone with the depth of his pockets, but that isn't reason enough for me to speak against matching the Landry Fields offer sheet.
"60 RACKZ IN MY POCKET!" -Landry Fields
* - If you have no idea what Wins Produced means, find a couple hours to spare and peruse wagesofwins.com and thenbageek.com. You don't need to worship these stats, but it will only help you to understand what they mean.
** - All stats per 82games.com.