What you are about to read is an undeniably insane rush to judgment. All of it may turn out to be true. None of it may turn out to be true. Most likely, some of it will.
I have officially wiped the slates clean for Rautins, Fields and Jordan. The only thing I have judged them on is what they have done so far in Summer League. Is this fair? No. But I'm judgmental and this type of stuff is fun for me.
A few of my friends are big-time Syracuse fans, and all of them liked Andy Rautins. He was clutch, he was great in that zone defense, he was a team leader and he improved every year. What more can you ask for in a college player? Rautins's strengths are his shooting ability and his toughness. His weaknesses are his lack of athleticism and his consequent poor man-defense. From what I saw in college, Rautins was more than just a shooter. What I saw in college is turning out to be just plain wrong.
Although I'm the biggest proponent of the "It's only Summer League" mentality, there is a general rule of thumb when you are dealing with Summer League. If a player is very good in Summer League, that's a pretty good sign. If a player is very bad in Summer League, that's a very, very bad sign. You see, players who are capable of playing in the NBA typically do pretty well in Las Vegas, sometimes pushing it to the point of showing off (just ask Anthony Morrow, Reggie Williams, Anthony Randolph, Nate Robinson, etc.). Hell, capable NBA players having a really bad summer still show that they belong on the floor and will sporadically abuse whoever is guarding them (just ask Bill Walker).
Andy Rautins, in each of the three games he's played in so far this summer, has looked like the worst player on the floor for stretches of clock. Never has he been the worst player on the floor thoughout the game (well, maybe once), but looking as bad as he has even for stretches, is a bad omen.
I like Andy Rautins and I know that what I'm saying is recklessly premature. I just worry when our newest "great shooter" goes 4-14 from three and 28% total from the floor. He isn't missing tough shots, either. He's missing wide open gimmes with no one in front of him. I worry.
Player Comparison: Eddie House
When you don't show up on anybody's draft radar and a team takes you with the 39th overall pick, you had better be ready to show the management, coaching staff and fans something. It doesn't matter what, really, but you better have an NBA skill and start using it right away.
So far, from Landry Fields, I've seen several.
First, it's impossible not to notice Fields's efficiency. He's shooting 55% overall. A lot of these are on put-backs, as he is also second on the team in offensive rebounding with six, which is great because it shows he has the rare skill of scoring without having plays called for him.
Second, you have to marvel Fields's intelligence. When I watch basketball, like many other intelligent fans, I scream "Draw some contact!" when a player is shooting and missing. It's the best way to remedy a scoring drought and among the most efficient ways to get points. Of course, when you're hitting your shots there is no point in trying to draw contact. Fields did just that; hit his shots, for the first two games. In the third game, he realized his shot was not falling, so he used various counter-moves and fakes around the basket to draw fouls and get to the line Thirteen(!) times. That's on some Dwyane Wade shit. This speaks to his intelligence and recognition of the correct basketball play.
Third, as I just touched on, Landry Fields is and will forever be a very good rebounder. He is second on the team in offensive boards and first in overall rebounds. The guy beating him in offensive rebounds is seven feet tall. He was a superb rebounder in college, averaging nearly nine per game in his senior season, and it has translated to Summer League. I expect Fields to rebound efficiently in the NBA and pull in about one board for every five or six minutes of playing time.
The most major complaint I have about Fields is his lack of passing. Although he is not a ball-stopper by any means and he moves the ball fluidly along the perimeter, he has only compiled 2 assists in three games. Fields is seeing enough playing time for that number to be higher, but I suspect the coaches do not mind so long as he's developing in other categories.
Something else I wanted to address is Fields's defense. He has played pretty solid and is actually second on the team to Toney Douglas in steals, with six, doubling third place.
Player Comparisons: Less talented version of either Marvin Williams or Al Thornton
Jerome Jordan is as raw as the day is long, pause. He's a seven foot squid with long arms and silly movements. He can and will set illegal screens and fouls off the ball in general very often. The only few things I wanted to say about him are:
- He doesn't have very good hands. Now, I know this has to do with him being a raw talent, but I feel like that's a skill that should arrive first.
- His concept of the pick and roll is sub-par and he needs to work 2-on-2 drills as soon and as often as he can. He seems to understand the gyst of it, but when he rolls off he needs to learn to expect the pass rather than acting surprised he got it.
- He has absolutely humongous strides, even for a 7-footer. He had a play during which he fakes a hand-off around the three-point line, then spun and drove to the rim in three total steps for a dunk.
- His post defense really isn't too bad. I haven't gotten to stare at his footwork or anything, not that I'm an expert anyway, but he hasn't gotten abused. The Knicks have been giving up way too many points in the paint, but that should be taken with a grain of salt due to the level of big men they've been playing against.
- He can block shots, but again the fouling gets in the way. The talent is definitely there, but the anticipation needs work.
Player Comparison: DJ Mbenga
Again, this is after just three games. These are just my thought on what I notice from each player.
Snap out of it, Andy!