November 4, 2012
Raptors want more from Fields
By Mike Ganter, QMI Agency
If there is one Raptor more under the gun three games into the season than anyone else on the roster it has to be Landry Fields.
From a public standpoint, Fields was already a focal point, deserved or not, after signing a three-year $19-million offer sheet with the Raptors.
That criticism is unwarranted. Fields was in the right place at the right time.
But even as early as it is in the season, Fields, and more precisely his starting role, is starting to be questioned.
For much of the pre-season the team line was Fields’ contributions would not show up on the stat sheet. And they haven’t. His biggest value is what he opens up for his teammates offensively with his cuts off the ball, by running the floor hard, and with his defensive work.
But for the first time since he became a Raptor, Fields is publicly being asked for more by his head coach.
Dwane Casey chose his words carefully but the message was clear. As much as Fields does off the ball, the Raptors need to see more.
“(He’s) still picking up the system and we’re not putting a lot of credence into (his start),” Casey said. “We knew he wasn’t going to be a 15- or 20-point-a-night guy but the type of things he does that are very effective as far as running the floor, cutting without the basketball — we have to get more of that from him. Defensively he’s doing a solid job but we’re not grading performance. We probably need a few more points from him but just get him in transition, running the floor and a bit more cutting. We gave him a few post ups and he has to be productive on those. But we’re not over-reacting at all.”
It’s no secret the Raps don’t run a lot of offensive sets for Fields. They ran a few set plays for him in Brooklyn to keep him engaged and to let him know he’s an important part of what the Raptors are trying to do, but the bottom line is they’re far more concerned with seeing an increase in the non-statistic driven contributions than points on the scoreboard.
For the year Fields has played a little over 22 minutes a night, gone 3-for-14 from the field with 10 rebounds and 5 assists.
But again the stats don’t tell the whole story. Nevertheless, the Raps do need more of the off the ball stuff from him.
Putting it in Perspective
Casey and his coaching staff went to great lengths to emphasize how solid for the most part the Raptors have been this year despite the 0-2 start in the pre-game.
Take away the last five minutes of the loss to Indy and the first six minutes of the second quarter in the loss to Brooklyn and the Raptors were up by a collective 11 points in the two losses. In those 11 minutes they were torched a combined 27-7.
That’s a plus-11 in 85 good minutes and minus 20 in 11 bad ones.
The message was clear. Even with an 0-2 record, the Raps were controlling over 88% of the game. Improve that other 12% and good things would happen.
That’s what happened Sunday night and it’s why the Raptors are heading off on a two-game road trip feeling good about themselves rather than dragging an 0-3 start.
It’s not quite there, but for the first time since the regular season began, Casey is starting to see the defensive focus that was worrying him throughout the pre-season.
“We talked before the game about having a defensive focus,” Casey said. “The first two games, yeah we scored a lot of points, but when it was for real we lost our defensive focus. We really hadn’t gotten it. I was preaching it in training camp. We hadn’t really taken that step where we need to go defensively. I thought (Sunday) we did take a little step forward in creating those turnovers. They still shot 45% but we had a lot more possessions because of the turnovers.”
The Timberwolves turned the ball over a stunning 24 times in the game leading to 32 Raptors points.