With 8:53 to go in the first quarter against the Mavericks on Wednesday night, Landry Fields did something unusual offensively outside of his usual putback dunk or backdoor layup. He caught the ball on the right wing and as if he was the focal point in the offense, he quickly attacked the lane, absorbed the contact and glided in for the reverse layup using his right hand. It was the kind of the move that helped make Fields a 22 points-per-game scorer at Stanford just a year ago.
While Fields leads all current starting shooting guards in field goal percentage (51.3, which ranks him fourth among all guards in the entire league), his 1.8 free throw attempts per game is only better or tied with six others in getting to the charity stripe. They include (in descending order): New Jersey's Anthony Morrow (1.8), Phoenix's Vince Carter (1.7), Oklahoma City's Thabo Sefolosha (1.3), Dallas' DeShawn Stevenson (0.9), Memphis' Sam Young (0.9) and Chicago's Keith Bogans (0.5). No. 6 made it clear that one of his priorities is to penetrate more.
"I’m starting to work on my drives right now and always maintaining that consistent jumper," Fields says. "I'm just trying to be that glue guy -- trying to remain aggressive, and pick and choose where I can be most successful in the offense."
Remarkably, though, he is tied for fifth in the league with the fewest free throw attempts per game while still averaging at least 10 points. The two other players he shares that recognition with are Wizards small forward Rashard Lewis (12.9 ppg) and Trail Blazers small forward Nicolas Batum (11.9 ppg). The guys below Fields in FTA but still at 10 ppg include (from fewest to most): Suns power forward Channing Frye (1.3 FTA, 11.2 ppg), Raptors point guard Jose Calderon (1.4 FTA, 10.3 ppg), Bobcats small forward Boris Diaw (1.5 FTA, 11.3 ppg) and Nuggets small forward Al Harrington (1.7 FTA, 11.9 ppg).
Want more? Here are the players with the fewest number of free throw attempts per game in a single season, while scoring at least 15 points, in NBA history:
Dale Ellis -- 1.4 FTA and 15.2 ppg with the San Antonio Spurs in 1993-1994
Dell Curry -- 1.6 FTA and 16.3 ppg with the Charlotte Hornets in 1993-1994
Dell Curry -- 1.6 FTA and 16.0 ppg with the Charlotte Hornets in 1989-1990
Wesley Person -- 1.6 FTA and 15.1 ppg with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2001-2002
Peja Stojakovic -- 1.8 FTA and 16.4 ppg with the New Orleans Hornets in 2007-2008
Dell Curry -- 2.0 FTA and 15.7 ppg with the Charlotte Hornets in 1991-1992
Source: The Elias Sports Bureau
Fields scoring 10 points per game without consistently being a slasher or sharpshooter, like the four players in the list above, really speaks to his potential. He already has a knack for scoring at close-range with his intangible playmaking without dribbling the ball to the basket. Can you imagine how much better he'd be if he did that more often? This season, he has shown flashes of first-step and breakaway brilliance.
When the Mavericks went on a 26-6 run in the third-quarter, it wasn't only the Knicks' poor rotation defense that got them into trouble, allowing four 3-pointers. Out of the 20 shots the Knicks took in that period, including makes, eight of those (40%) were missed outside jumpers. It is these types of sluggish 12-minute situations that have put their backs against the wall in multiple games this season, and sometimes they're able to grind it out in the fourth quarter -- and sometimes they can't.
Specifically in that third quarter, except for one free throw appearance by Toney Douglas, Danilo Gallinari was the only 'Bocker routinely getting to the line. He had five makes, but unfortunately they came with only 1:44 to go in the period. Overall, while Gallo has improved this area of his game and Amare Stoudemire continues to get to the stripe 8.1 times per outing -- tied for eighth in the league with none other than Carmelo Anthony -- the starting five could use another burst of dribble-drive energy from the wing in the halfcourt set. Maybe it'll be Wilson Chandler, who returns to action tonight against the 76ers after missing three games with a sore left calf. Or maybe Fields will be that guy. As his short, yet successful track record already proves, he can put in the work to make it happen.
On being named to the All-Star Rookie team: "Definitely looking forward to it. It's something that I really couldn't even envision myself, if you're talking at this time last year. High honor for me. Definitely blessed."
On his favorite All-Star memory: "The whole Vince Carter dunk contest [in 2000]. That was a crazy year for a dunk contest."
On what he's learned from guarding elite shooting guards, such as Dwyane Wade and Joe Johnson: "Just trying to take away as many options as possible because when you’re at this level offensively, you’re going to see superstars like that. They’re going to get theirs -- I just have to try to make it as tough as possible on them."
Fields and Andy Rautins, who are close friends on the team, are filming webisodes about their adventures in the Big Apple. "Basically me and Andy are new to New York, so we’re just taking it by storm, going to different places. It’s going to be interesting. It’s basically taking us out of our element of basketball and throwing us into the big New York City life. I think it’s pretty funny. It’s all kind of improv stuff, so you see us at our best. At first, it’s going to be played in the Garden a little bit, and I’m sure it’ll be on YouTube as well. Right now, it’s just some pilot episodes to see what the fans think" (The Knicks Blog Radio).
Raymond Felton on Fields' rookie campaign: "He’s one of the best rookies in this league. He’s been doing a great job for us and in my opinion, he’s got to be up for the running for the Rookie of the Year along with Blake Griffin and John Wall too. You’ve got to put him up there in that argument – no question about that."
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