In the next NBA season, I personally am not looking forward to watching anyone in O&B as much as I am looking forward to watching Landry Fields, my favourite Knickerbocker.
Though I might be of a rare commodity on this front [don't know if I am/will soon find out], I believe in Fields' resolve and am merely waiting in lockout purgatory for the inevitable show to begin. Considering the way his season ended, it's flourish or fall. Because, let's call a spade a spade, his 1st round appearance against Boston was an abomination. It was the proverbial nail in Fields' 2010 coffin after the Carmelo Anthony trade, which leads me to my next point.
For any of those who payed attention, The Melo Trade rocked Fields' comfort zone in NY. Not only was there an overwhelming sense of unfamiliarity with new team mates as a rookie, Fields saw less of the ball, any play that had his number was scratched to make way for Chauncey and Melo, his rebounding and off ball play offensively were nullified, and, for some reason or other, his shot became the equivalent of **** on toast. In that 25-30 game stretch, Fields was over looked by a scrambling D'Antoni, who suddenly had a team that he himself hadn't chosen: flabbergasted, discombobulated, D'Antoni chose isolations for stars, which was the supernova for Fields' effectiveness.
Inevitably, Fields found himself on the back burner. Then, for the first time in a long time, Fields couldn't rely on intellect to overcome the unavoidable, and the result was telling.
Which leads me to my next point.
Often touted as a great mind, I have no doubt that Fields' intelligence, mixed in with some self fused frustration, will be the right concoction to help reforge and re-establish his role effectively once the NBA's next season commences.
I'm laying it out right now for all the doubters.
Landry Fields will return with a vendetta against the nay sayers next season.
If, and only if, he is incorporated by Mike D under the same premise he was incorporated in before the Melo trade, the Boston series will soon be forgotten.
6'7 - 210 - athletic - intelligent - strong - intangible mastermind - determined.
Quite the pantry of ingredients.
But, as we know, it's what you do with it that makes it delicious.
In preparation, Fields has been undergoing some system tweaks
Coach Macri serves as a player development consultant for the Pro Training Center and Coach David Thorpe, working with a variety of NBA players on their skills and game understanding.
For Landry Fields, a large part of what we work on would be his handle. Fields tends to be a little loose with it, and our focus would be getting him to understand the benefits of the ball exploding off his fingertips toward the floor. We refer to this method of dribbling as "hammering nails." The idea is to imagine the gym floor has 500 half popped nails. We want to use the ball like a hammer, slamming it into the floor with each dribble, pounding the ball so that it would proverbially hammer those nails into the wood. Every drill that involves handling the basketball would have that focus, and any scrimmage or live gameplay, Fields (and the other players) would get a pretty constant stream of the demand to "hammer nails." By dribbling the ball hard, it spends less time in the air, and more time in our hand, where we have more control. In addition, if we encourage players to dribble so hard that they start making mistakes, that is how their handle improves. Their confidence with the ball gets higher, and they become a more dangerous ball-handling machine.
Fields already possesses a tight, compact form. It is consistent and he does a very good job of keeping it smooth and efficient. Mayo, on the other hand, tends to be very inconsistent with his shot, and his form can be refined considerably, which would result in a considerable increase in his make percentage from the perimeter. In fact, a few small changes and a focus on shot selection would push him over .400 in 3-point shooting percentage, up from the .364 he shot this past season.
The last piece on the shooting topic that would be critical for both Mayo and Fields is the addition of the "freeze fake" to their games. The freeze fake is different from the shot fake – in a freeze fake, the player's motion raises the ball from the chest to the chin, keeping the hips down and knees bent. The idea here is only to freeze the defender – not necessarily to get them to jump to block the shot – just to keep them off balance. Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Martin are two players who use freeze fakes with regularity in their games – to great success. Every day shooting with Mayo and Fields would include not just catch and shoot opportunities, but also catch, freeze fake, and shoot opportunities. The idea is that the freeze fake stops the defender, and can by the shooter another second to get off a shot that would have been too heavily challenged otherwise.
In the case of both O.J. Mayo and Landry Fields, the goal is to refine their attack and give them new points of focus – small techniques that can have a huge impact on the way they play the game. In the last article in this series, we'll look at some specific priorities for small forwards, which will include the notion of catch and attack (which would also be a huge part of what we'd do with Mayo and Fields).
2012: The Year Of The Half-Blood Prince.
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