Before the Knicks traded for Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups on Feb. 22, second-round pick Landry Fields was the league's most surprising rookie, averaging 10 points and 7.2 rebounds in 53 games.
But then he turned into Brick Tamland, the distant fourth in the starting lineup after Melo, Billups and Amare Stoudemire, and his inconsistent performances led to bench players Bill Walker and Shawne Williams getting more playing time.
Then the Knicks' first-round playoff matchup against the Celtics arrived, and that's when Fields' outlook on things took a turn for the worse. After New York was swept, he started thinking about the team upgrading at shooting guard. But now, he says, he's prepared to not let his game "shrink" again, as he calls it, playing alongside the Big Three.
"I've thought about that a little bit, especially towards the end of last season right when it ended," he said. "But over the summer, I've gotten a lot more confident, and going into this year I'd say it's a lot better."
On Monday morning, Fields joined Anthony, Toney Douglas, Andy Rautins, and rookies Iman Shumpert and Josh Harrellson at the Knicks' training facility for voluntary workouts (Stoudemire was a no-show). Afterward, Fields addressed reporters and admitted fatigue was one of the main factors for his fall-off during the second half of the season.
"I think it was a number of things, trying to get used to the way we were playing and then 82 games, add on preseason, all the practices, it could have been a rookie wall," he said. "I definitely felt some fatigue towards the end, but I'm not here to make excuses. I know this year is going to be a lot better."
The bulked-up Fields said his No. 1 focus in the offseason was adjusting his instincts on the court and in his mind. He rented a place in Los Angeles where he worked out with his personal trainer Miles Simon, a former University of Arizona standout, and joined pickup games with Rautins, fellow teammate Roger Mason Jr. and other NBA players.
"A lot of people look at post-trade and all that stuff, and the mentality I had," he said. "I really wanted to work on that -- a lot of drives and finishes, and consistency with the shot. With us in our offense, I worked on a lot of corner shots, a lot of wing mostly towards the sidelines. That was kind of the focus. It's also just having a short-term memory. You may miss a shot, but in your mind you think you made it. It's just not getting caught up in the past. It's like a next-play mentality."
Fields recognizes that the dynamics of the team changed when Melo arrived. But he prides himself on being a player who's able to adapt to any situation, and strongly believes he's going to be a lot better this season.
But as far as being the clear-cut starting shooting guard? Fields is not as certain.
"Personally I always like to think that," he said, "but it's going to come down to the coaches and what they feel is going to be best for the team."
Fans will be glad to know at least the focus and hard work will be there. Fields has no intentions yet of bringing back his "Andy and Landry" off-the-court comedic show.
"It's a short season, so I don't want too many distractions."
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