As many of y’all have probably already heard, second-round draft pick, rookie Landy Fields, has surprisingly won the starting shooting guard spot for opening night. It had seemed like Wilson Chandler had it wrapped up (particularly with potential best SG fit Kelenna Azubuike still recovering from injury), with Toney Douglas’ inspired play having possibly given him a shot. So it was quite a shock that Landry, who did have good preseason and summer league performances, came out on top. A couple of brief thoughts on it:
1. Realize that this is merely our opening night starting crew, and there’s an excellent chance this changes as the season goes on. As expected, Timofey Mozgov will be starting at center, but like I’ve mentioned before, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he eventually was moved to the bench due to his foul troubles and a potential desire to have more shooters on the floor. We’d then move Amar’e Stoudemire to center and have either Chandler of Danilo Gallinari play power forward. Likewise, should Azubuike come back strong, or if Toney or Chandler step their games up, they could take over for Landry. And of course if Anthony Randolph ever figures things out and produces in the way that everyone’s dreamed, he should be able to force himself into the starting lineup.
2. The interesting thing about Landry starting is that one of the many things he’s been praised for is the energy he brings. Which is usually what you want from a bench guy rather than a starter. That way if the starters ain’t getting it done, your energy guy comes in and gets the team going. Or if the starters have been playing great, then your energy guy comes in and makes sure there’s no let down.
3. However, to best understand the decision, probably it’s less about the added value of Landry starting and more about the added value of Chandler coming off the bench. Chandler can sub in for the 2, 3 or 4 spot, giving the Knicks more flexibility in case any of those starters get into foul trouble. Also, Chandler can drive to create his own shot, which that second unit desperately needs since many of them aren’t creators but they have good jump shots (like Bill Walker, Roger Mason, Toney Douglas, and Ronny Turiaf). Likewise, Coach Mike D’Antoni probably chose to not start Toney so he could come in to run the point if Raymond Felton gets into foul trouble. Lastly, Chandler sometimes isn’t that aggressive in driving, so if he started he might be somewhat passive with Felton, Stat and Gallo mostly initiating the offense.
4. I think the key with Landry keeping the job might actually lie not in hustle/glue-guy-ness but rather in whether or not he can reliably hit the three. With Mozgov having limited range and Felton not being a great outside shooter, opposing defenses will only need to worry about keeping one guy glued to Gallo while the rest can pack the paint, daring our F’n guards (Fields & Felton) to shoot.