The last stretch for the Raptors has been interesting to say the least. Since DeMar went down, Toronto has played 13 games. First, a stretch of 3-2 ball with Vasquez in his place, then a stretch of 5-1 with Fields starting, and finally a 1-1 split against NYK and CHI when Johnson started in Fields' place. Overall, the team is doing very well considering such a huge piece is missing.
That said, both looking at the records in those stretches, and the defense played in those games, there appears to be one significant lynch pin in the Raptors' success: Landry Fields.
Let's take a look at the two sets of games - both about equal size, six games with Fields playing and seven without him. First, from an overall team defense point of view.
Without Landry Fields:
Opp eFG%: 53%
Opp TOV Rate: 11%
Defensive Rebound Rate: 68%
Opp FT Rate: 27%
With Landry Fields:
Opp eFG%: 49%
Opp TOV Rate: 14%
Defensive Rebound Rate: 75%
Opp FT Rate: 18%
The team not only improved defensively with Fields, but actually dramatically improved every one of the four key factors for winning (defensively, anyway).
It should be noted this is not just Fields on the court versus off the court - his presence allows James Johnson to stay with the bench unit. It also allows Terrence Ross to play all his minutes at the 2, where he is much more effective defensively, rather than spending time at the 3 with both the starters and the bench. Take a look at the other players' defensive rating impacts in games where Fields played versus didn't play.
Player | DRTG With Fields | DRTG Without Fields
Ross | 103.7 | 122.3
J. Johnson | 101.8 | 117.9
So even Johnson, who basically never plays with Fields on the court at the same time, is far more effective defensively when he is able to play with the bench and in shorter minutes. And Ross of course looks much better defending the 2 than the 3.
In conclusion: please come back, Landry. We need you.