A year after missing 64 games to hip and knee injuries, Carl Landry made a successful comeback to form.
Unfortunately the Sacramento Kings couldn’t find the 31-year-old big man a definitive role. Landry began the season as the team’s top scoring option off the bench, often used as an undersized center. Then his minutes waned as the Kings subbed faster players to run their up-tempo offense. By the latter half of the schedule, Landry would start at power forward on a given day, or pick up a “DNP – Coach’s Decision” as head coach George Karl toyed with his personnel.
Even with the uncertainty of his job, Landry remained a professional in the locker room. Just as importantly, he proved in a lost Sacramento season that he can still contribute to the club moving forward. In 70 appearances (15 starts), Landry produced 7.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 17 minutes a game.
Landry is set to make $6.5 million annually for the next two seasons. He is halfway through a four-year, $26 million free agent contract.
A nifty and creative scorer in the paint, Landry enjoyed his eighth straight season shooting over 50 percent from the floor. He doled his damage in the restricted area, where he took 42 percent of his shots and made 61.3 percent. Between eight feet and the hoop, Landry hit 56.2 percent of his looks.
Where the eight-year veteran shined more than usual was from mid-range. Landry was money between 10 and 16 feet of the basket, scoring a career-high 56.5 percent of attempts. Between 15 and 19 feet, the big took 31.2 percent of his field goal attempts and connected on 47 percent.
Landry wasn’t in the best shape this season, but it didn’t prevent him from crashing the offensive boards. The 6-foot-9, 250-pounder pulled down 1.4 offensive careens per game, or three per 36 minutes. His ability to finish put-backs in traffic made his offensive rebounding prowess even more valuable.
The most reliable sign of Landry’s restored health may have been his defense. He held opponent to 3.8 percent below their regular field goal percentage overall, and used his low center of gravity and light feet to limit assignments 6.9 percent under their typical accuracy 10 feet and closer to the hoop. Landry achieved this despite landing just 0.5 blocks per 36 minutes.
An unresolved issue throughout Landry’s career has been his struggles with defensive rebounding. This year facing mostly reserves, he hauled in 2.4 per match, equating to 5.1 per 36 minutes. Landry’s 15.5 defensive rebounding percentage was a tick above his career rate of 14.9. Surely DeMarcus Cousins and Reggie Evans can’t steal every board.
Landry’s weight may have played a factor into this, and it definitely hurt his effectiveness in the fast break game. When Jason Thompson was benched in favor of Landry late in the season, Karl noted that Thompson could run the floor better with Andre Miller, making Landry’s promotion somewhat less earned.
The efficient scorer took care of the rock with 1.6 turnovers per 36 minutes, but his first and second instinct was to score. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Landry dished merely 0.8 assists per 36 minutes. His 3.6 assist percentage was the second-lowest of his career, with the season before taking first.
Landry’s defensive numbers were also a bit misleading. The big was so awful closing out shooters on the perimeter, Kings coaches rarely let him have the opportunity. Stretch fours like Ryan Anderson, Draymond Green and LaMarcus Aldridge were poor mismatches when Landry was tasked to slow them.
As the Kings keep searching for an answer at the four, Landry will likely remain in the mix as a candidate to start next to Cousins. But at his age and current salary, the rebuilding franchise would entertain about any offer exploring the veteran in a trade.
Landry’s niche is set in stone at this point, and he’s a valuable rotation player with the toughness and offensive touch you’d like to see in an NBA big. However his classic style of play didn’t seem an ideal fit with Karl’s system after a decent yet unspectacular end to the season.
Whatever uniform Landry dons next season, his fitness level entering training camp will be a factor in his production.
Cowbell Kingdom would like your opinion. How do you grade Carl Landry’s season?
This is part nine of our continuing “Season in Review” series. Below are links to the first eight articles.