"Talking to some people today, he reminds them of John Havlicek when he first came into the league," Walsh said.
"And I think that's right on. [Havlicek was] like that, a great athlete, known as a defensive player who improved his shooting as he got along, but was always a good all-around player who just kept getting better."
PROMISED LANDRY: Knicks rookie Landry Fields lets out a shout after slamming home two points against the Raptors earlier this month.
"A great all-around player who was a key to those Celtics. I think Landry can be that."
It's amazing what Fields has accomplished after many NBA scouts thought he wouldn't be drafted. The second-round pick is leading all NBA guards in rebounding average at 7.6, has eight double-doubles, won Rookie of the Month for November, leads the Knicks (17-12) in plus-minus and is in the Rookie of the Year conversation.
The Knicks' starting shooting guard, averaging 10.4 points on 51.5 percent shooting, probably would be the favorite if the Clippers' Blake Griffin were ineligible, which some believe should be the case. Griffin was the 2009 No. 1 pick, but missed his rookie year with a knee injury.
Although Fields is modest, he was confident enough to claim the No. 6 jersey -- LeBron James' number -- during July's eye-opening summer league showing in Las Vegas, after which Dan D'Antoni, coaching that team, said, "He makes hustling look easy."
Fields appreciates the acclaim. "It actually is [a dream], it a means a lot," he said. "I feel very, very blessed right now."
Coach Mike D'Antoni, whose team hosts the Bulls tomorrow at noon, sees sugar plums when speaking of Fields. In a slip Wednesday, D'Antoni referred to Fields as "a great player" before stopping himself.
"He keeps improving offensively and defensively," D'Antoni said. "He's just a smart guy and a great player. I don't want to get too far ahead. He can be a great player because he is what all coaches love. He's a glue guy who can be really good on a great team."
Because Fields had spinal surgery in the days leading up to the draft and didn't come out of the hospital until draft day, Walsh had to trust in his two top college scouts, Mark Hughes, who heads the Western region, and Misho Ostarcevic, the director of player personnel and Pac-10 aficionado, who lives in Utah.
On the morning of the draft, Walsh took a final look at Stanford game tape of Fields and told Hughes, "I don't know about this. He looks too good to be taken down there. He was high scorer in the Pac-10, had a 39-inch vertical leap. I don't know how he lasts until 38."
He did. The Knicks held back-to-back picks at 38 and 39 and chose Syracuse favorite Andy Rautins first for public-relations reasons.
Walsh still is at a loss to answer why Fields was so lightly regarded after averaging 22 points on a 14-18 Stanford club. "We tried to figure that out, too, after drafting him," Walsh said. "The Pac-10 was down last year, but what does that have to do with one player. Two years ago, there were a lot of Pac-10 prospects. Maybe the league wasn't scouted as much."
Walsh admitted even he didn't go to the Pac-10 tournament.
Fields is being scouted now and Walsh is amused that teams have begun to inquire about him. Walsh would only trade him for a player of near All-Star ability. Fields' minimum salary for a second-round pick ($442,000) does not match up with those guys, making a fit difficult.
Not that Walsh is looking to deal him. Walsh prefers not to add Fields with other important assets, so he seems reluctant to just throw him into a multi-faceted Carmelo Anthony package, according to a source.
Fields was at his best in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's 112-98 win over Oklahoma City. He blocked a shot, stole a pass that led to a fastbreak, hit two 3-pointers and scored on an offensive put-back. "He seems so mature, it's like he's played in the NBA before," Walsh said. "He plays defense like a veteran. If he doesn't stop them, he makes them make plays they don't want to make. He just seems to make the right play at the right time."
The rookie wall usually looms in late December when teams hit the 30-game mark. "People think he's coming down," Walsh said. "I don't think he's coming down."
Because of Fields' speed and hustle, D'Antoni's system is perfect for him. But D'Antoni said he'd be fine in any system. "He's not a great ball-handler, passer or shooter," D'Antoni told The Post recently. "What he does well, he's great in having a nose for the ball and being able to have enough energy and hustle all the time. We got just really lucky."
Lucky enough to inherit the next Havlicek? "Havlicek wasn't known as a shooter at first, he developed it," Walsh said. "Landry picks up things very quickly. He'll pick that up too."