Leading up to the 2011 NBA Draft plenty of people saw a lot of potential in Jimmer Fredette, thanks in large part to his shooting ability. However thanks to being stuck in some bad situations since the moment he hit the NBA, playing time has always been at a premium for Fredette and towards the end of last season his career seemed on its way out of the NBA and into Europe.
Now that he has signed with the New Orleans Pelicans though things might finally be looking up for the 4th year guard out of BYU thanks to a great opportunity for Fredette to not only finally get some playing time, but to be in a position to thrive in that playing time.
That opportunity comes from the fact that at the moment the Pelicans roster lacks reliable shooting. In fact it could be argued that so that Fredette may be the best non-Ryan Anderson shooter on the team before playing a single minute in the blue and gold. The numbers certainly support that theory, as Jimmer shoots 40 percent in his career from three-point land and posted a sky-high effective field goal percentage of 56 percent last season.
So why is it that a guy with this much talent can’t find playing time?
For starters, Fredette’s defense has been atrocious at every point of his career so far. Forced to move to shooting guard due to an inability to play point guard at the NBA level, Fredette is forced to guard bigger and stronger guards that he physically can’t match up well with. The lack of size also means that Fredette gets abused on screens and generally overpowered in other situations.
While this can be hidden on some teams, a lot of coaches don’t want that kind of liability on the floor which is why Fredette didn’t find playing time in Chicago, and why he was never able to free himself from the crowd of guards in Sacramento earlier in his career.
Of course, it’s not like Sacramento was exactly a good situation for Fredette. In addition to the crowded guard rotation, Fredette faced a dysfunctional front office, a revolving door of coaches, and an ownership that was trying to move rather than run the team. What that all added up to was not a lot of opportunity for development for a young player that desperately needed it. With every passing year his minutes decreased to the point that Fredette has not played over 1,000 minutes in a season since his rookie year with the Kinds. By the time some sanity had reached the Kings, Fredette was a relic from the previous regime that needed to be moved.
When Fredette actually play there were good signs though and signs that showed growth. While Fredette’s minutes have gone down in each season of his NBA career his efficiency numbers have increased and his per-36 minute numbers shows signs of an actual NBA contributor on offense.
Now that Fredette is in New Orleans, he has a chance to earn some much-needed playing time and live up to the signs of growth. The Pelicans don’t have a need for Fredette to play point guard, so instead the team has to find minutes between him and Austin Rivers, which shouldn’t be too hard since Rivers has yet to show an above average NBA level talent. For all of Fredette’s faults he has shown that he has at least on elite skill with his three-point shooting ability which gives him a chance. Theoretically, Jimmer could potentially slide into Anthony Morrow‘s 18 minutes per game last season pretty easily as the three-point shooting off the bench will be crucial for spacing.
Fredette finally has a chance to prove his worth in the NBA and answer all of the questions surrounding him and prove his supporters correct. Despite the questions surrounding him like Jimmer should be in position to earn the opportunity for the things he has wanted ever since entering the NBA.
Playing time, and a chance to show what he can do.