The NBA odyssey of BYU legend Jimmer Fredette has led him to a new home and new opportunities. Fredette inked a one-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans for the league minimum in hopes of finding a chance to earn really minutes for the first time in his three-year career. Here is a look at how he will fit in with his new team for the 2014-15 season.
The Pelicans are coming off a 33-49 season in ’13-14, thanks to a slew of injuries that limited the playing time of key pieces Ryan Anderson, Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon. They struggled at times to score the ball and finished 18th in the league in scoring at 99.7 points per game, according to Basketball-reference.com. If Fredette can get some time, he will be able to help the Pelicans improve that number. Even though he played only 10.6 minutes a night, he averaged 5.6 points on 47.1 percent shooting from the floor. While that left Fredette with an averaged of 18.9 points per 36 minutes average, it is what he did during the games where he got significant time that he showed his true worth as a scorer. He played more than 25 minutes in a game twice during the ’13-14 campaign and put up big numbers each time. In a February win over the New York Knicks as a member of the Sacramento Kings, he finished with a career-high 24 points on the strength of 6-of-8 shooting from behind the arc. The other game came in a April win over the Orlando Magic while a member of the Chicago Bulls. That night, he totaled 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the floor to go along with three rebounds and two assists.
Even though they had a difficult time putting up points, New Orleans actually shot the ball pretty well from behind the arc. In fact, they finished sixth in the league at 37.3 percent, but that came on just 15.9 attempts per game. Where the problem lies for the Pelicans is that the 15.9 attempts was second fewest of any team in the NBA. The other problem is that their most consistent three-point shooter, Anthony Morrow is no longer on the roster. That is where Fredette will fit in very nicely. He is a career 40.1 percent shooter from beyond the arc, including a career-high 47.6 percent a season ago.
As for playing time, the Pelicans have a back court that consists of Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers, Tyreke Evans and John Salmons. Of the five, only Holiday is listed as a point guard, but Gordon, Rivers and Evans have the ability to run the show if need be. Holiday is a solid lead guard who can score the ball and also find the open man. He has a decent stroke from the outside, but is at his best shooting the midrange jumper. He played in 34 games during his first season in New Orleans and averaged 14.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 7.9 assists in 34 games. Gordon is the best scorer of the bunch, but he has been limited to 115 games over three seasons because of injuries since arriving in New Orleans in 2011. He played in 64 games in ’13-14 and averaged 15.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Rivers is in the same boat as Fredette. He was the 10th pick in the 2012 draft, but hasn’t yet established himself as a big-time NBA player. He played nearly 20 minutes a night for the Pelicans off the bench and averaged 7.7 points, 1.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Evans isn’t a viable threat to score from the outside, but can do a bit of everything else when he is on the floor. At times, he is used as a point forward because of his ability to handle the ball and find the open man. In his first year in New Orleans, Evans averaged 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and five assists in 72 games. Salmons is in his first year with the team after signing as a free agent. He is a 12-year veteran who is a solid role player at this point in his career. He averaged 5.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 78 games for the Toronto Raptors and the Sacramento Kings in ’13-14. Maybe the best way to get an idea of how many minutes Fredette might see is to take a look at who he is replacing. Morrow played 18.8 minutes a night in 76 appearances, according to Basketball-reference.com. While that isn’t a massive amount of time on the floor, it would be the most of his career.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Pelicans aren’t great, but they do have some fantastic rim protectors to make up for mistakes on the perimeter. Having Anthony Davis, Omer Asik, Jeff Withey and Alex Ajinca in the paint will definitely be a help for Fredette when he gets matched up against quicker guards who like to get to the rim.
Even though there may not be a great deal of minutes available, Fredette will be a good fit in New Orleans. With his skill-set, he will be able to replace the three-point shooting that was lost with the departure of Anthony Morrow. His outside shooting prowess should also help with the overall spacing on the floor. Having Fredette and Ryan Anderson in opposite corners will make it so it’s nearly impossible to double-team the Pelicans slashers or Anthony Davis on the block which will definitely help them put plenty of points on the board.