After six straight DNP-CD’s to start out his NBA playoff career (five with the Chicago Bulls in 2014 and one with New Orleans on Saturday), there is much speculation that Jimmer Fredette will make his playoff debut on Monday night as the New Orleans Pelicans faceoff in the second game of the first round against the Golden State Warriors.
The reason for the speculation is because Pelicans guards Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday are listed as questionable for game two with lower leg injuries. However, after taking a deeper look, Fredette fans shouldn’t get there hopes up about seeing him play meaningful minutes against Golden State. The problem for Fredette (and his legion of fans), is that even if neither guard is active there is no guarantee that he will play since coach Monty Williams has plenty of other options at his disposal.
First off, Fredette has never been high on Williams’ list of guards for the Pelicans this season. He appeared in just 50 of 82 regular season games often playing behind Evans, Holiday, Eric Gordon, Norris Cole, Austin Rivers and Toney Douglas as well as the likes of short-timers Gal Mekel, Nate Wolters and Elliot Williams. And when he did get on the floor, it wasn’t for long stretches of time either. In fact, he played more than 20 minutes in a game just six times all season (scoring in double figures in five of those games).
Even when New Orleans was short-handed on the guard line it didn’t mean that Fredette got minutes. In those situations, coach Williams would either play his starters a significant amount of time leaving very few minutes for bench players or go big if need be. Those are both likely scenarios for the Pelicans against the Warriors if Holiday and Evans can’t go.
Cole will get the start in place of Evans and play 35-plus minutes while Gordon has a chance to see more than 40 minutes of action (assuming he stays out of foul trouble). Additional minutes in the Pelicans backcourt will most likely go to Quincy Pondexter who would slide down from the small forward spot. He already spent plenty of time in game one trying to guard Stephen Curry so the Pelicans might as well try to take advantage of that matchup on the other end of the floor. The remaining minutes will more than likely go to Douglas who has played ahead of Fredette ever since he got on the roster, or to Luke Babbitt when Pondexter plays the two.
While this isn’t a 100 percent certainty of what will happen, it is exactly what went on during the last part of the season as the Pelicans fought their way into the playoffs. Fredette only played in six of New Orleans’ last 21 games, including just three games of more than 10 minutes.
Now that it is the most important part of the season why would Williams change now?