Jimmer Fredette was signed in the summer of 2014 for a 1-year guaranteed league minimum deal, a move by the Pelicans to fill out the roster for cheap bench players. These deals are low risk with a possible high reward, but for the Pelicans, they got what they paid in Jimmer this season. He simply wasn’t that good in his minutes overall, and this is why the Pelicans signed multiple players to 10-day deals before trading for Norris Cole.
There are things that Jimmer did well and deserves credit for this season. First and foremost, the guy simply plays hard. He may be a below average defender, but he hustles and you can see the effort he puts into every play on both offense and defense.
His high point came around the New Year where he averaged 20+ minutes for three straight games. Even Monty had positive things to say.
"Jimmer was big for us, not only hitting shots but defensively," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. "He was getting steals, getting out in transition and just competing. He is a threat when he is on the floor."
However, that didn't last. After Jrue Holiday went down with injury, Nate Wolters was brought in and then Toney Douglas on 10-day contracts. At the trade deadline, Cole came on board, all but ensuring Jimmer's playing time was all but over.
The season was a rough one for Jimmer, but although his numbers were below his standards, I'd wager he can still shoot -- you don’t lose the ability to shoot in one season. This year is the fewest amount of 3’s he has attempted since arriving in the NBA. Considering his previous low for three point attempts in a season per 36 minutes was 5.7, a 3.4 average with the Pelicans screamed confidence issues. He never gave himself a chance to shoot himself out of the slump.
As I've mentioned, Jimmer was brought in for only one year and on the minimum. There was no downside to this contract as it didn’t hurt the Pelicans salary cap. He showed glimpses of brilliance running the pick and roll, and there were moments his vision impressed me, but sadly this wasn't consistent enough.
Jimmer often struggled versus physical defenders, but it was the same disadvantage on the other side of the floor that limited his minutes. If you have issues guarding NBA players, it's going to be difficult to find playing time under Monty Williams.
"I’m not concerned with guys and their shots," Williams said. "That’s never going to be a concern of mine. You have to go into the game and play with a great deal of effort and make sure you can defend consistently. Shots will come.
Via NBA Stats, Jimmer had a defensive rating of 104.9. According to NBA Savant, opponents had a 45.1 FG%. On the surface, these numbers look respectable; however, if you watched most of his minutes, he was often overwhelmed. Due to a lack of quickness Jimmer wasn't able to keep players out of the lane and thus opposing point guards ran circles around him. When he was moved off the ball, physicality became an issue as he was too small to stay with nearly every wing in the NBA.
Let's get straight to the point: Jimmer's shooting killed all chances of being a larger part of the rotation. His perimeter shot failed to drop consistently (18.8 3FG%), and when your biggest strength is your shooting ability, that is a major red flag. I stated it was a small sample size, but when the lulls last all season, a coach will not continue to throw you out there.
Dell Demps signed a perimeter shooter to help replace the loss of Anthony Morrow. What the Pelicans received instead was anything but. After Jimmer's 2014-15 performance, I highly doubt he will return to New Orleans. There will be better options for the Pelicans next season to sign to minimum contracts. .
However, we certainly hope for the best for Jimmer. I enjoyed watching him this year because he has some talent, and combined with his effort level, it was easy to root for that breakthrough. Unfortunately, it never came.
If Jimmer wants to remain in the NBA, he has to prove he can shoot the basketball again. His game is not running a team as the main ball handler on the floor at any time. If Jimmer becomes a deadly threat from any part of the floor, he could be a minimum bench guy again for a non-playoff team. I can't help but think, though, that he's burned his last bridge and will likely be forced to go Europe for more money and guaranteed playing time.