Since joining the Pelicans, Tim Frazier has quickly transformed from an unknown warm body to fan favorite. On the court, his effort, ability and developing camaraderie with new teammates has reminded many of Ish Smith's short tenure in New Orleans. A number of Portland followers are already pondering the idea that the Trail Blazers made a mistake in waiving him at the trade deadline.
Normally players in Frazier's age group, who have been in the league for a few years and remain buried on the bench, are unlikely to blossom. In 511 minutes which were spread across two seasons in Philadelphia and Portland, a horrific shooting efficiency plagued his game. He made only 41 of 121 shot attempts for an unsightly 33.9 FG%.
Interestingly though, he has enjoyed a much higher degree of success while spending time with the Miami Red Claws in the D-League. So much so, he earned Most Valuable Player honors in 2015. Have a glance at his statistics from Basketball Reference.
In 1698 minutes, this set of statistics leads one to conclude he has no problem with his shot, even all the way out to the three-point line. So which is it, can Frazier shoot the rock well enough to be an NBA player?
Well, according to his first 10 games in the Crescent City, one would feel more comfortable giving greater due to his D-League statistics because of the similarities. In 272 minutes, Frazier is sporting a 52.2 FG%, a 52.9 3FG% and 79.5 FT%. To some degree, one should expect these percentages to be unsustainable, but 18 combined games between the Maine Claws and Pelicans are forcing us to think this isn't entirely a mirage.
In addition to his stellar shooting figures, I want to point out Frazier's other boxscore contributions -- they're amazing. After approaching an Oscar Robertson-like threat of triple-doubles in the NBDL, his per 36 minute averages in a Pelicans uniform are nothing to sneeze at: 17.9 points, 7.9 assists and 5.1 rebounds. Care to guess who else has averaged these numbers this season?
Or say from over the span of the last 10 years?
That's it. That's the full list from the last decade, without the inclusion of any minute restrictions for players (hence the Sim Bhullar sighting). If Tim Frazier's performance in Portland was excluded from his season totals, his name would appear on this list, and it wouldn't be some fluke.
Over three year's ago, Onward State, a Penn State blog, asked the question, Could Tim Frazier play in the NBA? It's worth a read, but I specifically want to highlight the following graph from the article.
Do you notice how well Frazier once compared with some of the more dynamic point guards in the NBA during their final collegiate seasons? Yep, he has flashed this all-around ability for years, but shooting percentages always held him back. Until perhaps now... knock on wood!
Fortunately for the Pelicans, they signed Frazier to a rest of the season contract, and with him having been in the league three or fewer seasons, he will be a restricted free agent once the team submits a qualifying offer sometime after the last day of the 2016 NBA season.
On the Pelicans Tim Frazier who has played at a high level since being signed. RFA with non-bird in July, $1.18m qualifying offer.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) April 3, 2016
I'll wager Tim Frazier is going to be back next year because it makes sense for the front office to take an inexpensive gamble. At worst, his shot may crater, but he would still be able to provide quality minutes by rebounding the basketball, swiping a steal or two and dropping dimes by the dozen. At best, he could provide large quantities of what we're seeing now: a game-changer off the bench.
Frazier has done more than enough to secure a spot on next season's roster, and if I'm Alvin Gentry, I'd be begging for his return. This will be twice now that a diminutive point guard brought in after the start of the season due to numerous injuries to the existing roster has given hope the head coach's offensive schemes might be worth saving for the long haul.
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