Heading into the 2016 offseason, the assumption was Tim Frazier would likely be re-signed by the Pelicans. That he would function as the point guard with the reserve unit, or perhaps the team’s third main ball handler pending the decision of a role for Tyreke Evans. Then once the front office added two combo guards in free agency, Langston Galloway and E’Twaun Moore, Frazier’s fate in New Orleans became very much in question.
Fast forward a few months later and Frazier is probably as indispensable to the team as anyone not named Anthony Davis. Jrue Holiday is out for an unspecified amount of time and Evans tedious rehabilitation has him returning to the rotation in December, at the earliest. Therefore, those who follow the team closely believe Alvin Gentry will insert Frazier into the starting lineup for the foreseeable future, and it sounds like he’s ready for the challenge, declaring he’ll do his best to hold the fort down until Holiday returns on media day.
Should we believe him?
In a small sample of 16 games with the Pelicans, Frazier averaged 13.1 points, 7.5 assists, 4.4 rebounds in a little over 29 minutes per game. He shot the ball extremely well from behind the three-point line (41.9%), this after not being able to break the 30% barrier with either the Blazers or Sixers. The variance is disturbing, but thankfully the Pelicans are most interested in his strength — passing.
It must be mentioned that Frazier was thrown into the fire as soon as he donned a Pelicans jersey. With no practice time, he made a cast largely comprised of end of the bench role-players/D-league guys — many of whom have yet to be signed to new contracts — competitive. Some have argued that somebody has to put up numbers when you’re on a bad team, and while in some cases this is true, that mostly applies to instances when talking about scoring the ball. The way Frazier created easy open looks for players actually made them look a lot better. James Ennis averaged 15.9 points, Luke Babbitt, after struggling to find the necessary consistency for much of the season, 13.1 points, and Toney Douglas, 14.9 points. Additionally, all three players shot over 40% from three-point territory during Frazier’s stint.
Once NBA starting-caliber players surround Frazier, it should only get better. For instance, Davis showed last year that his offensive game remained dependent on a pass-first point guard. Those easier looks will help him get going, especially on the nights his outside jumper is off.
Many will point to Frazier’s defense, or lack there of, as his biggest detractor. He will probably never be considered an above average defender, but all he needs to do is not let those outside the crème de la crème grouping torch the Pelicans. I staunchly believe the new defensive-orientated additions to the team will help this cause. If that happens and his passing ability remains an elite weapon, New Orleans could conceivably tread water much more strongly than they did during the first month of last season.
Call me an optimist but I expect Tim Frazier to hold the fort down until Holiday returns. Who knows, playing alongside a revitalized Brow may even cause the birth of Crescent City Connection 2.0, a high-flying theatrical wave of energy that sweeps through the city and allows the Pelicans to stay in striking distance of the Western Conference playoff race until help arrives.
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