Despite only playing spot minutes at the end of blowout games, Fredette has given Chicago a reason to get excited. Not only do fans already love him, but he has displayed the shooting prowess he is famous for.
Fredette’s small workload is certainly expected. He still has a lot to learn about Tom Thibodeau’s system, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s able to crack the rotation toward the end of the season or during the playoffs.
Thibodeau spoke on Fredette’s progress with Sports Illustrated's Chris Johnson: "He’s been here a short amount of time, so he’s gotta pick things up. We’ll see how it unfolds. We like his approach. Each day I think he’s gotten more comfortable."
Jimmer hasn’t been able to do much since joining the Bulls, but the potential for another great signing is there.
Fredette’s bread and butter; in just a few games with the Bulls, Fredette has knocked down two of four attempts from downtown.
He’s done it in different ways, coming off screens as the ball handler as well as knocking one down off a catch-and-shoot. One of those threes came down the stretch during the Bulls’ loss to the San Antonio Spurs, a game in which Chicago was on the verge of an impressive comeback.
The Bulls' three-point shooting is anything but impressive, ranking 25th in three-point percentage around the league. They have had some good games from behind the arc, but those are mostly outliers in what has been a below average year in this department.
While Fredette hasn’t had much of a chance to play this season, not even with the Sacramento Kings, his numbers are still top notch. Among players who have shot between 50 and 80 threes, Fredette has the highest percentage with 49.4 percent, per NBA.com.
However, that won’t be enough for him to get on the floor.
The one thing Thibodeau preaches is defense, and in a complex team-defense system, Fredette has his work cut out for him if he wants a spot in the rotation.
Defense has been the biggest question mark on Fredette and could factor into how many minutes he plays later on.
Dave Rose, Fredette’s coach at BYU, believes his former star can excel defensively, though: "Everybody wants to talk about defense for Jimmer. I think that physically he is very capable of fitting into some type of a system," said Rose, per SI.com.
His size works against him in this department as guards can take advantage of him, but Thibodeau has been able to work with undersized point guards before.
Fredette showed some good signs against the Spurs, particularly in one possession where he did a great job staying in front of his assignment as he tried to attack the basket in semi-transition.
The best thing is Fredette understands he must perform well defensively in this team in order to have a chance:
This is a very team-defense-oriented scheme. They’ve got a bunch of guys that play really hard and they talk out of their defense well. As long as you know the schemes and know where to turn the guy, I think you’re going to be OK… Getting to know the plays and the defensive schemes and the terminology is the toughest thing, but I think I’m doing a pretty good job.
If Fredette can keep working in practice and get a better grasp of the system, there’s no doubt he’ll be making some significant contributions for the Bulls sooner rather than later.
Final Grade: B-
Fredette has been doing and saying all the right things. He seems eager to learn Chicago's system and perhaps contribute in the near future.
After a failed stint with the Kings, Fredette is glad to finally be on a team that wants him:
It feels good to come to a team where guys are like, 'Hey, we’ve been looking at you for a while. We like your skills, we like how you play, so we want you to be a part of our team.' It’s awesome—for the coaching staff and front office to have confidence in you.
ESPN Chicago’s Nick Friedell believes Fredette could get some time during the playoffs but reiterates that at first, the 25-year-old guard will have to learn Thibodeau’s defensive scheme.
Scoop Jackson says Fredette could have an impact, but it all depends on Thibodeau and the opportunity and confidence he gives him.
There’s not a lot to go on just yet, but Fredette’s small samples show he could become a key player down the stretch. His ability to knock down perimeter shots could come up big during the postseason.
In the 2013 playoffs, Chicago shot 32 percent from downtown, ranking it 11th during the postseason, per basketball-reference.com. The Spurs and Miami Heat, who faced off in the NBA Finals, were ranked second and third in three-point shooting, respectively.
It goes to show how important being an efficient shooting team—especially from behind the arc—is in the playoffs.
Chicago could make a deep run this spring, and having a shooter of his caliber out in the perimeter will make it just a tad easier as it battles in the first couple of rounds trying to pull off the improbable.
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