ESPN's Marc Stein was the first to report on Fredette's move to the Bayou:
ESPN sources say New Orleans is signing Jimmer Fredette to a one-year deal— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 18, 2014
Pelicans needed a shooter to replace Anthony Morrow and have closed on a deal with Jimmer Fredette, sources say— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 18, 2014
As Stein notes, Fredette was presumably brought aboard to fill the void left by Anthony Morrow, who recently agreed to terms on a three-year, $10 million deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder, per Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
And considering the length and value of the deal (the contract's valued at the veteran minimum, according to The Times Picayune's John Reid), it's admittedly a low-risk move for Dell Demps and the Pelicans.
But from personnel and tactical standpoints, New Orleans really might not be the best spot for Fredette to revive a career that's been on life support for years.
At first glance, Fredette appears to be a logical fit at point guard.
The Charlotte Hornets pried Brian Roberts away from the Pelicans on a two-year deal worth $5.5 million, per Wojnarowski, while second-round pick Russ Smith figures to have a hard time wedging his way into Monty Williams' rotation during his first professional season.
However, Fredette has never been a natural ball-handler or distributor.
The former Brigham Young standout has never averaged more than two assists per game over the course of a single season and has always walked the assist-to-turnover tightrope, recording a paltry 1.44 assists for every turnover.
His only real redeemable NBA skill is his ability to catch and shoot from beyond the arc, which he's done effectively since being selected 10th overall by the Sacramento Kings in 2011.
Prior to his uneventful and truncated stay with the Chicago Bulls last season, Fredette lit up opponents to the tune of 1.41 points per possession on spot-ups and 1.04 points per possession coming off screens, according to Synergy Sports (subscription required).
Additionally, Fredette shot 55.9 percent from the field on spot-ups last season, while that number improved to 62.5 percent when it came to spot-up threes.
And while the NBA values three-point shooters now more than ever, Fredette's limited skill set and undersized build would seem to pigeonhole him as more of a shooting guard than a floor general.
At 6'2'' and 195 pounds, Fredette isn't the sort of physically imposing presence teams covet.
Just consider these harsh words from an NBA scout, as told to Daniel J. Flynn of Breitbart.com:
“Jimmer Fredette has never shown that he can do all that much in the NBA,” a veteran NBA scout told Breitbart Sports. “He’s not playing against college kids. He’s playing against grown men, professionals. Everyone he plays against has great athleticism.” Fredette, he explains, lacks the physical attributes required to play at an elite level in the NBA. “Where’s the strength? Where’s the foot quickness? Where’s the length? He’s way down in the equation physically in the NBA.”
Thanks to his underwhelming physical tools, Fredette has never averaged more than 20 minutes per game over the course of three pro seasons, and his individual defensive rating has never clocked in at under 110 during that span, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
Defensive and Personnel Concerns
As sexy as some of those three-point-shooting numbers may appear to be on the surface, Fredette's defensive deficiencies have always limited his ceiling.
In 41 games with the Sacramento Kings last season, Fredette's defensive contributions were marginal to say the least.
According to NBA.com, the Kings were 2.7 points better defensively per 100 possessions with Fredette off the floor. And as an aside, Sacramento was actually 0.3 points better offensively per 100 possessions with Fredette off the floor last season.
And then there's this: According to Synergy Sports, Fredette surrendered 1.24 points per possession when guarding spot-ups, while that number ballooned to 1.27 when defending isolations prior to his release.
Combined, those two play types accounted for nearly 40 percent of Fredette's defensive assignments.
For a team like the Pelicans, who ranked 27th in defensive efficiency last season (110.1 points per 100 possessions), according to Basketball-Reference, bringing Fredette aboard doesn't help patch up any of the team's most glaring holes.
|Jrue Holiday||Eric Gordon||Tyreke Evans||Anthony Davis||Omer Asik|
|Austin Rivers||John Salmons||Darius Miller||Ryan Anderson||Alexis Ajinca|
|Jimmer Fredette||Luke Babbitt||Patric Young||Jeff Withey|
While the Pelicans attempted the league's second-fewest threes last season, they actually finished the 2013-14 season ranked No. 6 overall in conversion rate, knocking down 37.3 percent of their looks from deep.
With capable three-point shooters in Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, John Salmons and even the newly re-signed Darius Miller, per John Reid of The Times-Picayune, Fredette's fit in an offense that was already humming to the tune of 107.2 points per 100 possessions has to be questioned.
Could Fredette turn into a capable shooting specialist in limited minutes off the bench?
Just consider this analysis from The Bird Writes' Brian Ball:
Jimmer isn't particularly good at a lot of things - he's defensively challenged, rarely gets rebounds, and had a worrying uptick in his turnover rate last season to 17%. However, he is an excellent shooter - he has seen his 3pt percentage rise from 36% to 42% to 47% in his first three seasons in the NBA. In particular, he loves the corner three, having shot 52% from there in his career. That's a nice fit for a team that has three-point shooters that largely like to operate above the break.
But is he likely to develop into a key member of the Pelicans' rotation?
New Orleans' guard quota was filled before Fredette signed, and his addition creates even more of a logjam in the backcourt. As a result, don't be surprised when his role is eventually marginalized.
And given the trajectory of his career arc, it's only natural to expect Fredette's stay in New Orleans to end much the way his time in Sacramento did: full of empty promise.