New Orleans Pelicans Season in Review: Jimmer Fredette

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Published: May 22, 2015

Allow me to start out Jimmer Fredette’s season review with this player comparison table. Time to play a little game I like to call “guess that player”!

Screenshot 2015-05-21 at 12.37.58 PM

If you guessed “the same guy”, you’re right! Player X is Jimmer Fredette in his most recent season before coming to New Orleans. Jimmer finished the 2013-14 NBA season doing some of the best shooting of his career, and with the departure of Anthony Morrow to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Pelicans brought him in largely to replace Morrow’s shooting off the bench. Unfortunately, things didn’t exactly go the way that the Pelicans or Jimmer planned, as the fourth year sharp shooter out of BYU suffered easily the worst shooting season of his career. Given his limited skill set outside of his perimeter shooting, these struggles translated to inconsistent minutes and the worst overall season of his career.

Instead of just listing out all of the ways in which Jimmer under performed, I decided to take a different approach. Below, I’ll look at some of the reasons why Jimmer may have failed to meet expectations as a Pelican, along with suggestions about how he can learn from them.

The Rationale

Small Sample Size

When I list “small sample size” as a good thing, I don’t necessarily mean that it was good to only have a small sample size of Jimmer. What I am trying to say is that the sample size for his statistical production this year was sufficiently small that it isn’t really possible to draw tons of definite conclusions about his ability overall. We can use his entire career and fairly easily point to his strengths and weaknesses, but given the type of player Jimmer is, doing so is more difficult with a sample size of only about 500 minutes played. Sure, Jimmer was atrocious from the 3-point line this season, but you know what? He was also lights out in roughly the same number of minutes last season. Don’t get me wrong, Fredette was unquestionably a below replacement level player this season, but he had some bad luck as well. As long as Jimmer stays confident and trusts his shot, the switch could easily flip back in the opposite direction next season.

Poor Usage

First, a table to show the relationship between Fredette’s 3-point attempt rate, 3-point percentage, usage rate, and player efficiency rating in each of his four NBA seasons:

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As you can see, Fredette attempted far fewer 3-pointers as a percentage of his total shot attempts in 2014-15 than he did during any other season in his career. While there is likely some deflation to his first year PER due to the rookie learning curve, it appears as if Jimmer is at his best offensively when he is attempting close to 40% of his shots from the 3-point line. That number dipped significantly in 2014-15 with the Pelicans, and his efficiency dropped right along with it.  There is certainly a case to be made that the Pelicans failed to put Fredette in the best position to succeed, but if Jimmer wants to be considered among the best shooters in the league, he has to improve upon his consistency.

Contested Shot/Shot Creation Performance

In the 2013-14 NBA season, Jimmer Fredette made 10 of his 16 attempts in which the defender was within 4 feet of him when he released his shot. This year, he made just 1 out of 10 such attempts. Fredette shot a far lower percentage on open three pointers as well, but over the long run, that is more bad luck than anything else, as we have seen throughout Jimmer’s career that he is capable of converting open looks. Additionally, Jimmer converted on 19 out of 41 attempts (46.3%) in the 2013-14 season with the the ball in his hands for at least two seconds before shooting (highly correlated to whether the shot was assisted or created by himself). In 2014-15, he made just 1 out of 12 (8.3%) such shots. A huge value add for Jimmer in 2013-14 was his ability to make long range shots without needing to be set up by teammates, something he simply could not do this season. As in the usage section above, this decline in success does not all fall on Fredette, as team offensive design must be taken into account as well. However, making contested shots and creating shots are real skills, and Fredette’s inability to do so this season undoubtedly hurt his chances at extended playing time.

Summary

Let’s face the facts here: Jimmer Fredette is, at best, a guy you bring in off the bench when you need to add shooting and floor-spacing to your offense. His career real plus-minus and adjusted plus-minus numbers on the defensive end indicate that he’ll always be a net negative on that end of the floor, and the eye test typically supports that. While Jimmer certainly is not as bad as his 2014-15 season with the Pelicans makes him seem, his weaknesses were especially exposed, and his inconsistency was put under the microscope. If Jimmer can improve his ability to come in cold off the bench and make shots at a reasonable clip, then he can have value as a situational player for quite a few NBA teams. If he only shoots well when given enough playing time for him get into a “rhythm”, though, he’ll struggle to find a roster spot because he has too many shortcomings in other aspects of his game, and will lose out to other more versatile players. More than anything else, proving that he can make shots consistently through stretches of sparse playing time may be the biggest key to Jimmer Fredette carving out a long-term place in the NBA.

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