Something to Watch: Tim Frazier

Published: April 4, 2016

In a lot of ways, this season was probably the worst possible outcome for the front office.  A slew of injuries that crushed any continuity, regression in play by a few key pieces, and a superstar who experienced growing pains as he was asked to do things he’d never done before.  It shattered interest in the team.  It shattered hopes of building on last year.  It was a disaster for the front office.

(Now, for the franchise, this may be a blessing in disguise, provided a suddenly more valuable pick works out for them.)

That doesn’t, however, give you any reason to watch the games going on right now.  Rooting for lottery balls can be done by looking at box scores.  Or just scores.  I can give you one simple reason, however, to watch at least some of the remaining games this season:

Tim Frazier knows how to run an offense.

Yeah.  It doesn’t sound like much.  But this team has spent seasons since the slow-footed Vasquez left New Orleans without a true lead guard. (Unless you still have a hard-on for Ish, I guess)  Jrue comes close – but he’s less a natural passer and more of a set play guy.  He’ll run a play and make the designed passes inside that play.  It can be effective, but not dynamic.

Tim Frazier runs a play and makes the right pass inside that play.  If there is a defensive breakdown, creating an unexpected opportunity, he finds it.  He takes advantage of the fact that the Pelicans have a bunch of hungry guys just dying to make an impression right now – cutting and getting out on the break – and always has his head up, looking to find them.  He tries to feed his bigs – lobbing for Ajinca and Dante when he can – and seems genuinely psyched when those plays work.  He’s forever dapping and pumping up his teammates, and when stuff is going right, he has a smirk glued on his face that makes me chuckle.

It’s fun, and it’s contagious.  For those of you who listen to me on the podcast, I’m heartily sick of watching this team as it eschews ball movement for one or zero-pass possessions.  Frazier, and (to be fair) the competition the Pelicans have been facing has made these games fun to watch as the ball gets to skipping about.  And Frazier’s ability to move the ball probably isn’t a fluke – as he has a solid career assist rate of about 31% and it was higher in college.(and is currently much higher as a Pelican, of course)

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Tim Frazier is not going to be a star.  He’s not even that young, since he stayed 5 years at Penn State and is now 25, and he’s shooting over his head right now, based on his D-league numbers and historical stats.  He’s nearing a finished product as a basketball player, BUT he is clearly two things already:

  • Not Norris Cole
  • Probably as good as Darren Collison

Collison is a fringe starter in this league.  Frazier is more of a passer and less of a scorer than Collison, but he’s right there in terms of talent.  Will he thrive in a less ball-dominant role off the bench?  It’s a good question, since role really matters.  Should he be signed in the off-season?  Yes, since the team should be prioritizing Basketball IQ highly right now, and he should be fairly cheap to retain.

Hopefully those decisions will be made quickly this off-season.  For right now, however, do yourself a favor, and catch a couple of the upcoming games.

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