When the Chicago Bulls signed Jimmer Fredette in early March, fans and writers alike were excited to see what the young sharpshooter could bring to his new team. Unfortunately, Fredette was used sparingly, seeing action in just eight of the teams final 24 games.
The single opportunity that Fredette saw extended minutes, he rattled off 17 points in 31 minutes against the Orlando Magic on April 14. Not a bad performance from a guy that has only averaged 14.6 minutes per game for his entire career.
Regardless of his limited playing time for both the Bulls and the Sacramento Kings, he is still shooting over 40 percent from behind the three-point line for his career, making him 1-of-41 players in NBA history to shoot over 40 percent with more than 400 attempts from behind the arc.
The biggest reason for Fredette’s lack of playing time is due to his defensive inefficiency. His career total for defensive win shares (DWS) is a whopping zero. Even Carlos Boozer, a player who we usually saw cheering from the bench in the fourth quarter due to his inability to play defense, accumulated a DWS of 4.3 this season. Fredette was a liability when he was on the court, regardless of how well he can shoot the ball from deep.
However, if the Bulls choose to re-sign Fredette, there is hope for the future. He reminds me a lot of another sharpshooter that came to Chicago in 2010 that struggled on the defensive end. That player was Kyle Korver. In two seasons with the Bulls, Korver accumulated his highest DWS number since his second year in the league (2004-05). With his improvement on the defensive side of the ball, along with his continued shooting success, Korver landed himself a four-year, $24 million contract with the Atlanta Hawks. No, he is certainly not a defensive force, but the improvement he garnered under coach Tom Thibodeau’s guidance, helped him become a starting two guard in this league.
With that opportunity, Korver was able to set records with his extended time as a starter, shattering the record for most consecutive games scoring at least one three-point basket with 127 (89 was the previous record). Without the work and effort he and the Bulls coaching staff put into Korver’s game during his time with the team, who knows if he would have ever had the chance to break such a historic record?
Even though I believe Korver is better overall player, Fredette could achieve some of the same success Korver has if he can learn and embrace the defensive concepts that are key to the success of the Chicago Bulls. In order for Fredette to be effective, he obviously has to be on the floor. If he can improve even a little on his less-than-desirable defensive skills, he could get the additional playing time he desires. He has the shooting skills, like Korver did, to be successful in this league. Now he needs to buckle down and change the way he plays and prioritizes defense.
Regardless of which team Fredette signs a contract with this summer, he will still be a liability on the defensive end, earning him another year of riding the bench. The Chicago Bulls need to add scoring this offseason, but won’t do it at the expense of the team’s system and philosophy. The Bulls don’t need Fredette; his current skill set can be replaced. But if he wants to continue to play in this league, he needs Thibodeau and the Bulls.