The Chicago Bulls were supposed to be Jimmer Fredette’s fresh start in the NBA. A team desperate for a sharpshooter, and a lights-out scorer who needed his handcuffs removed. When Fredette signed with the club, the pairing seemed like kismet.
Unfortunately for Fredette, he has played 14 total minutes in three out of a possible six games since moving on from the Sacramento Kings, while Chicago could have certainly used his 40-percent career-touch from beyond the arc in its 3-3 stretch. In the last six games, the Bulls have continued their porous offensive output, shooting just 32 percent from three-point range.
The 2010 first-round pick’s longest time on the court came on Tuesday in the Bulls 104-96 loss to San Antonio. In his eight minutes, he shot 2-for-4 from the field, counting one three-pointer for a total of five points, two rebounds and an assist.
So far, it doesn’t seem like Fredette has immediately found himself on head coach Tom Thibodeau’s bad side, but rather he’s once again trapped behind a glut of young guards.
Isaiah Thomas and then-Kings Aaron Brooks and Marcus Thornton have been replaced by Chicago’s D.J. Augustin, Tony Snell and Jimmy Butler.
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Augustin has been a revelation for the scoring-starved Bulls. A tenth of a point behind his career best, the fifth-year veteran has notched 14.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in 44 games for Chicago. In March, Augustin has been particularly hot, knocking down 54.3 percent of his attempts from the field for 20.8 points. Augstin's play has been a relief for a team still dealing with the loss of former MVP Derrick Rose for much of the season.
Essentially, the former Texas star has made it impossible for Thibodeau to put anyone else in the back-up point guard role.
The 6-foot-7 rookie Snell, while still finding his way on the offensive end, benefits Chicago’s second-ranked defense with excellent length along the perimeter. The Bulls are likely banking on Snell slowly developing his offense while contributing on defense, just like Butler.
In three seasons, Butler’s hustle and ferocious defense created lots of needed minutes for his shot to flourish. He has raised his averages in points, rebounds, assists and steals every year he’s been in the league. Butler’s started in 49 games this season, and there’s likely no chance of Fredette usurping his starting spot.
Fredette will probably have a chance to prove himself more to Thibodeau and his new teammates in the final three weeks of the month. Next up for Chicago is Thursday’s home matchup against the Houston Rockets, who boast the third-highest scoring offense in the league at 106.5 points per game.
Later this month, Chicago will square off against Oklahoma City and leading scorer Kevin Durant, as well as two games against Eastern Conference leaders Indiana and burgeoning star Paul George. The Bulls will of course rely on their defense to slow down two of the best scorers in the league, but may also need the firepower Fredette can provide if they hope to maintain the No. 4 seed in the East.