Jimmer Fredette hasn’t been given much of a chance to produce with the Chicago Bulls. When he’s gotten playing time, though, the guard has proven to be an asset to the team.
The BYU graduate finally received significant time on the floor on Monday night. Fredette played 31 minutes for the Bulls, who were without backup point guard D.J. Augustin. As Augustin was with his wife for the birth of their son, Fredette took advantage of his opportunity. He scored 17 points, grabbed three rebounds and added two assists, on 50 percent field-goal shooting. Chicago went on to defeat the Orlando Magic, 108-95.
“It’s something I’ve done a lot in my career so far, so you’ve just got to continue to be prepared and be professional, and like I said before, you never know when an opportunity’s going to come,” Fredette said, after the victory. “So you’ve got to be able to take advantage of it when you get minutes and hopefully I was able to do that tonight. You always want to play as a competitor, but at the same time, you’ve got to be a good teammate and make sure your teammates know that you’re supporting them, and continue to do that."
Keeping himself prepared might not be easy for Fredette, who’s barely played at all for Chicago. He was released by the Sacramento Kings less than a week after the NBA trade deadline. He signed with the Bulls a few days later, but has spent most of his time on the bench.
Prior to Monday, he’d been signed to the Bulls for 22 games, but appeared in just five contests. Monday marked the first time that head coach Tom Thibodeau played Fredette for at least 10 minutes, and just the second time that he spent more than four minutes on the court.
In three seasons with the Kings, Fredette saw his playing time decrease each year, even though his shooting percentages have improved. When he was let go, the 25-year-old was making over 49 percent of his three-pointers. In his limited time with Chicago, Fredette has scored four points per game.
Fredette’s defense has been the No.1 reason why he’s spent so much time on the bench. Chicago ranks second in defensive efficiency, and leads the league by allowing just 91.8 points per game. Throughout his career, Fredette has been known as a below average defender. According to the Chicago Tribune, Thibodeau gave Fredette credit for his defense against Orlando, but insisted the team’s rotation wouldn’t change.
The Bulls are one of the NBA’s best defensive teams, but they’ve struggled on the other side of the ball. No team scores fewer than their 93.8 points per game, and they’ve especially struggled from behind the arc, ranking 24th in three-point percentage. However, it appears that the Bulls are not willing to sacrifice anything on defense by inserting Fredette into the lineup on a regular basis.
Chicago enters the last night of the regular season as the No.4 seed in the Eastern Conference. They share the same record as No.3 Toronto, who holds the tiebreaker. The Bulls conclude the year with a visit to Charlotte, while Toronto ends the season against the New York Knicks.