Season in Review 2015-16: Tim Frazier

Pelicans.com continues its look back at the 2015-16 season with player-by-player analysis of the team:

2015-16 OVERVIEW
He was a revelation, a refreshing success story after New Orleans had endured a frustrating portion of the season filled with bad news, including key injuries, a losing streak and the vanishing of realistic playoff hopes. When point guard Tim Frazier signed with the Pelicans on March 16, they’d already begun to lose important key contributors to injuries and had dropped the first four games of a coast-to-coast five-game road trip. From just about the instant the 10-day signee stepped on the court at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, however, the Pelicans began looking like a more cohesive team.

Frazier made an eye-opening debut for New Orleans in a 15-point road win over the Kings, finishing with 14 points and nine assists, a sign of things to come over the final month of the regular season. Almost exclusively in a reserve role, Frazier was an effective scorer (13.1 points per game, 45.0 percent from the field, 41.9 percent from three-point range), but more importantly, he adeptly ran the New Orleans offense by consistently spotting open teammates for baskets. Frazier averaged 7.5 assists in his 16 games with New Orleans; if he’d averaged 7.5 over the course of the entire 2015-16 season, it would’ve ranked him tied for sixth in the NBA, behind only Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Chris Paul and Ricky Rubio.

Frazier previously played for Philadelphia and Portland, sandwiched around D-League stints, highlighted by him winning that circuit’s MVP award in ’14-15. He hadn’t shot well in the NBA during his cameos with the 76ers and Trail Blazers (33.9 percent from the field combined), but that changed with the Pelicans, as he reached double digits in scoring 13 times in the 16 games.

Asked whether he needed to excel in New Orleans to prove to himself that he’s a bona fide NBA player, the Penn State alum said, “I don’t know. I just take it day-by-day. I feel comfortable out there, especially with the ball in my hands. This is my second year and I’ve bounced around to a couple teams (and been on) 10 days. But I’ve always had spurts on basically every team, where I’ve done something (to make people say), ‘He belongs in this league.’ I’ve still got a long ways to go. I’m going to continue to work and continue to do that.”

Despite being without numerous top players down the stretch of the regular season, the Pelicans actually had a slightly better winning percentage with Frazier (37.5, 6-10 record) than they did prior to his arrival (36.4, 24-42). On paper, New Orleans figured to struggle to score 80-90 points a night given some of its late-season lineups, but the Pelicans instead enjoyed some of their highest-assist games and generally were competitive. Offensive production was not an issue, with only a couple exceptions.

“We’re all NBA players, basketball players,” Frazier explained after the Pelicans won convincingly in Kobe Bryant’s New Orleans farewell game. “We might not be All-Stars or Kobe Bryant, but we’re going to go out there and compete. That’s one thing you can do as a person, regardless of your skill set: You go out there and you give it your all. I think the guys we have are trying to do that, give it your all... We’ve all been successful at this level at some point. We want to continue to do that.”

TOP THREE TIM FRAZIER GAMES OF 2015-16

#3, March 20: New Orleans 109, L.A. Clippers 105
An uncharacteristic low-assist game for Frazier (he had two), but he supplied 17 points and pulled down seven rebounds, to go with four steals, as the undermanned Pelicans upset the Clippers. He was 5/8 from the field and 6/7 from the foul line.

#2, March 16: New Orleans 123, Sacramento 108
Just hours after deplaning at the Sacramento airport as a brand-new Pelicans signee, Frazier made an outstanding first impression with a 14-point, nine-assist performance. He immediately began looking to pass to three-time All-Star Anthony Davis on dives to the rim, always a wise decision. The 123 points tied for NOLA’s second-biggest output of the season.

#1, April 3: New Orleans 106, Brooklyn 87
Frazier’s 13-assist performance against the Nets was so impressive that NBA.com posted a video featuring each of his dimes. Several of them were beautiful setups that led to point-blank scores. For good measure, he also dropped in 19 points, then a career high (he surpassed it eight days later with a 20-point night against Chicago).

BEHIND THE NUMBERS
9.2: Assists per 36 minutes for Frazier as a member of the Pelicans, tops on the team. Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans were next with identical averages of 7.7.

1.8: Steals per 36 minutes for Frazier, second-best on the Pelicans. Toney Douglas averaged 2.0.

4.4: Rebounds per game for Frazier with New Orleans, which ranked him seventh among the Pelicans, despite him being 6-foot-1.