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Dick Harmon: Onus is on Fredette to increase worth with Pelicans

Published: Thursday, July 30 2015 10:06 p.m. MDT

Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette looks on against the Denver Nuggets in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Denver on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (David Zalubowski, ASSOCIATED PRESS) Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette looks on against the Denver Nuggets in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Denver on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (David Zalubowski, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Jimmer Fredette has landed.

He signed a free agent contract with New Orleans this past week and he’ll wear the Pelican uniform for a year for just under a million bucks.

Some say he dodged a bullet; others say New Orleans got the bargain of the summer.

This is a move Fredette predicted July 9 during a question and answer period with youth players in his camp held in the new Provo city convention and recreation center. Among questions thrown at the former BYU guard and NCAA Player of the Year was if he was going to play in Europe this coming season.

“No, I will be playing in the NBA,” said Fredette in emphatic fashion.

There were plenty of pundits who predicted otherwise.

What’s it all mean?

Chicago Bulls point guard Jimmer Fredette (32) pushes towards the basket against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Tuesday, March 11, 2014, in Chicago. The San Antonio Spurs defeated The Chicago Bulls 104-96. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles) (Andrew Nelles, AP) Chicago Bulls point guard Jimmer Fredette (32) pushes towards the basket against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Tuesday, March 11, 2014, in Chicago. The San Antonio Spurs defeated The Chicago Bulls 104-96. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles) (Andrew Nelles, AP)

This is a new start for a quality person who must significantly hone his game at this level and increase his worth.

The Pelicans were in need of shooters and Fredette was the main free agent shooter targeted in the offseason by the franchise, according to Michael McNamara of www.bourbonstreetshots.com.

Fredette joins former Sacramento teammates John Salmons and Tereke Evans on the New Orleans roster. The Pelicans sought out the taller Salmons and shorter Fredette for specific roles in stretching defenses.

It’s too early to tell what kind of role Fredette will have, but the word in New Orleans is that they don’t want Fredette to handle the ball as he did in college. They would rather he be more of a set shooter. His 50 percent accuracy from that form of long range is as impressive as any in the league, and New Orleans wants him to focus on just that.

Short for a shooting guard, Fredette’s challenge will be on the defensive end, but McNamara told Utah’s 960 AM on Friday the Pelicans may have the best secondary defense duo in the league in 7-2 Alexis Ajinca and 6-10 Anthony Davis. Perhaps their prowess on defense can help Fredette during his minutes.

As one looks at this Fredette move to New Orleans this summer, three things stand out in Fredette's favor. The No. 1 thing is he is wanted.

Pelican coach Monty Williams’ best friend in the NBA is Chicago pilot Tom Thiboudeau, according to McNamara. Understandably, Fredette’s short stint in Chicago this year as a Kings’ refugee came too late to carve out much of a role for the former BYU All-American. Thiboudeau likely recommended to Williams the possibilities Fredette could bring to the Pelicans' offense.

Fredette basically replaces Anthony Morrow as a shooter for Williams. In minutes played, Fredette averaged 18.9 points a game to Morrow’s 16.1.

The second deal is the Pelicans' desire to find some outside firepower. When given the chance, Fredette has proven he can deliver. With the Kings, he often came in the game in the second quarter, immediately hit two or three bombs and then sat the rest of the half or game.

In minutes played, a Basketball-reference.com comparison of shooting guards signed during the summer show Fredette is a more productive accurate point getter than any of them. Sure this is debatable because it is statistical wizardry. This is, but the numbers are there when you compare Ish Smith, Rodney Stuckey, Luke Ridnour, Jerryd Bayless, Beno Udrih, Steve Blake, Ben Gordon, Mario Chalmers, Morrow, Brian Roberts, Sebastian Telfair, Jodie Meeks and Fredette.

Third, Fredette is playing for a coach in Williams who has a proven record of improving defensive acumen among players who struggle on that end of the court.

This is something Fredette’s agent should have been working on the past three years. If he had, it should have netted more effective results. Same with work on the pick and roll — Fredette needs to push this part of his game in Steve Nash fashion if he’s to enjoy any longevity and increased money in the league.

Like I said, this is a move that Fredette could benefit from in coming months.

He’s got a chance with a coach who apparently believes in him, and he’s not in Moscow or Madrid.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at dharmon@desnews.com.

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