The Chicago Bulls have endured some terrible luck over the last three seasons. The team’s 2011-12 campaign was marred by injury, even though the squad still managed to tie for the league’s best regular season record, with Derrick Rose succumbing to injury at the start of that spring’s postseason run. Rose missed the entire 2012-13 campaign because of that ACL tear, and will miss the rest of 2013-14 with a meniscus tear that has fans worried if he’ll ever return to his MVP-level 2011 stylings. Fearful of the luxury tax, the team traded former All-Star Luol Deng for a package that could merely whittle down to a pair of second round picks, as the team’s fans have watched as a potential championship core was destroyed due to injury and the team’s ownership unwillingness to spend.
Luck? It comes in the form of something odd. The Sacramento Kings strangely decided not to pick up Jimmer Fredette’s fourth-year option for 2014-15 last fall. Fredette wasn’t exactly playing like a star in his first two seasons with Sacramento, but at $3.1 million he seemed at least worth taking a flyer on. With the Kings slogging through yet another bust of a season, they decided to set Fredette free on Thursday, waiving him to allow Jimmer to hook up with a better, more sensible team.
After Fredette cleared waivers on Saturday evening, the Chicago Bulls pounced. They’re close to signing the third-year guard for under $245,000 to play in Chicago for the team’s final 24 games plus its playoff run. That’s right, the Bulls get to hire a shooter that is making 49 percent of his three-pointers thus far in 2013-14, while still staying under the luxury tax. They somehow got away with this one.
Fredette still isn’t approaching starter level production, but he has blossomed in his third year. Though Kings coach Michael Malone took him in and out of Sacramento’s rotation (there was no need to develop a lame duck guard in a lame duck season), Jimmer’s efficiency marks have shot up due to his white hot three-point shooting.
What his shooting chart …
… won’t show you is that Fredette has been setting up a few steps behind the three-point arc to lob his bombs toward the rim. Jimmer has issues getting even his perimeter shots off against NBA-level defenses, so to avoid that Fredette just started shooting at typically un-optimal parts of the court; something that should be encouraged because he shoots so well from that far out.
This will no doubt help the Bulls, owners of the league’s third-worst offense, and the NBA’s fifth-worst three-point shooting percentage. Mindful of its limitations, Chicago doesn’t even bother with the three-point shot on most nights, as they have taken the fourth-fewest three-pointers of any NBA team this season.
Fredette, should he earn minutes from coach Tom Thibodeau will help this. The Bulls have owned the Eastern Conference’s best record since 2014 started, and mindful implementation of Fredette’s gifts (that is to say, “I don’t care if you’re two feet behind the line – SHOOT IT!”) can’t help but lift Chicago’s offensive spirits.
Fredette, the 2011 NCAA National Player of the Year, is expected to be with the team when it plays New York on Sunday, though there’s no word as to whether or not he’ll be able to suit up.
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