SALT LAKE CITY — The Golden State Warriors are bringing in Jimmer Fredette for next month’s Las Vegas Summer League, giving the former BYU star another opportunity to make it in the NBA.
For fans of Fredette, a marriage with the Warriors has long been a dream scenario, with their wide-open style of play and reliance on the 3-point shot.
Fredette last played with the Phoenix Suns last season, finishing out the season essentially trying out for the Suns' 2019-20 roster. He appeared in six games and averaged 3.7 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists.
On Monday, the Suns officially waived the team option they had for Fredette this season, allowing him to audition for the Warriors roster. While in Phoenix, he failed to convert on any of his 13 3-point attempts.
During the Warriors' most recent finals run, they lost both their best player in Kevin Durant and their second best shooter — and maybe the second best shooter in the NBA (trailing only Steph Curry) — in Klay Thompson. If the Warriors are simply looking to add a willing shooter, Fredette makes sense.
The former Cougar has shown his shooting ability professionally in the NBA, in the former D-League and in China. Despite making just two 3-point attempts in his last two stints in the NBA, Fredette is a career 37% 3-point shooter — a good, albeit not spectacular number, though he’s shot 41% or better each of the last two seasons in China.
If Fredette were to make the Warriors roster, he would step into a unique but potentially ideal situation next season.
Coming off five consecutive finals appearances and an injury-depleted roster, the Warriors are in the twilight of their championship window. While they should still compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, they won’t be competing for a championship, and therefore no one roster spot will be credited with or blamed for the successes or failures of their roster.
As opposed to some of the younger rosters Fredette played has played on in Sacramento, Chicago, New Orleans, New York and Phoenix, the Warriors wouldn’t rely on Fredette to be the difference maker; he'd simply be a shot-making reserve.
In theory, Fredette makes perfect sense for a Warriors gamble.
But since leaving BYU, Fredette has been a theoretical fit on every NBA roster, adding dynamic shooting off the dribble in a league that relies more on perimeter shooting every year. Where he has come up short, though, is nearly everywhere else on the basketball floor.
Fredette is repeatedly targeted by opposing offenses, either in isolation or in the pick and roll, and teams usually find success to thwart his defensive efforts. He's not tall or athletic enough to stay on the floor defensively for long stretches. Offensively, Fredette’s never developed beyond a shooter and has struggled to finish inside the 3-point line or be a shot creator for others.
Though Golden State has a reputation as a prolific 3-point shooting team, they aren’t as reliant on the deep ball as many would think. The Warriors attempted the ninth most 3-point attempts in the league last year, barely making the top third of the league.
For reference, the Jazz shot more threes last year than Golden State, which has a richer tradition of finding roles for players with versatile skill sets — Draymond Green, Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala — than they do for single skill players like Marreese Speights.
Fredette is getting yet another opportunity to make it in the NBA, a testament to his elite ability to shoot and score the ball. And though other teams have struggled to find a role in the NBA for a player as unique as the former Naismith College Player of the Year, perhaps a more established roster like the Warriors can be a better situation for Fredette.
The Warriors, in some ways, feel like a perfect marriage for Fredette. But if they don’t see a more versatile game, his time with Golden State may look more like a summer fling.
Ben Anderson is a contributor at KSL.com, follow him on Twitter @BensHoops. Listen to him 2-6, Monday through Friday with Kyle Gunther on ESPN 700.