The Chicago Bulls had every reason to throw in the towel this season. Former MVP Derrick Rose went down 11 games into the season with another knee injury. Leading scorer Luol Deng was traded to the Cavaliers shortly after the New Year.
Yet, the Bulls are still not just hanging around in the playoff race, but are solidly in the top four in the Eastern Conference and will try and come up a winner with another roll of the dice on a player plucked from the scrap heap.
After scoring perhaps the season’s best waiver wire pickup in D.J. Augustin, SI.com is reporting that the Bulls have come to a tentative agreement with guard Jimmer Fredette, the former No. 10 overall pick who was waived Friday by the Sacramento Kings.
Fredette could be exactly what Chicago needs. As well as the Bulls have played, they are last in the NBA in scoring at 93.1 points per game, 28th in offensive rating at 98.4 points per 100 possessions and tied for 25th in 3-point shooting at 34.4 percent.
That’s where Jimmer could come in.
Fredette is shooting 49.3 percent from 3-point range this season, hitting 36-of-73 in the 41 games he played for Sacramento. He averaged 5.9 points per game in 11.3 minutes, a very respectable per-36 minutes average of 18.7. His player efficiency rating for the Kings was a solid 16.4 (15 is average) and his defensive rating even improved (if 111 points per 100 possessions could ever be considered an improvement, it would be a season after posting a mark of 115).
But perhaps more than anything else, Fredette is a guy who can create for himself, something the Bulls have a severe shortage of. Fredette has made half of his 3-pointers this year unassisted and 68.1 percent of his total buckets come without an assist.
By contrast, 64.6 percent of Chicago’s baskets this year are assisted and the only players in the rotation who create more than half of their own points are Augustin (54.9 percent unassisted) and Kirk Hinrich (50.3 percent).
But Fredette also does OK in catch-and-shoot situations, hitting 50 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts and 46.2 percent of his overall catch-and-shoot shots, according to NBA.com’s player tracking stats.
And, about the whole … defense … thing. Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson are two examples of players not known as good defenders who were able to exist under the defensive regimen of coach Tom Thibodeau, so it’s not out of the question that Fredette could find a niche in Chicago.
Chicago was 3-1 last week, and have won eight of its last nine overall, opening the week with a loss at Miami on Sunday before stringing together three straight victories—at Atlanta on Tuesday, over the Warriors at home on Wednesday and at Dallas on Friday.
The Bulls are now 32-26, the best they have been in relation to the .500 mark all season. That is good for a third-place tie with Toronto in the Eastern Conference, 9½ games clear of the ninth-place Cavaliers and 1½ games ahead of Washington for home-court advantage in the first round. Chicago trails the second-place Heat by 11 games while trailing the Central Division-leading Pacers by 13 games.
Here is the week that was, including game reviews, some news and notes, the rookie watch, injury updates, and player of the week selection, as well as a look ahead to next week’s action (all statistical information from NBA.com/Stats):