Even for the most ardent basketball fans, it can be tough to keep straight the comings and goings of all the individuals involved. There are 450 NBA roster spots, not to mention D-league players and international prospects, and if you’re trying to get a handle on all 351 Division-1 basketball programs, good luck. One man who knows the struggle is real is ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith, who while discussing a lack of supporting cast for star Anthony Davis on the show First Take last week, said that he had no idea who New Orleans starting point guard Tim Frazier was.
After scoring 21 points on 10-18 shooting, grabbing six rebounds, and dishing out 10 assists in a close loss to the Warriors, Frazier had this to say via Twitter.
"Who is Tim Frazier"….
— Tim Frazier (@Timfraz23) October 29, 2016
Coming off arguably the best game of his life, which included a six-minute stretch where he flat-out worked MVP Steph Curry, seems like the perfect time for Frazier to pound his chest. Even after a tough outing against San Antonio Saturday though, Frazier’s averages thus far this season sit at a solid 13.7 ppg on 50.0 percent from the field, 5.0 rebounds, and 9.3 assists. His 98.3 offensive rating is second-best on the team behind Dante Cunningham, contributing to his fourth-best net rating, notably one spot ahead of Anthony Davis.
All of which is to say that there are plenty of problems on the supporting cast for the Pelicans, but the play from the starting point guard position has not been one of them.
Still, we can maybe excuse Smith’s ignorance just this once. Frazier is currently starting due to the unfortunate health situation with Jrue Holiday’s wife, Lauren. Moreover, people have been overlooking Frazier for years now. Labeled as a 3-star recruit out of Houston, the point guard ended up at Penn State, which it’s recent top-10 recruiting class aside, has never been known as a basketball powerhouse.
As a junior with the Nittany Lions, Frazier averaged 18.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 2.4 steals, doing everything for the program but sell the tickets to the Bryce Jordan Center himself. Just four games into his senior season, though, he blew out his Achilles, and though he came back for a redshirt senior year and averaged 35 minutes per night, his counting stat numbers were slightly down across the board.
With concerns about possible lingering effects of the injury, Frazier’s size at just 6’1″, 165 pounds and his lack of a consistent outside shot (he shot less than 30 percent from three during his final year in University Park), he wasn’t a hot commodity among NBA talent evaluators and went undrafted.
Yet, Frazier kept grinding, getting a training camp deal with the Celtics in 2014, and a pair of 10-day contracts with Philadelphia the following February. He even grabbed a few starts during a time when the peak-Process Sixers were almost literally pulling people off the street to play point guard.
After being let go by Philadelphia, it looked like Frazier might have found a home when he signed a two-year deal with Portland, but he was released to make roster space last trade deadline, to the chagrin of Blazers teammates with whom he was well-liked.
Get my guy @Timfraz23 back in the game
— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) October 29, 2016
Fortunately, Frazier used that setback as an opportunity, signing yet another 10-day contract with New Orleans, and playing the best ball of his career to that point with per-36 minute averages of 16.1 points on 45.0 percent shooting, 5.4 rebounds, and 9.2 assists.
His performance impressed the Pelicans brass enough to offer him a 2-year, $4.1 million deal over the summer, not only the biggest payday of Frazier’s career but a sign that someone finally believed in him for the long haul. The point guard’s play in the opening week of the season has only served to validate the team’s belief.
Who is Tim Frazier? Just another guy in a countless sea of them doing everything in his power to make his name known. It’s November 1, and Tim Frazier turns 26 years old. Do yourself a favor and make sure you know who he is; it would make for a great birthday gift.