Tim Frazier‘s rookie season has taken him from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon, and having a full-time spot on an NBA playoff team is enough of a reward.
— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) April 21, 2015
But now Frazier has some hardware to commemorate his spectacular first year as a pro as the 2015 NBA Development League Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year.
It’s well deserved for a player who delivered on all fronts as an NBA D-League prospect, staying on the NBA radar with the Maine Red Claws, improving as the season went along and eventually finding a home at the next level.
For those unfamiliar with Frazier’s comeback story and Vine-friendly game, here’s what you need to know about the minor-league star of 2015:
Penn State Made
Fans in Happy Valley were the first to catch a glimpse of the point guard’s dynamic skill set. He averaged 18.8 points, 6.2 assists and 2.4 steals as a junior, earning first-team all-Big 10 and all-defensive team honors, and likely would have reached the NBA sooner if not for an Achilles tear that cost him nearly the entire the 2012-13 season.
Frazier recovered to turn in a solid senior campaign (14.9 PPG, 5.4 APG, 1.6 SPG) and finish as Penn State’s all-time leader in assists while ranking fourth in steals and seventh in scoring.
“In my short time here he’s done everything I’ve asked him to do and then some,” head coach Pat Chambers told PennLive.com following the injury. “He’s resilient. He will persevere. He will rebound from this injury and he will come back bigger, better and stronger, which is scary.”
On the NBA Radar
Despite going undrafted this past June, opportunities came quickly for Frazier. He joined the Sixers for Summer League in July, signed with the Celtics in September and was retained as an affiliate player with the Maine Red Claws.
His Draft Express scouting report was an indication of what lay ahead in Maine, where he quickly asserted himself as the leader of the top team in the Eastern Conference:
Standing 6’0.5 with a 6’2.5 wingspan, Frazier is a scoring point guard with solid quickness and good speed in the open court. His biggest weakness at the moment is his lack of strength and explosiveness at the rim. His 170-pound frame makes it difficult for him to fight through contact in the lane and he doesn’t have the leaping ability to finish over defenders in traffic.
Despite his limitations, Frazier shows the ability to score from all over the court. As both his team’s primary scoring threat and ball-handler, the Houston native carries a huge load in Penn State’s offense. Every possession it seems he’s either running the pick roll, pushing the ball in transition, or creating his own shot one-on-one. Averaging 37.1 minutes per-game, the Nittany Lions go as Frazier goes, his creativity and consistency on a game to game basis play a huge role in their ability to win games.
In February, Frazier earned a 10-day Call-Up to Philadelphia and enjoyed a historic NBA debut.
— NBA D-League (@nbadleague) February 7, 2015
After missing the cut in Philly, he returned to Maine to help the Red Claws lock down the No. 1 seed in the East with a franchise-best 35-15 record. On March 30 — five days before the end of the NBA D-League regular season — the Blazers called up him for the remainder of the NBA season.
Triple-Double Threat/Vine Star
While the NBA’s triple-double spotlight shined on Russell Westbrook each night and Stephen Curry rolled out a made-for-Vine highlight just as frequently, Frazier served both roles at the minor-league level.
During one 12-game stretch following the NBA D-League Showcase in mid-January, he averaged 16.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 11.8 assists, including a spree of three triple-doubles in five games. He finished the season with four in 41 games, but fell either one rebound or one assist shy of a triple-double four other times.
And his wizardry with the ball, clutch play and vision as a floor general made for highlight after highlight after highlight: