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Former NBA D-League MVP Tim Frazier An Early-Season Surprise for Pelicans

By Brian Kotloff | November 2, 2016

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith spoke for many NBA fans when, after taking a look at the Pelicans’ opening night starting lineup, he asked on First Take, “Who the h— is Tim Frazier?”

Now a week into the season, Tim Frazier has provided a resounding answer to that question: He’s the guy ranked fifth in the NBA in assists.

He’s an early season surprise to many, but not a surprise to those who watched him play for the Maine Red Claws or, going back to his college days, the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Who is Tim Frazier?

He’s PSU’s all-time leader in assists, the rare Happy Valley basketball star. After averaging 18.8 points and 6.2 assists as a junior, Frazier suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon that ended his senior season early and set back his NBA Draft prospects. Instead, he returned for a fifth season and went undrafted in 2014.

He’s also a former NBA Development League MVP and Rookie of the Year. A Celtics training camp cut, he won both honors following his spectacular season with Boston’s affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, when he averaged 16.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 9.5 assists in 41 games and led Maine to the top of the Eastern Conference.

Frazier simultaneously emerged as the minor league’s nightly triple-double threat — he’s posted six in 49 career NBADL games, coming either one rebound or one assist short five other times — becoming viral highlight producer in the process.

MORE: Meet NBA D-League MVP Tim Frazier

A few examples:

Frazier’s path to the Pelicans’ starting lineup included stops in Philadelphia and Portland, as both the Sixers and Blazers called him up during his rookie season. He opened last season with the Blazers, as well — becoming close friends with Damian Lillard in the process — but was waived in February.

After returning to the Red Claws and replicating his near triple-double production in eight games (15.0 PPG/9.1 RPG/9.4 APG), Frazier signed a 10-day contract with New Orleans on March 16, dropping 14 points and nine assists on the day of his Call-Up.

Ten days later, the Pelicans signed him for the remainder of the season. Injuries to Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans have forced him into full-time point guard duties to open this season, and he’s responded by showcasing his dynamic ability at the highest level.

Tim Frazier’s Per-36-Minute Statistics
PTS REB AST TO STL FGM/FGA (FG%) 3FGM/3FGA (3FG%)
NBA D-League (49 games) 16.5 7.7 9.8 3.4 1.7 5.7/12.1 (47.3%) 1.1/2.9 (36.7%)
NBA (66 games) 12.2 5.0 8.4 3.2 1.6 4.6/10.9 (42.0%) 0.8/2.5 (32.9%)

 

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