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Tim Frazier has yet to fix the Wizards' persistent bench woes

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Despite posting impressive assist numbers, Washington’s new backup point guard hasn’t been able to fix the team’s bench struggles.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Wizards punting on draft picks is as much of an annual occurrence as the draft itself. But when I heard that the team traded the 52nd pick to the New Orleans Pelicans for Tim Frazier last summer, and not the dreaded “cash considerations” later to be used on a putrefied veteran, I became irrationally excited.

A pick that late in the draft has almost no chance of panning out, but Frazier seemed to have the makings of a reliable backup point guard – something John Wall has rarely had during his time in Washington.

When given the proper minutes and freedom, Frazier showed he was capable of dropping double-digit assists and managing an offense in New Orleans, despite sharing the court with below-average players such as Toney Douglas, Luke Babbitt and Alexis Ajinca.

Washington would certainly surround Frazier with more talent, allowing him to thrive as a distributing maestro, I thought. Nine games into the season, that hasn’t happened. The Wizards’ bench is 21st in scoring and is the sixth least efficient offense in the NBA, per HoopsStats. And the backup point guard spot remains unstable, as it’s been for years now.

The faces have changed, but the Wizards’ second unit is still pretty much the same – inconsistent and rather unreliable. Frazier, like his predecessors in D.C., hasn’t done much to stick as the primary backup other than rack up assists, which come with a caveat.

Frazier is averaging 14.2 assists per 100 possessions, the second-best mark in the league among players who have played at least 100 minutes this season. He’s averaging more assists per 100 possessions than James Harden, LeBron James, Ben Simmons, and even John Wall. He’s done a solid job of connecting with the big men, mainly Ian Mahinmi, on the screen-and-roll and he finds open shooters regularly.

Still, even with Frazier’s passing, the team as a whole is struggling to score. The team’s offensive rating with him on the floor is 100.7, which would tie Utah for the 23rd-best mark in the league. By comparison, the Wizards’ offensive rating without him on the floor is 111.5, the second-best mark in the league.

Frazier’s production almost mirrors what the Wizards got from Brandon Jennings last season. He averaged 14.2 assists per 100 possessions in Washington last season, just like Frazier, but it was never enough to overcome his shortcomings as a scorer or defender.

Washington hoped Jennings would eventually become a scoring spark, but it never happened. He only shot 27.4 percent from the field and 21.2 percent from deep. The expectations, at least in terms of scoring, haven’t been as high for Frazier, but he’s failed to become even somewhat palatable as a scorer. Frazier has made just 27.6 percent of his total attempts and is 2 of 13 on threes this season.

There’s a notion that Frazier will eventually find his shot in D.C., but even if gets back to career averages, it won’t help things much. Frazier is a career 39.8 percent shooter from the field and 30.6 percent from three. If Frazier is “going to get better and find his shot,” how much better will he get? Will he reach the “pretty awful” level which is what he’s been for the past three years and improve from the current “guaranteed brick” status?

Sure – Frazier is better than Trey Burke and Eric Maynor, but that’s more of an indictment on the latter than a testament to how well he’s played. If anything, it’s an indication as to how undependable Wall’s backups have been for the past eight seasons.

Poll

Has Tim Frazier met your expectations?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Yes - he’s been reliable
    (71 votes)
  • 20%
    Yes - he’s always been below-average
    (105 votes)
  • 38%
    No - I expected more
    (195 votes)
  • 26%
    No - but he’ll eventually improve
    (135 votes)
506 votes total Vote Now