On early Monday afternoon, the Memphis Hustle announced on their team site that they’ve acquired former Georgia guard J.J. Frazier off the NBA G League player pool. In able to make space for Frazier, the Hustle announced that they waived guard Jerome Seagears, whom the team just acquired on January 26th.
This move comes at the same time that the Hustle is having their best stretch of their inaugural season as they’ve won three of their last four . Within that stretch, the Hustle have taken down three playoff contenders in the Wisconsin Herd, Rio Grande Valley Vipers and Austin Spurs. Sure, the Hustle are still 6 games below .500 with a 15-21 record and sit 5 games behind the RGV Vipers for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, but you still have to be impressed with what they were able to do against some of the G League’s best.
That hot stretch might have a good chance of extending past three games due to them bringing in a dynamic scoring guard in the 5’10 JJ Frazier. Before making his way to the G League, he shined as one of the best scorers in the entire SEC. As a senior, Frazier stood out by putting up 18.8 points, 4.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game on 41% from the field. That great play was enough for Frazier to be named First Team All-SEC during the 2016-17 season.
Although Frazier was extremely inefficient from beyond the arc during his senior season, as he shot 30% on 5.3 perimeter attempts per game, that singular season might not tell the full story about what he can do as a perimeter weapon. In the prior two seasons, Frazier was far more efficient as he shot 39% from beyond the arc when he was a sophomore and junior.
So while that senior year might’ve seemed a little worrisome, it still might not tell the story of how he’d be when he’s working in the NBA. Because what he lacked in consistency during his senior year, Frazier more than makes up for it in confidence in that perimeter stroke. Throughout his college career, he was more than willing to spread his range and put up shots that were well beyond the NBA three-point line. Again, that confidence didn’t end up prospering too many times but it still made sense as his shooting mechanics are incredible solid as his jumper is quick and ends with a high release point.
Coinciding with his jumper, Frazier was able to smoke opposing SEC defenses by just regularly being the quickest dude on the court at most times. Even more impressive than his lateral quickness is the incredible acceleration that he possess. In a blink of an eye, he can go from dribbling the ball on the perimeter to getting ready to put up a layup at the rim. Although he does possess other nice dribble moves, most of the time it isn’t necessary as his great acceleration allows him to easily drive his way past most defenders.
That speed is also extremely apparent when he’s working in transition as Frazier is either able to just out run them or just change speeds multiple times to just trick the opposing team and get a better path to the basket.
Last but not least, Frazier flashes some solid potential as a facilitator. Within the half-court, he does a nice job of being able to work with his pick-and-roll man whether that partner is cutting to the rim or staying at the perimeter. The most fun comes when that roll man is driving the paint as Frazier is able to make these precise passes to that player. That passing accuracy remains when he’s working in drive-and-dish as he does a nice job of working it off to a perimeter shooter after he works his way towards the paint.
Those traits allowed Frazier to average 4.1 assists per game with a 1.8 Ast/TO ratio during his senior season. Although neither of those numbers are eye-popping, they’re pretty solid averages for someone that was a score-first guard at Georgia.
As Frazier looks to make his transition to the Hustle, I think he could fit in within the team’s 2nd unit. Sure, that might not be the most desired role for someone that was an elite college player just last year, but I still think its the best role for a team that currently has their starting backcourt in place with Marquis Teague and Kobi Simmons. Although Durand Scott occasionally sneaks into that starting unit when either player is unavailable to compete, that core essentially seems set in stone at this point in the season.
Although this may seem too much for an incoming player that struggled in France, I think Frazier could end up being one of the better 6th men in the entire NBA G League. That confidence comes from how his on-court style fits well within the Hustle system and potentially as a leader of a 2nd unit. In regards to style, the blazing quick Frazier should fit well within a Hustle offense that currently ranks 7th in the G League in PACE with 105.87 possessions per 48 minutes.
That solid fit could become even better within the Hustle’s 2nd unit as he’ll be looked as the player that will bring instant offense when Teague and Simmons are sitting on the bench. As we’ve already discussed, Frazier is a well-rounded offensive threat that works his butt off and has also shown that he can get it done in clutch moments.
As a pick-and-roll facilitator, he’ll have an opportunity to work alongside solid rookie big Austin Nichols who can set solid screens, hit the perimeter jumper and roll his way to the basket. After working around that screen, Frazier can decide to do his offensive magic or work it to someone like Nichols, Trahson Burrell, Durand Scott or Dusty Hannahs. The attention that could be dedicated to a great offensive guard like Frazier could create more offensive opportunities for those other 2nd unit players. Those extra opportunities should lead to more points for the Hustle as those players will have open shot opportunities.
So not only could Frazier be a dynamic offensive weapon in one of the quicker offenses in the G League, he’ll also be able to just make other players around him just a little bit better. Although the odds are against the Hustle to get back to .500 let alone make the playoffs, I think the addition of Frazier can give them a boost to help turn those big dreams into a reality.