J.J. Frazier: Settling into sixth man role nicely


J.J. Frazier has had to assume a sixth man role with the Georgia Bulldogs in 2015-16. How he performs in that role going forward will be huge for the Dawgs.

Entering 2015-16, it seemed like Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mark Fox would use a starting lineup featuring all three strong upperclassmen guards: Senior Charles Mann, senior Kenny Gaines, and junior J.J. Frazier.

However, when UGA lacked the necessary defensive identity with all three players as starters in the home opening loss to the Chattanooga Mocs in overtime, Fox opted to start junior forward Houston Kessler down low next to sophomore forward Yante Maten and junior forward Kenny Paul Geno in the UGA frontcourt. This move relegated that strong player in J.J. Frazier into a sixth man type of role for the Bulldogs.

-= See Also: Yante Maten: The inside presence UGA needs =-

He had served in this capacity last season with UGA having strong low post play in the now-graduated forwards of Nemanja Djurisic and Marcus Thornton. Since UGA’s three best players entering 2015-16 were in their backcourt, it in theory made sense to go ahead with a trio of guards in the starting lineup. However, it hurt UGA on the glass and the low post play went to the wayside in favor of erratic jump shooting.

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Could J.J. Frazier start at guard on most SEC teams? Certainly, as he will probably have to next season at UGA once Mann and Gaines graduate. Though this isn’t the role he probably wanted, it’s been to UGA’s benefit that it has a terrific player like J.J. Frazier coming off the bench.

It allows Fox to have the upper hand with three different guard combos he can put out on the floor. Frazier becomes the primary ball handler with Gaines on the court, but assumes a shooting guard role when Mann is on the floor. In essence it allows J.J. Frazier to do what he does best: play great basketball.

This move has ancillary effects, too. Putting Kessler down low allows emerging star sophomore forward Yante Maten to venture into the mid-range offensive game, while still having a strong presence on the glass.

This has taken some of the pressure of junior wing Kenny Paul Geno who then assumes traditional small forward principles. By moving Kessler up to starter it has allowed for more minutes for a good-looking freshman Mike Edwards to bang on the glass. Experience for big men in the physical SEC is almost always crucial.

I love this move to have J.J. Frazier as a sixth man, as it allows him to take on multiple roles in Mark Fox’s offense. It is preparing him for taking over the backcourt once Gaines and Mann have graduated and Frazier along with true freshman William Jackson are running the offense next year.

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  • A perfect example of how this move to sixth man is impacting Frazier’s development is that he is 3rd on the team in points per game (13.3), 2nd on the team in rebounds per game (4.9), and 1st on the team in assists per game (4.0).

    Keep in mind that Frazier is the smallest member on the team at 5’10”, 150 pounds and has only started two games this season: the home opening loss to Chattanooga and last night versus Winthrop out of necessity, as Kenny Gaines didn’t play until late in the game for precautionary health reasons. Fox doesn’t want his starting shooting guard to come down with anything before finals.

    Frazier is a unique player in that he can create his own shot off the dribble, create shots for others, and has a knack for procuring rebounds despite being the smallest man on the court most minutes. It’s these type of selfless moves that will allow UGA to become a scary team once SEC play gets here. Having their health and figuring out the rotation will do wonders for this year’s team.

    Next: Georgia Bulldogs defeat Winthrop Eagles, 74-64

    This team has a high ceiling for two important reasons: Yante Maten is becoming a star at forward and few are better coming off the bench than J.J. Frazier. Georgia is in finals week and will play in-state rival Georgia Tech next in over a week’s time. Go Dawgs!