Michael Frazier II's performance against Illawarra has silenced his critics. (Photo: Perth Wildcats)

Michael Frazier II's stat line against the Hawks may not have jumped off the page, but his game showed just how important he is to this Wildcats team.

Michael Frazier II was one of the most talked about signings in the NBL off-season. Not because of how good he is. Not because of how well he would fit the Wildcats. But because of how odd the signing was.

The 6’4 two guard was an interesting signing by Perth because of its lack of depth at the centre position, combined with a stacked shooting guard/forward roster. The Wildcats already had Todd Blanchfield, Luke Travers, Corey Shervill, and even Vic Law in that position. So why did they need Frazier?

While the Wildcats would go onto to sign seasoned veteran Matt Hodgson to fill their void at the five, it was always thought that they would sign an import big instead of Frazier.

Frazier is not a bad player though. Not even close to being one. In 2019, during his stint in the G-League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, he would win both the G-League’s Most Improved Player Award and the championship.

After his college career with the Florida Gators, he holds the school’s record for most threes made in a season (118) and most threes made in a game (11). He also tied the university’s record with Joakim Noah for most points in a single game (37), and is Florida’s all-time box plus/minus leader (9.4 per game). 

He has slowly but surely cemented his spot in the Wildcats rotation. While not putting up big numbers, he has shown his worth within this set-up. His defence and rebounding has been second to none and has added a lot to Perth this season.

Frazier had a breakout game in Wollongong this past Saturday against the Illawarra Hawks. Putting up nine points, 11 rebounds and five assists to go with his defensive game on Tyler Harvey.

He kept the runner-up MVP to only 11 points in 38 minutes of game time. His defensive work with Mitch Norton caused him to shoot a woeful 27 per cent from the field (5/18) and a shocking 11 per cent from the three (1/9). His defence is going to keep him in this team, and that is going to make him a fan favourite in the Red Army’s eyes.

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In the post-game press conference, head coach Scott Morrison was asked about his recruitment over a big and his game against Illawarra.

“I thought he was really good. He’s in a tough spot too because he’s not usually the first option offensively,” Morrison said.

“I mean if we play the right way on offence, everyone will get their chances to score and attack. But he’s not the first option that we were calling plays for. So, coming in as an import, that’s something he’s had to get his head around.

“He’s done a great job just doing whatever the team needs, and tonight the team needed him to play tough defence on really good players, which he did. Executed the defensive game plan, which he did and then he added the playmaking and the rebounding.”

Morrison went on to say, “it would be tough to find an import big that can get you 11 rebounds and five assists. I’m sure there’s some guys out there”.

“I’ll take what Mike brings, his skillset over another player which we could have got. So, I’m really happy with his progress.

“He’s a guy that didn’t get much of a chance in pre-season because he was injured, and I think we’re starting to see guys like him and Todd [Blanchfield] and Mitch [Norton] can do when they get some reps under them.”

Frazier also received praise on The Crossover from former NBL championship winner, Damon Lowery.

“You might look at the stat line and think it didn’t really jump off the page. Nine points, 11 rebounds, five assists. But what Michael Frazier does is he keeps things ticking over,” Lowery said.

“When Bryce is quiet, Michael keeps things ticking over. When Vic Law can’t get a shot in the first quarter… Michael keeps things ticking over.

“Everybody can’t always be the driver of the car, somebody’s got to sit in the back seat. When he’s in the car, it’s an enjoyable ride.”

Frazier and the Wildcats play their next game back in Wollongong, against the Hawks on Thursday night.

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