Tuesday, March 29, 2011

6 comments The NBA Future of Jimmer

Because my creative juices were not flowing yesterday or today, I'm piggybacking my own previous writing. Here's a link to a post I made for Dime Magazine along with another writer. I'm not sure if any of you read it, but you should. For those of you that are too lazy to click (I probably wouldn't click on the link), I've re-posted it below.

Now that Jimmer Fredette's college career has come to an end, it’s time to look at his NBA potential. Tyler Hansbrough, J.J. Redick and Stephen Curry stirred similar controversy when their record-breaking careers ended and the NBA horizon loomed. Take a look as we debate the potential of arguably the best player in college basketball.

Stud by Dylan

He’s already got the one name moniker that has penetrated the furthest depths of the basketball universe. He’s got the killer crossover, the pull-up three. If there were ever anyone to personify Gus Johnson’s famous “Rise and Fire,” it’s Jimmer. He’s got the on-court flare, the off-court humility and the swagger to carry a dreadful combination of poor rebounding and minimal outside shooting to the Sweet 16, and nearly the Elite Eight. So who’s to say he can’t be an NBA star as well?

I understand the naysayers. He’s shoot-first. He’s a tweener. He has J.J. Redick and Kyle Korver written all over him. At worst, I’d agree. But at best, we’re looking at another Stephen Curry. Their college career paths are remarkably similar, along with their styles of play. It wasn’t Curry’s athleticism or handle that facilitated his graceful slithering in and out of opposing defenses. It was an eclectic combination of head fakes, hesitations and superb court vision that allowed him to outmaneuver the overly aggressive and physical defenders that define college basketball. The NBA is full of the worst and best kind of this bunch: supremely athletic defenders obsessed with SportsCenter-type swats as opposed to staying in front of their man. This is what Jimmer is primed to take advantage of.

For those questioning his sometimes sub-par shot selection, fear not. Sitting in the middle of his team’s scoring pecking order will force Jimmer to temper his trigger-happy right hand. Don’t expect him, however, to completely overhaul his game. The NBA has often proved that college stars do not adjust well to a minimal NBA role (see Adam Morrison). That said, Jimmer will not become a chucker. He’ll pay his dues at first, providing an off-the-bench scoring explosion. Once he displays his potential, he’ll unleash the full power of his superior basketball intelligence.

Will he be a top NBA player? Probably not. But basketball IQ is an underrated facet of NBA scorers. A thunderous LeBron dunk may look more impressive, but a simple pump fake leading to a short jumper is just as effective. That’s how Jimmer will make his money.

Dud by Jaimie Canterbury

It’s pretty much a general consensus that Jimmer Fredette is the best scorer in the nation. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone that would argue otherwise. However, great college scorers do not always transition well to the NBA. As of now, it’s up in the air as to whether or not Fredette will be successful at the next level. When push comes to shove, his lack of defensive principles will hold him back.

Amongst collegiate competition, Jimmer is as good as they come. But the college game and the NBA game are night and day. Throughout Jimmer’s career at BYU, there was never a time when he was not the No. 1 option. It’s going to be difficult for him to transition from the top of the tower to the bottom of the totem pole. Now that the green light has turned into a yellow light, it’s going to be interesting to see how Jimmer reacts. He won’t be able to get hot and go on scoring binges when he’s not the main guy.

What can really end up hurting him is that he has shown (particularly in last week’s Sweet 16 game) that he has trouble defending. If he has trouble staying in front of Erving Walker, can he stay in front of John Wall, Chris Paul or Derrick Rose? That alone can scare NBA scouts away from drafting him. Frankly, his success on the next level will be measured by his ability to defend.

Jimmer’s undeveloped defensive foundation will hold him back immensely at the next level. At BYU, he never really faced the best competition throughout the season and therefore never had to defend any high-caliber guards. His defense was simply outscoring his matchup. Those days have come to an end. He has also built a habit of conserving energy on defense for the offensive end. In the NBA, he won’t be able to do that. Last week against Florida, he looked exhausted from struggling to keep up with Walker and his shooting suffered from his fatigue (scoring zero points in the overtime period).

There is plenty of room for improvement on the defensive end for Fredette. Until a significant improvement is made, he will have a hard time keeping up on the next level. He has no choice but to learn to defend, because he is better than a specialty role player (i.e. Kyle Korver). And if he wants to fulfill his star potential, defense is the key.


Arjun Chandrasekhar said...

dylan you took the words right out of my mouth. worst case I see him as a ben gordon-type of scoring guard that can light it up off the bench. best case, i think he can pull the steve nash routine - you're damn right i just went there. when i watch jimmer i see a lot of the same qualities that made nash great during my time in phoenix; the way he finds creative angles to get to his spots, the way he somehow finishes at the rim against longer, more athletic opponents, the way he always seems to know when to pass and when to shoot. he doesn't rely on athleticism; he uses his hoops IQ, his handles, and his wide array of fakes to get around on the court. his court vision and playmaking are highly underrated. The reason he was such a gunner at byu is that he had no choice; byu's only hope for winning was for jimmer to score 40 a night, something that won't be the case in the pros. to dismiss him as just another morrison or hansbrough is lazy to me.

Bengoodfella said...

I've made my opinion known when I did my post about the 1st round draft prospects a few weeks ago. Not much has changed since. I saw what I thought I would see in the tourney. He got his shot blocked three times in the first half against Florida because he's aggressive and goes to the basket.

Jimmer will be a role player in the NBA. He's like the Tebow of the NBA. The problem I see is how he will fit in on a team where he can't be the gunner. You can say he had to score so many points for the team to succeed, which may be true, but what will he provide on the court when he can't shoot 20 times per game?

BYU had a great offense for him. He didn't even have to play in the flow of it and could just launch a three point shot when he wanted to. He WAS the team. That will change in the NBA.

He doesn't finish at the rim against athletic opponents, that's the problem. Against Florida, which would qualify as a more athletic opponent, half of his shots were three point shots. Actually, that's true for a lot of games. Most of his shots were three pointers and he uses that shot to set up his inside drives to the basket. Bottom line is he isn't going to have 20 shots to get his points in the NBA.

I see him as coming off the bench and maybe developing into something bigger, which could very well happen. He's talented. He's no Steve Nash and never will be. Nash is a distributor point guard and Fredette distributes when he isn't busy shooting the ball or can't get his shot. That's the difference in them.

Also, nothing about Jimmer is underrated. He's going to be the National Player of the Year. He has not been underrated in any way. I think he could have a bright future in the NBA, but I will be interested to see what happens when he can't have all of the shots he has taken and has to distribute the ball before anything else. He can succeed at that.

The comparisons to Morrison are stupid. They are nothing alike, nor have they ever been. They are both white, that's about it.

Martin F. said...

Dale Ellis. That's who I see when I see Jimmer. Guy with great range and very good shot with below average lateral movement who will have trouble defending point guards because of it. He's to small to handle many shooting guards, so I think he will never be an effective starter. I have no doubt he will be a very effective bench player who can start on occasion because of injury.

He symbolizes this draft to me. A bunch of guys who can be highly effective players, but no stars.

Bengoodfella said...

Martin F, I think very similar to you. Fredette will be a great bench player and a guy who can come in and offer offense. At some point, perhaps he could turn into a starter, or maybe he could be a starter for a while until someone gets a scouting report on him.

My biggest issue with him is that in the college game he had a chance to set up shots later in the game...meaning he could drive by a guy to the basket and then later hoist up a 35 foot three point shot. I don't know if he will have time in the NBA to set up his defenders like he did in college. He's incredibly talented and I don't question his talent, but I think it will be tough to go from an offense built around him to an offense where he is the 4th/5th option.

He needs to learn to be effective scoring points going from the main ball-handler who looks for his shot first and then the pass to a guy who may be open, to a guy who has to look pass-first like good NBA point guards do.

I think he does have great vision, but most of his good passes are a result of the defense paying a lot of attention to him. I don't think that will happen at the NBA level. What happens when the defense doesn't collapse off him, what kind of passer will he be then?

Arjun Chandrasekhar said...

that is a fair point that he won't have so many shots to be able to get into a rhythm as he did at byu. a lot of guys in the nba certainly struggle when they go to the bench and need to provide instant offense without being able to get into a rhythm. we'll see how that affects him.

jimmer is not underrated as an overall player, but everybody focuses on his scoring and his passing gets overlooked. he was 3rd in his conference in assist rate, he's not just a gunner that can't pass. that's all i'm saying. he's not exactly like nash but a lot of his game is similar, and i think jimmer can succeed against significantly more athletic opponents using many of the same skills and techniques that nash uses.

when defenses don't collapse on him he will finish at the rim. at least that is my belief. yes he's not athletic but he is good at using angles, body control, and creativity to find was to put the ball in the basket. i can understand people not being as high on him as i am - i might be going a little over the top. but for people to say that he can't play in the nba at all is garbage (i'm looking at you, rick reilly). i'm convinced that at the very least he can pull the ben gordon-routine as a guy that can come off the bench to light up opposing second units, carry the offense for stretches, and occasionally have plays run for him at the end of games.

Bengoodfella said...

Arjun, I say that about rhythm because that is what held up J.J. Redick in the NBA. I am not comparing the two players, but I know he was used to being able to shoot himself into a rhythm and set up the defender and he didn't have time for that in the NBA. I was surprised the Magic didn't give up on him.

I can see Jimmer using some of the strategery that Nash uses, perhaps we will call it the underrated speed Nash has, but I am not sure I would compare him to Nash any more than that. I may look stupid in a few years, but I don't think Jimmer is a natural passer, though he will sneak by opponents at first with this deceptive speed.

I do question his ability to finish at the basket. I do this simply because I think some of the creativity he uses won't work as well in the NBA. What he does have going for him are the angles he uses, so I could be high on him in the future for that reason. Still, I don't seem him being any more than a strong offensive guy off the bench. Maybe a Vinnie Johnson type player.