Jimmer Fredette: Why the BYU Star's Weaknesses Are Overblown
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Jimmer Fredette has taken college basketball by storm. In fact, he's been taking college basketball by storm. He averaged over 22 points per game as a junior for BYU in 2009, while getting his name pounded into some of our heads after dropping 49 points on Arizona.
Then he guided BYU to the school's first NCAA tournament victory in over a decade, as he put up over 30 points on Florida and helped his team escape an overtime showdown.
And now that he's back, doing it all again even more impressively, all we can do is try to poke holes in what he's accomplished. Despite leading the nation in scoring with over 27 points per game, and also dishing out over four assists per game, draft experts still want to point out his flaws.
Yes, the kid has a sick jumper, but he can't play defense. Sure, he can score the ball, but only on the college level. Yeah, he can pass a bit, but he's not John Stockton. He may dazzle you now, but he'll be boring and average at the next level.
The kid puts up 27 points per game, has his team standing on just two losses, has been going up against the second-ranked RPI schedule and these are the things people have to say about him.
One NBA scout compared Fredette to former Davidson and current Golden State Warriors star guard Stephen Curry. That scout even went as bold as to say Fredette might be better. Another scout said a statement like that was an insult to Curry's talent.
How's that for a mixed bag?
People are so extreme one way or another that they literally either are enamored with this kid and can't get enough of him, or they're tearing him down with knocks and flaws.
He's just another J.J. Redick. He has a silky smooth shot, but no serious attributes. That, or he's just another scoring phenom that won't translate to the next level. He's Adam Morrison, sans mustache, old school socks and wiry frame.
Again, taking it to extremes. So, we can't compare him to Curry, who by the way, matches him almost completely when you talk about their skill-sets. No, we can't compare him to someone that is actually a success in the NBA, but we can immediately compare him to his white predecessors, who failed to live up to their lofty draft selections.
Is that how it is? Fredette can't possibly be anything close to what Curry is, yet he's cut from the exact same cloth that Redick and Morrison are? Do I have it right?
Well, I don't buy it.
Let's look at the knocks, and instead of just ending the conversation with thoughtless, unimaginative comparisons, lets actually pluck this guy's talent apart with some common sense.
Can Fredette Score at the Next Level?
1. He Can Score in College, Just Not in the NBA
How insane does that sound? The logic that supports this claim says that his scoring ability can't translate to the next level because he's too much like Morrison or Redick.
Other than being another white American basketball player, how is that true, exactly? Morrison was a volume scorer who took shots all over the floor, did not make a living on the free-throw line and didn't contribute anywhere else on the floor.
Fredette has averaged at least four assists per game over the past three seasons, rebounds fairly well for a point guard, gets to the free-throw line and has an extremely balanced offensive attack.
Okay, so he's not Morrison. Then he's Redick, right?
Redick lived off of screens, set jump shots and long range threes that no one would contest. Redick was only an adequate ball handler, was not great at creating for himself or others and was arguably a below average rebounder.
Fredette has a better handle than Redick. He's a much better passer and court leader than Redick was. He's stronger and quicker than Redick was. He has arguably just as much range on his shot, can shoot the ball off of screens, as a spot-up shooter or off the dribble and he can create for himself and others.
Fredette has a more complete game than either Morrison or Redick ever had in college. He's physically stronger than both players were, and his athleticism is also on a higher level.
The fact is, you don't know if a guy can score in the NBA for sure until you draft him and throw him to the wolves. But aside from ridiculous comparisons to guys he has nothing in common with outside of his skin color, there's not much reason to believe Fredette's offensive game can't make a major imprint at the next level.
2. Okay, He's Got Game...But He Can't Defend
Okay, so here comes that amazing logic that everyone spits out when talking about Fredette as a "complete" NBA player. They say how inept of a defensive player he is, how he can't stay in front of his man, how he'll get beat routinely and how much of a liability he'll be.
And that's just in general. Let's not even begin to fathom what will happen to this poor kid when he goes up against the likes of Derrick Rose, John Wall, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook. He's going to get blown away. He'll be left in their dust.
Yeah, probably. But who isn't?
Seriously, tell me another NBA point guard that can stop Derrick Rose from doing whatever he wants to do. Tell me an NBA point guard that can consistently stop Deron Williams from getting to the rim or getting his jumper off.
Where should Fredette get drafted?
You can't. Because this is the NBA, people. All of these guys are there for a reason, and most of them are there because they are sensational passers, lights out shooters, freak athletes or gifted scorers.
And guess what? Fredette falls under at least two of those four categories.
Yes, he is going to have a difficult time keeping up with Derrick Rose. As is John Wall. As is Russell Westbrook. As is Rajon Rondo and so on, right down the line.
But did we ever care to spin it the other way around? While Fredette may not be able to consistently stop the elite point guards, why do people automatically assume they can so easily stop him?
He has endless range. He has a bottomless pit of confidence. He has a major NBA shot. He has good build, solid physical strength and adequate speed and quickness. He can drive, handle the ball, finish near the basket, get to the free throw line and he can create for his teammates.
He can do it all.
So, instead of breaking this kid down and picking him apart for his defense, something that isn't even a strictly enforced skill on every team, why aren't we talking about how difficult of a time all of these current elite point guards are going to have trying to guard him?
3. Time to be Realistic
Ultimately, it doesn't really matter what I or anyone else says. Fredette is what he is. He's an elite scorer who can play the point, but doesn't play very good defense.
However, that doesn't mean he can't improve in that department. What he may lack in quickness or elite athleticism, he arguably makes up for in basketball IQ and physical strength. And that's if he even truly is as physically inept as so many people claim he might be.
Another thing worth noting is that we actually may not know at all what kind of defense Fredette can actually play, because he rarely even tries. Think about it. He's on that floor to do two things: control the tempo and the offense, and score the ball.
He's not there to burn all of his energy trying to shut down the opposition's top guard. That's what teammate and star defender Jackson Emery is there for. It's not just an excuse; it's plain old logic. Fredette gets worn down enough fighting through double teams, lifting for his shots and weaving and winding through the middle of the paint for layups and floaters.
Even if he can play defense, there's enough reason there to believe that we would never see it, because he's not asked to display that part of his game.
Regardless, there will come a time when his defense will need to be better than it currently appears to be. There will need to be a time when he will have to consistently beat elite defenders and prove he can bring his A-class college scoring ability to the next level without missing a beat.
Yes, there may come a time when all of those Fredette critics will have the opportunity to be proven right. But until that time comes, this writer is just going to sit back, relax and watch this kid prove some people wrong.
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