NBA Draft 2011: A Fair Perspective on BYU Star Jimmer Fredette's Future

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NBA Draft 2011: A Fair Perspective on BYU Star Jimmer Fredette's Future
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I like the article "Jimmer Fredette as an NBA Prospect: I Wouldn't Bet Against Him" by Tyler Stimson.

I am a big fan of Jimmer Fredette the college player, but too many fans overlook Fredette's limitations and make comparisons that will not hold up to scrutiny. To say in the "(b)est-case scenario, he can become the next Deron Williams, Steve Nash or Stephen Curry on the right team" is unfair to Fredette and overlooks some of what he lacks.

A lot of what happens to the Fredette depends on where he lands. For most teams early in the draft, Fredette will be too risky a pick and certainly not the best player on the board given their needs (most of the teams drafting high are there because the team stinks defensively).

Fredette might be able to do what he does now at the next level. If he can't, he'll end up a cautionary tale.

Jimmer is not a project player. He is a player who will be tested. There is no pool "raw athleticism" to work with like there is with Perry Jones or John Wall. He is not suddenly going to develop a lightning-quick first step, the ability to dunk in crowds or grab six or seven boards a game. He does not shoot passing lanes for steals or take the ball out of opposing point guards hands.  

Fredette will have prove he can score in bunches or become a primary distributor to survive in the NBA. 

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The question of whether or not he can shoot has been answered again and again for four seasons. The question is everything else. Curry could shoot coming out of college as well. He faced the same questions and answered by becoming a better playmaker.

As an aside, comparing Curry to Nash and Williams is like placing three completely different types of point guard in the same sentence. Of the three, Nash was the biggest draft steal.

Curry is a small, not overwhelming quick, shoot first, catch-and-shoot point guard with virtually no physical presence. 

Nash is an extremely quick, pass-first guard who is a model of efficiency when he shoots. His on-ball defense is average at best. Nash can take control of a game without even shooting a shot, but he does shoot and, when he does, it is at one of the best percentages for all guards in the league.  

Williams is a physical, ball pounding, point guard with play maker skills and a scorer's mentality. He can take a bigger defender to the rack or put smaller defenders on his back. Deron Williams is built like a running back.

Fredette will never be a Deron Williams type player. Deron is bigger, faster, stronger, and much, much more explosive. Williams is very similar to a young Baron Davis. With a running start and a slight lane to the basket, Deron is a threat to drive the lane and dunk OVER the last defender.  Fredette will never the physical tools to do that.

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Fredette is unlikely to be the next Steve Nash. Nash is much quicker and a more natural passer. The similarity between Fredette and Nash is that both players are capable of converting the ball at a very high rate when they shoot.

The big differences are play making ability, speed, and quickness. Nash keeps the defense on its heels. Additionally, Nash is a very rare player in his ability to keep his dribble alive in the paint. And, similar to a running quarterback, Nash extends the play.

Fredette is unlikely to ever have a season in which he averages 12 or 13 assists per game. He could, but no one has really had the chance to see him as a primary distributor. Nash is a rare player. Nash is a true point guard. Fredette, presently, is a lead (combo) guard.

Does he have the quickness to get passing angles? Is he willing to part with the ball? Will he give up his own shot attempts? Will he end up in a system that emphasizes the pick and roll? (That should be a strong area for him, because the best pick and roll guys shoot the ball at a high clip and that frees up the screener.)

Fredette has the best chance of being a Stephen Curry type player.

Jimmer is stronger and Curry is quicker. But both have range and the ability to get a shot off. Curry, because of his quickness, has a distinct advantage over Fredette because he can create space more easily.

Who do you project Jimmer to be Most Similar to?

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Fredette has been impressive all season, and is averaging almost 35 PPG since Davies was suspended. There are not a lot of guys who can do that anywhere in D-I ball.

However, going to the NBA is a huge step up from the Mountain west. Point guards are bigger and quicker—but the difference in size between college point guards and pro point guards is not as great as the difference in athleticism at all the other positions.

At each of the four other positions, the players will all be as athletic and skilled as the best players that Fredette has ever faced. NBA sets include a great deal more man-to-man than Fredette has played lately.

What happens when Fredette has to switch?

Most of the college forwards Fredette has faced will never get on an NBA roster and of those that do, most will never succeed in the NBA. There are probably twenty players in the NBA today that if dropped in a regular (not All-Star) college game could go for 40 points a game.

Fredette's first challenge will be proving that he can be an average NBA player.

His best hope is to land on a team that already has some defenders in place. A team like New York, Golden State, or Minnesota would be awful for his career, because the bigs do not hedge or show well and he would get hung out to dry. 

The good news is that Jimmer has a great combination of extreme range and the ability to get to the free throw line. Because he is bigger and stronger than either Nash or Curry, Fredette is less contact shy.

Even still, those who expect Jimmer to be able to blow by NBA guards and get into the lane as easily as he does now are setting themselves up for disappointment. He will spend quite a bit of time at "Jimmer range" and whoever is guarding him will be picking him up at half court.  Jimmer does not "blow by" defenders, he gets by defenders and there is a big difference. 

Jimmer Fredette is great college player, but he is not a player to build a team around. There has only been one good team in 30+ years recent history built around a Jump Shooting Guard. That was the Indiana Pacers with Reggie Miller. Some could argue Ray Allen in Seattle, but was that really a good team?

Some aspects of Fredette's game are difficult to assess, because he plays so many minutes and the coach goes out of his way to hide him in the defense. I have difficulty recalling the last time I have seen a coach go that far out of the way to makes sure a player is completely free of defensive responsibility.

That is cause for concern. Even though he is good on the offensive end, basketball games are won on the defensive end. My guess is that Jimmer is not a good defender at all and the coach knows it and has to hide him in the defense scheme. Still, it is hard to tell because he plays a lot of minutes like Johnny Dawkins did for Duke back in the 80's. 

As a point guard, perhaps the ceiling for Fredette is Mark Price or Dell Curry. If he can have a career similar to Mark Price, then whoever drafts him will be pleased with the selection. 

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