NBA Draft 2011: The Great Debate, Will Jimmer Fredette Be a Bust or a Star?

Joseph Fafinski@Joseph FafinskiCorrespondent IApril 7, 2011

NBA Draft 2011: The Great Debate, Will Jimmer Fredette Be a Bust or a Star?

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    Jimmer Fredette will undoubtedly become one of the NBA's hottest commodities come draft time.

    For now, we are all left wondering what could be in the future of the BYU Cougar.

    Much debate has been made of how Jimmer will play at the professional level, and within the confines of the following slides, NBA Featured Columnists Joseph Fafinski and Allen Kim will break down their thoughts on whether or not he will ultimately achieve success in the NBA, and whether he will achieve stardom in the league.

    As part of the NBA's Debate Series, we are excited to have put forth the effort for our readers.

    We welcome your feedback and comments. Feel free to let us know your opinion.

Shooting Ability (Joseph)

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    Jimmer Fredette’s shot is clearly the best asset in his game.

    He should have no problem adjusting to the differing three-point line of the NBA because he has the uncanny ability to hit shots from just about every single piece of tile on the hardwood.

    Fredette's 45.2 percent on field goals is a testimony to his crazy abilities, especially when you considering four out of every 10 shots he tosses up are from beyond the arc.

    His jumper is something that he will pridefully hone as his NBA career progresses.

    Let's remember too that Stephen Curry, a very similar player to Jimmer in college (mid-major, HUGE stats), had many doubters that said he wouldn't perform well in the professional ranks, and look how Curry's tenure with the Warriors has turned out so far.

    He is already a top 10 point guard after just under two full seasons. Fredette is basically in the same position Curry was in two summers ago, and both have the shooting ability to play with the best.

Shooting Ability (Allen)

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    There's no question that Jimmer Fredette can shoot. It's the defining aspect of his game and something that will carry him throughout his career.

    He has improved his three-point field goal percentage every season from his freshman year to his junior campaign, lifting it from 33.6 percent to 44.0 percent.

    However, he saw a sharp decline from his junior season to this season, dropping down to 39.6 percent.

    Fredette can clearly dial it up from long-range and, as Joseph said, he should have little trouble adjusting to the longer three-point line in the NBA.

    Even so, his three-point field goal percentage will likely fall from his averages at BYU due to the deeper range. While I don't expect a significant drop off, it could be enough that he'll have difficulty distinguishing himself from the other shooters in the league.

    More than anything else, Fredette will have quicker, longer and more aggressive defenders bodying him up in the NBA. If he expects to get shots up over them with the same impunity that had been afforded to him at the college level, he’s in for a rude awakening.

    It will be interesting to see how he transitions from being "the man" at BYU, to a reserve coming in the game for spurts. Without those consistent minutes, can he immediately get into rhythm?

Penetration (Joseph)

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    When it comes to quick and accurate penetration to the lane looking for a layup, Jimmer is no slouch. 

    He has the ability to take it to the hole and create circus shots, most of which he drains.

    One thing he might need to do in order to become an NBA star is bulk up so he could become a formidable penetrator. I'm not necessarily saying that his current build isn't enough; it just might not be enough to develop as a guard with great post scoring abilities.

    Sure, he's going to have a difficult time driving to the lane against seven footers at the professional level, but don't most guards have at least a little trouble with that?

Penetration (Allen)

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    Jimmer Fredette has a solid first step and better-than-average quickness, but let's be honest, he's on the low end of the spectrum when it comes to overall athleticism.

    Its one thing to blow by weaker competition at the collegiate level, and another to do so with the pros.

    Fredette isn't very explosive, which will hamper his ability to finish at the rim.

    He's creative enough around the bucket with, as Joseph says, circus shots, but he can't consistently rely on those types of attempts to go in when he has to challenge 6'11", 270-lbs. behemoths on a nightly basis.

    Fredette is tough enough to split defenders and overpower them in college, but the pros are stronger and far more physical.

Ball-Handling (Joseph)

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    Jimmer is a solid ball-handler for the most part, as we have seen his ability to hold the ball when on the drive.

    One thing he can always improve upon is limiting his turnover rate. He gave the ball away 3.5 times per game this past season, partially because his role increased and partially because he held the ball about 90 percent of the time the Cougars had the ball (didn't seem like that?) this season.

    Regardless, if he wants to blossom into the star I know he can be, he needs to handle the ball more carefully. But in all honesty, he won't be asked to have as big a role in the NBA as he had with BYU, so we don't really need to worry about that.

    Besides, guys like Derrick Rose put up similar stats at a smaller school, and now he's the best point guard in the NBA. Jimmer can follow Rose's improvement there to become an NBA star.

Ball-Handling (Allen)

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    As Joseph said, Jimmer Fredette is a solid ball-handler, but has trouble with turnovers. He won’t be pulling off any flashy, And 1-like moves, but he’s proficient and gets the job done.

    Joseph compares Fredette to Derrick Rose in that area and suggests he follow a similar path of development, but that type of comparison may be a bit of a stretch.

    John Calipari employs a dribble-drive motion offensive attack—a system Rose was adept enough to excel in, and a system that Fredette—at least right now—would arguably have trouble emulating to the same degree of effectiveness.

    Rose’s ball-handling abilities were more advanced in college than Fredette’s and they are on another plateau right now.

    Regardless, ball-handling is the least of Fredette’s worries since it’s an aspect of his game that he’s already solid in, and it can easily be improved through practice and drills.

Passing (Joseph)

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    Fredette's passing is pretty much on par with other top guards going into the draft.

    He has averaged better than four assists in each of his final three collegiate seasons, and this season was no different as he put up a 4.3 clip.

    All in all, his passing shouldn't make or break his draft stock, and in turn, it won't make or break his likelihood of stardom in the NBA.

    You can't be judged in college on your assist numbers because there aren't as many good finishers at the collegiate level as there are in the NBA.

    Jimmer's passing is fine, and it could become a benefactor in his long road to NBA stardom.

Passing (Allen)

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    Jimmer Fredette still needs time before he develops the sort of intrinsic passing abilities required by true NBA-caliber point guards.

    Since entering BYU, Fredette's passing abilities have improved, but not to the point where he can be trusted to run a NBA-level offense full-time. Guards who have averaged the same amount of assists as Fredette did with BYU are a dime a dozen.

    Fredette's 4.3 assists per game are underwhelming to say the least, and his 1.22 assist-to-turnover ratio should be a red flag for scouts and GMs alike.

    As Joseph said, you can't exactly judge Fredette based on his assist numbers—especially at the collegiate level—but from watching him play, it's obvious that he's nothing more than an average passer.

    In fact, the argument can be had that he is actually a below-average passer and that he gets his moderate assist numbers because he draws so much attention away from his teammates, leading to easy dimes—a luxury that will not be afforded to him in the NBA.

    Of course, Fredette could get drafted into a system or team that doesn't require him to constantly handle the ball, but we can only speculate on which team will draft him.

    GMs will have to carefully weigh their options should they have the choice of drafting Fredette. The big question will be whether or not he is the right fit for their system.

Defensive Ability (Joseph)

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    Fredette has taken heat for his defensive struggles this year, but that's not to say they'll always be as horrendous as 2011 has displayed him to be.

    To prove to you that one can strengthen their defensive skills once they enter the NBA, I present to you Mr. Kevin Durant.

    Durant, like Jimmer, was a poor defender coming out of Texas in the 2007 NBA Draft. However, in his fourth season in the league, Durant's lockdown and post defense has improved tremendously.

    He has proved it is altogether possible to completely turn around the defensive portion of his game, and now he is widely considered a top five player in the league.

    If Fredette can take a similar route, his lack of defense will be a problem no more.

    However, so many times during the season, Jimmer seemed to cherrypick just so he could end up the scorer on the following offensive possession.

    NBA head coaches will not tolerate this, and in turn, Jimmer's mindset as a leader will depend on whether he decides to play more adequate defense than he did at BYU.

Defensive Ability (Allen)

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    Jimmer Fredette is, at best, an average defender. This will be the biggest area of concern heading into the draft.

    Watching him play, he appears to put little emphasis on defense. It seems that staying out of foul trouble and conserving energy for the offensive end is more of a concern to him. If that trend continues to the next level, he’ll find himself on the bench far more often than on the hardwood.

    His poor lateral quickness and heavy feet will become a serious issue when he has to defend lightning-quick guards like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook.

    Granted, not many players can defend players of that caliber one-on-one, but there's only so much he can improve on defense when he's unable to stay in front of his man.

    I can see him relying too much on his hands instead of his feet to play defense, which will become a serious quandary in the NBA.

    Joseph brings up the point that players are able to improve defensively, which is true, but physical limitations and a general lackadaisical attitude towards defense can hamper that development.

Size (Joseph)

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    I have no doubt in my mind that Jimmer Fredette has NBA size right now.

    His 6'2'', 195-pound frame emulates that of point guards like Deron Williams, Stephen Curry and Derrick Rose when they came up to the professional rank.

    While he might be full-grown height wise, this in no way means he can't continue to grow upon his stocky build.

    His game relates better to that of a shooting guard, but ultimately, he isn't big enough to fulfill those requirements, so he has to play the point.

Size (Allen)

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    Jimmer Fredette has solid size for a point guard, which should translate well to the NBA if he were to play the lead guard position.

    However, I have trouble believing he can be a full-fledged point guard, which may relegate him to playing shooting guard.

    With his shooting ability, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least bit to see him playing the two-guard position. In fact, it probably makes more sense, but that puts him at a significant size disadvantage.

    His ability to develop as a playmaker will ultimately determine the level of success he can enjoy in the NBA.

Leadership (Joseph)

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    Jimmer Fredette was the unquestioned leader for the past two seasons of the BYU Cougars.

    He was the senior captain this year, and he led the regular season champs of the Mountain West to an astounding record of 30 wins and four losses.

    He also led the university with an incredible 28.9 points and a solid 4.3 assists per game in the process. He was clutch in the postseason and will do whatever it takes to put the team on his back.

    If that isn't leadership that will get you prepared for the bigs, then I'm not sure what is.

Leadership (Allen)

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    Point guards are an extension of the coach, and they are generally considered to be a team’s floor general, so leadership is a key quality.

    Jimmer Fredette carries himself very well and demonstrates incredible poise, so that bodes well—at least partially—for his pro prospects.

    Joseph was correct in proclaiming Fredette as the unquestioned leader for the BYU Cougars, but he won’t enjoy the same type of freedom and vocal authority in the NBA.

    Also, if he’s relied on as a pure scorer, leadership will become a non-essential quality for him as he won't be asserting or integrating himself deep into a team's offense.

Competitiveness (Joseph)

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    Jimmer Fredette wanted to win at Brigham Young. He would've been drafted last year had he come out for the draft as a junior, but instead he led the Cougars this season to their first Sweet 16 appearance in 30 years.

    You could always tell by the look on Jimmer's face that he was upset whenever opponents scored, whether it be Noah Dahlman of Wofford in the first round of the tourney or Erving Walker of Florida in the Sweet 16.

    "Jimmer-mania" has partially come together due to his competitiveness, and I see no reason to think that will be a disadvantage on his road to becoming a star in the NBA.

Competitiveness (Allen)

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    Jimmer Fredette is competitive, no doubt, which is required at any level of any sport. He’s not one to back down from a fight, and he will shoot his team to a victory when required.

    Fredette consistently puts forth his best effort, but only on the offensive end.

    The same cannot be said about his defense.

    No one is mistaking him for some sort of defensive stopper, but if he can’t at least commit to playing stronger defense, the depth of his competitive nature comes into question.

Closing Thoughts (Joseph)

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    With all apologies to Kemba Walker and Kenneth Faried, Jimmer Fredette was college basketball's best player this season, and if he takes his talents to somewhere in the pros where his game can flourish, he will be a star.

    As Allen will state, a team like the New York Knicks or the Denver Nuggets would be a great place for Jimmer to showcase his stuff in the NBA for the first time.

    All in all, he's got a great set of skills, and I believe he has it in him to be a superstar in basketball's most popular league.

    If he is selected towards the end of the lottery, as he is currently slated, Fredette will help clubs in need of a solid player, and in turn, he would help turn these lousy teams into perennial contenders, and in all honesty, he has what it takes.

    Of course he won't have the stats next season that he had in this year's campaign, but that doesn't mean that he won't have a chance to duplicate his collegiate success sometime in the future.

    Jimmer Fredette has many qualities that will lead him to stardom in the future, and among those are his identity as a sharpshooter, his will to win and his will to learn.

    His defense may be lacking, sure, but where does it say in the rules that you can't improve in the NBA? Isn't that what it's all about up there?

    Some NBA general manager will take a chance on Jimmer this June, and regardless of who it is, scrutiny will ensue, but ultimately Jimmer will be the last one laughing when he is a premier baller at the professional rank.

Closing Thoughts (Allen)

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    I am by no means a Jimmer hater. I loved watching him play for BYU and I admire his game, but when it comes to his pro prospects, I'm opting to take a more level-headed and constructive approach instead of being consumed by the hype.

    There is little doubt in my mind that he can play in the NBA. Strong shooters are always welcome in the league, and he certainly fits the bill.

    However, don't expect him to even remotely approach the numbers he produced at BYU.

    I can see him coming off the bench as an instant-offense type of player, but I'm not convinced he'll take the league by storm like he has done at BYU these last two seasons.

    If he lands on a team like the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets or Phoenix Suns, he has a much better chance to put up quality—if inflated—numbers in an uptempo system.

    Put him on a team like the Boston Celtics, and he’ll find himself keeping the pine warm for the starters.

    Don't buy too much into "Jimmer-mania" now that the NCAA tournament has come to a close. You would be better off tempering your expectations for him at the pro level.

About the Authors

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    Joseph Fafinski: 

    Joseph is a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Missouri. He is hoping to be a sports journalist after graduating. 

    He enjoys the Bleacher Report platform, and is excited that his work gets so much exposure on the site.

    His favorite basketball team is the Minnesota Timberwolves, for whom he is a featured columnist on B/R. He also is featured in the NBA section.

    Joseph's proudest sports-writing moment came when the Minnesota Post mentioned one of his articles on the front page.


    Allen Kim:

    Allen serves as the NBA Deputy Editor for Bleacher Report. Since coming on board, he has witnessed incredible growth in the company and writers, and is privileged to be a part of B/R. 

    Born and raised in New York, he naturally grew attached to the Patrick Ewing-era New York Knicks. However, despite a decade of futility under "he who shall not be named", he's looking forward to a new chapter in Knickerbocker history.