NBA Draft 2011: Steve Nash and Other NBA Comparisons for Jimmer Fredette
After a spectacular collegiate career, Jimmer Fredette of BYU is likely to get just as much media attention as any prospect in this year's NBA Draft.
The team that ultimately selects him will receive two polar opposite reactions: skepticism from draft analysts and praise from Jimmer's considerable legion of fans.
For his hardcore fans, there is no question that Fredette will continue to terrorize NBA defenses as he did as the main scoring option for BYU.
However, all the teams that are interested in his skill set have been asking, "Can Jimmer's success translate to the pro level?"
No one will be able to tell for sure how well Fredette will perform until he finally steps foot on an NBA court. Until then, the following is a short list of possible comparisons with active NBA players, and then a prediction of how his career could pan out.
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Like Steve, Jimmer isn't known for his defense. Both players are relatively weak defenders by NBA standards, but Nash is still a two-time MVP, and Fredette's defensive shortcomings have been blown out of proportion.
The characteristic that Fredette possesses that reminds me so much of Nash is his ability to pull up suddenly at any time and hit contested, off-balance jumpers.
Neither player depends on eye-popping athleticism to create space and get a shot off. Instead, the idea is more about catching the opponent off balance then rising quickly to take an accurate jumper. Fredette and Nash both have this ability to do this in the mid-range game as well as beyond the three-point line.
He won't ever be a ball distributor on the level that Steve Nash is, but he's probably not suited for that role anyways. His aggressive scoring mentality points to the fact that he should be an undersized shooting guard rather than an uncomfortable point guard.
Like Nash, Jimmer is tricky with his dribble. He is a good ball handler but not overly flashy. It's the same story with Nash. He gets the job done with his dribbling, aiming to get defenders off balance instead of just trying to wow the crowd.
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Like JET, Fredette isn't especially adept at taking the ball to the rack. However, Terry has found a way over the years to hit consistently with a running floater. This is a skill that Jimmer will need to develop so that opponents will respect his ability to drive the lane.
As far as mid-range shooting goes, Terry is one of the best. He showed in the Finals time and time again that when given the option to drive, he'll often choose instead to simply shoot a short jumper over the defender, and it works for him. Jimmer has that similar ability to rise up in traffic and bury mid-range jumpers.
Terry is a big-game type of player, as he showed with his heroic 27-point-effort in Game 6. Jimmer is good in pressure situations too.
Some might say that his horrific shooting performance in his last collegiate game was a sign that he won't be clutch, but keep in mind that at that point in the tournament he was probably just worn out from carrying his team as offensive option 1A and 1B.
He won't have to be "the guy" in the pros, just like Terry never was.
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Here's a description of Jimmer Fredette: An undersized two-guard who shoots the long ball really well, is deceptively quick and very solidly built. Best suited to be an offensive sparkplug off the bench.
Sound like anyone?
Perhaps a really close comparison for Jimmer is Ben Gordon, formerly of the Chicago Bulls and now a member of the Detroit Pistons. Although the distastrous logjam of guards in Detroit has limited Gordon's minutes and production, he can still be lethal as an offensively-minded sixth man with seemingly endless range.
Like Gordon, Fredette is actually surprisingly strong for a guard, registering a decent 14 reps at the bench press in the NBA Draft Combine. Compare this Gordon's 12 reps back when he was drafted in 2004.
Granted, Gordon did post a slightly better vertical than Jimmer, but their size and athleticism are relatively comparable.
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J.J. Redick is an underrated player. He is a solid example of how an NBA player maximizes his potential by putting in the hard work to improve.
Redick was a prolific three-point shooter and scorer during his college days at Duke. Like Fredette, he came into the NBA already with NBA level skill, which was the ability to shoot the long ball. However, against stronger and faster defenders, Redick had to settle for being a role player instead of a 20 points per game scorer.
Instead of letting his apparent "demotion" stop him from playing hard, Redick worked at his shortcomings, namely defense. Redick is now a great perimeter defender who plays within the team concept and is still a deadly 3-point shooter.
Fredette must follow a similar path in the NBA to gain his coaches' trust and therefore more playing time. He will have to work on his defense, and accept that he won't be putting up huge scoring numbers all the time like he did at BYU.
Like Redick, he is already a great three-point shooter, and it is just a matter of whether he can accept not being a primary scorer at the next level.
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The last of my potential NBA comparisons for Jimmer Fredette is the second J.J. and also the second Mavericks shooting guard on my list.
My comparison with Barea is due to the fact that both he and Fredette make up for what they lack in height with quickness, an aggressive scoring mindset, and the ability to hit big shots.
Barea's quickness allows him to compensate for the huge height difference that he has with many NBA defenders. He uses screens very well and has a great sense of when to turn on that second gear. This is a trait that Jimmer also possesses.
J.J. Barea also does not shy away from taking big shots. Coming off a shooting slump from three-point land in the the first four games of the Finals, J.J. came out gunning anyway in Games 5 and 6. He hit big three pointers at opportune times that were critical in those wins.
Fredette is already a better three-point shooter than Barea, and also shows a similar short memory for missed shots. He is as confident a shooter as they come, and will not hesitate to take big shots for his team no matter how many he missed before.
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Due to some pretty impressive recent workouts and surprising combine numbers, Jimmer Fredette is likely to be selected somewhere in the first fourteen picks. The future success of his career hinges largely on the situation that he is drafted into.
The team that will fit Fredette best is a team that plays great defense. As the Mavericks showed us this year, a great team will find ways to play great defense that will mask the man-to-man deficiencies of individual defenders.
Fredette would succeed on a team that has a defensively-minded, pass-first point guard, as well as a big man to defend the paint. This would allow him to be a factor on offense while masking any weaknesses on defense.
With that said, Jimmer has better-than-advertised athleticism and the work ethic that should allow him to improve his defensive technique at the next level. He has the ability to come in and immediately contribute on an NBA team as the primary scorer off the bench and a lethal three point gunner.
Jimmer Fredette will probably never be a superstar, but I don't doubt that he will still be able to make a name for himself in the NBA.