NBA Draft Rumors: Is Jimmer Fredette to Utah Jazz a Legitimate Possibility?
Sometimes, players just seem destined to play for certain teams.
Cal Ripken, Jr., a Maryland native, played and became the iconic figure for the Baltimore Orioles over his 20-year MLB career. Derek Jeter, who vowed he would grow up to become the New York Yankees starting shortstop, fulfilled his promise after he was drafted out of high school by the Bronx Bombers in 1992.
Okay, scratch that last one.
With the 2011 NBA Draft soon upon us, we have another potential pick of destiny to watch unfold (no, not that Pick of Destiny). Jimmer Fredette, the Brigham Young University star who has garnered the attention of at least a couple of people throughout his college career, will in all likelihood be taken in the first half of the first round.
But will the Utah Jazz make all of their hometown fans' dreams (not to mention those of the Jazz marketing team) come true? Playing at BYU left Fredette somewhat of a polarizing star around the country, but a hero in Utah. This would only fuel the growth of legend. Surely the Jazz will oblige, right?
Well, let's take a look at some of the most important factors.
He Could Become the Face of a Currently Faceless Franchise
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Let's face it—the Utah Jazz have suffered some major PR hits within only the last year.
First, forward Carlos Boozer left the team via a sign-and-trade with the Chicago Bulls after he hit the free agent pool last summer. Next, iconic head coach Jerry Sloan retired mid-season from his long-standing position, reportedly after a rift with star point guard Deron Williams.
The Jazz could use a breath of fresh air, particularly one that is likely to bring instant satisfaction to its home fanbase. Fredette won't make people forget about Sloan or Williams, but his connection to Utah is enough to give Jazz fans someone else on whom they can focus.
An Offensive Boost
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If we know one thing about Jimmer Fredette, it's that he can shoot. Really, really well.
Tha Jazz aren't exactly bottom of the barrel offensively, but they can still use the upgrade. Utah was tied for 11th in the Western Conference with 99.4 points per game last season.
What's more, with aging Raja Bell and still-unproven Gordon Hayward filling up the shooting guard spots on the roster, Fredette isn't exactly an unneeded commodity. If he remains purely a point guard, he'll stay behind starter Devin Harris, but he could flourish in the backup role currently held by Earl Watson and Ronnie Price.
But There's That Whole Defense Thing...
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If there's another thing we know about Jimmer Fredette, it's that he can't guard opposing players much better than I can. And you'd probably be better off playing one man short than letting me guard someone.
Fredette has been much-maligned for his defensive woes, leaving many to wonder what exactly his role will be on whatever team ends up drafting him. At 6'2" he doesn't even size up to some point guards, and his poor lateral quickness leaves him vulnerable against more explosive players.
As much as Fredette is praised for his professional attitude on the court, his lackadaisical attitude on defense can be concerning. According to DraftExpress.com:
He rarely gets into an actual defensive stance, fails to get a hand up on shooters and shows little interest in trying to fight through screens. The same laid-back approach that makes him so difficult to get off-kilter offensively is a serious detriment to his work on the other end, potentially making him a liability in the NBA.
What Will the Jazz Do with the No. 3 Pick?
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As much debate as there is over Jimmer Fredette, the matter largely depends on what the Jazz do with their first pick of the draft, No. 3 overall.
With Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams expected to go first and second, respectively, there are plenty of options for the Jazz, assuming they keep the pick.
Some have speculated that point guard Brandon Knight out of the University of Kentucky could go to Utah here, which would all but stamp out any possibility of Fredette's homecoming.
But there is another strong consensus saying that the Jazz will go big with the third pick and draft Enes Kanter or Jonas Valanciunas. This would fill a more immediate need for Utah, who were 26th in the NBA last season in rebounding, and leave the door open for Fredette when the Jazz make their next selection at No. 12.
Who Else Is Vying for Jimmer's Affection?
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The Jazz are certainly not alone in their interest in Jimmer Fredette, and this has been shown in the flurry of reported potential activity that could take place among the lower half of the draft lottery.
As ESPN's Chad Ford reported today, the Charlotte Bobcats, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Golden State Warriors are all willing to move their picks (Nos. 9, 10 and 11, respectively) for those who are trying to beat out Utah (No. 12) for Fredette.
The New York Knicks, among other teams, have expressed interest in the BYU guard. Ford also shared that the Sacramento Kings may be possible suitors and, in his most recent mock draft, he had Fredette going to the Indiana Pacers with the No. 15 overall pick. (That was also assuming Utah took Brandon Knight with the No. 3 pick and subsequently passed on Fredette at No. 12.)
So, Where Does This Leave Us?
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Ultimately, everything stems from Utah's decision at No. 3. Unless some major trade occurs before this pick that sets up for another obvious Fredette landing spot, the Jazz will leave their biggest clue as to whether they are sincerely interested in the hometown hero (of sorts).
If the Jazz do not take Brandon Knight and instead select a big man, the choice is taken out of their hands literally until the No. 12 pick, for then it will be a matter for the other teams interested in Jimmer to decide how desirable he really is.
I would think, if Jimmer Fredette is still available at No. 12 and the Jazz do not take a guard at No. 3, they would end up drafting him. The idea of passing on Fredette and having him turn out to be a star is much more unfavorable than taking him and having him be a bust.
At least with the latter, the Jazz can't be chided too much for their decision, because Fredette is highly sought after by some and does have obvious offensive tools to contribute.
Plus, the franchise can ill afford more internal backlash, and letting Jimmer slip through their grasp could leave a very sour taste in Jazz fans' mouths.