It does not take a rocket scientist to see that BYU's Jimmer Fredette is not only the most seasoned player on this year's draft board, but is the most undervalued. The super senior, a rich blend between both Steve Nash and Steph Curry, will be the draft's "super sale" blowout merchandise, and will make the day for a team picking in the mid-teens to early 20s.
He is the lottery-ticket-found-on-a-street-corner kind of guy who will win rookie of the year in 2012, and will without question be the best player from this year's draft in years down the line.
Prudence will be key come draft night. It is an unpopular item in the aisle of life-virtues, one that takes a triad of guile, poise and the ability to draft with vision. A league that is near-sighted and sometimes confused, caught up more with ticket sales it seems than with win and losses, overlooks the less cool, less flashy player like Fredette.
Though the guy won the Player of the Year award in college, he is in a long line of consistent college veterans who get overlooked for the sake of "potential;" a brittle ideology that has led to selections like Mike Olowokandi, who at first overall in 1998 was drafted above Dirk Nowitizki, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce and Antawn Jamison.
This slip of great talent that is common in NBA drafts can lead to macro league shifts and stock an emerging (think L.A. Clippers or Memphis Grizzlies) with a talent able to move them from playoff potential to playoff success.
Considering the fascination with raw talents in this year’s draft—Brandon Knight, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, Enes Kanter, Marshon Brooks, Jonas Valanciunus and Tristan Thompson—it is fair to assume tweener guards like Fredette and UConn's Kemba Walker could slip into the mid-teens to early 20s for no apparent reason.
Despite such speculation, the one-and-done rule instituted in 2007 by the NCAA has at best given league critics and fans enough of a perspective by which to judge emerging talent.
For instance, Brandon Knight, though just a one year player at Kentucky, proved his potential is a worthy grab, hitting countless big shots in the March Tournament. Yet opposite to Knight is this year's projected No. 1 selection Kyrie Irving, who has shown no such potential after sitting out most of his frosh season beleaguered with injuries.
To pick a player based upon an 11-game career is like choosing an off-brand Coke being sold by a door to door salesman over the staple Coca Cola. If you hit big, you hit REAL big (think LeBron James in 2003) and laugh yourself to title town with a huge Las Vegas-sized grin. Yet more often than not, the Olowokandis haunt this form of risky thinking, leaving the drafter looking at a Sam Bowie instead of His Airness.
Fredette proved in college he is strong enough at 6'2:, 195 lbs to put a team on his back night in night out with no serious injuries. His dribble speed game was enough to get him into the paint and finish, leaving his defenders dazed and confused on what tactic to take when stopping the dangerous outside-inside threat.
Quiet, humble and team-oriented, Fredette, who flamed opponents for 28.9 points per game last season while shooting 39.6 percent from the three-point line, is a sure sign pick come draft night. He, Chris Singleton from FSU and Kemba Walker are on a short list of proven vets in this year's draft class.
So the question is, where will the Jimmer land?
Last rumored, the New York Knicks have stoked the flame for the guard at pick No. 17. Stocked with a dynamic scoring tandem—Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire—and a deep guard-heavy bench—Toney Douglas and Bill Walker—it'd seem the pick is unwarranted in New York.
Add in the proven veteran in Chauncey "Big Shot" Billups, and the emergent athlete in second year player Laundry Fields, and there aren't a whole lot of shots to hand over to a scorer like Fredette.
But Fredette, who averaged 4.3 assist per game last season and has asked to play point guard in the NBA, seems ready to trade over his offensive role for that of a playmaker—hence the comparisons to two players like Nash and Curry.
Considering the age of Billups at 35 and the inconsistency of the streaky Toney Douglas, it would seem Fredette would fit nicely in New York. A split-lead role at point guard his rookie season with a guy like Billups would both show Fredette "the ropes" and give him the comfort level to acclimate to the stylistic one on one game of the NBA.
If Fredette free falls to No. 17, fans and critics will be kicking themselves for not seeing this sooner after watching the talent on full display the last four years in the BYU Cougar white and blue.
Fredette is like a strong and stable Ford F-150, at first paling in comparison to the fire truck red Ford Mustang (that being Irving). But years down the line, you can bet that faithful truck will be hauling that dead weight of flashy rims and a hollow body to the town dump.