Jimmer Fredette: 6 Reasons the Sacramento Kings Will Regret Drafting Him
Let me begin by saying that I actually like Jimmer Fredette. Obviously, I want him to succeed, if only so I can keep peppering the word "Jimmer" into everyday conversations.
The problem is, the more I think about it, the more it seems that he is being set up for failure.
Although they ended up picking 10th instead of seventh, the Kings got their man in the end. Jimmer is a King, and speculation about what position he will fill for the team, whether or not he was the right pick, and how he will fit in in Sacramento has already begun.
Although there is no denying Jimmer's popularity, limitless range or scoring ability, the Fredette pick could be one that haunts the Kings for years to come.
Here are six reasons why the Kings will regret drafting Jimmer...
1. Hype...So Much Hype!
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For a player with Jimmer's college resume and high level of national scrutiny, being selected in the top 10 of the NBA draft means incredibly (often unreasonably) high expectations.
For Fredette, these expectations may be unreachable.
I'm not saying that Jimmer won't be good—it's very possible that he will be—but for a high profile college prospect who will have the eyes of the national media following him, oftentimes good isn't enough.
For Fredette, anything less than a rookie of the year-type season will be considered a disappointment. It may not be fair to judge him by such high standards, but his profile is so high, and his last season at BYU was so impressive, that holding him to such lofty criteria is only natural.
Expectations and hype have destroyed NBA careers in the past, and they could do the same for Fredette.
Drafting a player like Brandon Knight (who is seen as more of a long-term project) or Kemba Walker (who isn't expected to come in and be a franchise-type scorer right off the bat) would have given the Kings more room to develop a point guard, rather than dealing with the pressure of drafting someone who is perceived as an immediate impact player.
2. The Sacramento Offense Is Now Filled with Black Holes
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Adding yet another scorer to the roster will only increase the team's Metta World Peace-sized identity crisis.
Tyreke Evans is a player who needs the ball in his hands to be effective and has notoriously been a ball-stopper in his young career.
John Salmons, Kings fans will remember, is a black hole himself, and often looks for his own offense to the detriment of the team.
Last season, Marcus Thornton broke out but only when he was given free reign over the Sacramento offense and was allowed to shoot without conscience. In fact, the ability to shoot freely is a common thread among stretches of productivity throughout his career.
Jimmer himself took almost 21 shots per game his senior season and was generally viewed as a volume scorer. In his various scouting reports, the phrase "needs the ball in his hands" comes up multiple times.
Basically, four of the Kings top five players think of themselves as scorers, aren't known for their passing and need to handle the ball to be effective. Which would be fine if Geoff Petrie were building a fantasy basketball team. Unfortunately, he isn't.
When you are relying on a player who is generally viewed as a volume scorer to be your main distributer, and are pairing him with several other volume scorers, you are probably in trouble.
3. Jimmer Isn't a True Point Guard...Yet
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Sacramento drafted Jimmer to play point guard.
And one day, he might even be a really, really good point guard.
But that day isn't going to come this season, and it might not come for the next several years.
Learning to play point guard in the NBA is no easy task, and it is totally natural for the process to take several years. But the Kings traded their starting point guard in the process of getting Jimmer, and now, the responsibility is his and his alone. In short, Fredette doesn't have several years to learn the position (especially with the expectations for him being so high).
I am worried about Fredette transitioning to the point at the NBA level because I look at players like Mike Conley and Raymond Felton. Both of these players had played more of a "true" point guard role for their entire lives and still needed a few NBA seasons to adapt and become effective at the pro level.
Jimmer doesn't have the history of point guard play that those players did, yet will be expected to learn the position much more quickly.
4. Brandon Knight Will Ultimately Be the Better Player
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There's no way the Kings could have known that Brandon Knight would be available at number seven in the draft.
He was projected to go somewhere between picks number three and six, and was generally acknowledged to be the best point guard prospect in the 2011 class.
So in this light, it makes sense that Sacramento planned on taking Jimmer. However, Sacramento's draft strategy didn't leave them with room to maneuver in the event that a superior talent fell a few spots—which it ultimately did.
Knight and Fredette will always be compared because of the Kings' draft day trade. Knight is the player they could have had, and Fredette somehow ended up playing a part in his team passing on a player who would have been a better fit.
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John Salmons was part of the trade the Kings made to get Jimmer. Now, he is once again a part of the franchise whether you like it or not.
My distaste for Salmons is well documented, but that isn't really the issue here.
The real issue with this deal is that it really muddles what was an already murky small forward picture in Sacramento.
Francisco Garcia has had his chances to crack the starting rotation and probably shouldn't get any more opportunities.
But even discounting the Latin Assassin, the Kings now have three total question marks at the position (Casspi, Greene and Honeycutt), and none of them will get a chance to prove their mettle with Salmons in town.
Casspi and Greene have performed inconsistently, but both have shown flashes of being above-average players, and Honeycutt is a total unknown. However, all three will be relegated to the bench (again) so that John Salmons can put his head down and drive to the basket time after time.
With the Jimmer/Salmons trade, the Kings sought to solidify two of their weakest positions and ended up really doing neither. They cannot be sure if Jimmer is even a true point guard, let alone a long-term answer at the position, and Salmons only adds more mediocrity to an incredibly mediocre group of swingmen.
6. He Won't Draw Fans Like the Maloofs Think He Will
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What? A miscalculation by the Maloof family?!? Impossible!!
Seriously though, part of the ownership's fascination with Jimmer seems to be his built-in fanbase, which follows him with religious fervor, or at least, the intensity of teen idol groupies.
Call him the basketball Bieber.
And that was all well and good when he was breaking scoring records at BYU and singlehandedly carrying his team through the NCAA tournament.
But let's be realistic—wins will be hard to come by for the Kings in 2012. Even the most optimistic projections leave the Kings well out of the playoffs.
It's easy to follow a dead-eye shooter on a nationally competitive college team. It's considerably harder to support that same player when he's playing out of position on one of the NBA's worst rosters.
Sure, he'll draw fans early in the year. Heck, I know I'll go see him play. But if he struggles—which he most assuredly will at some point—you can expect attendance to drop with him.
Just ask Adam Morrison how much drawing power a struggling former college superstar has on a bad team in the NBA. If you can find him.
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Looking back through this slideshow, I realize that it seems like I'm anti-Jimmer when I'm really not.
The reason I don't have high hopes for success for Fredette in Sacramento isn't because I think he doesn't have the skill or ability to succeed at the next level (I do), it's because he has been set up for failure by the Kings.
He's coming into a bad team that doesn't have a true identity or offensive system in place. He's being asked to alter his game playing alongside some of the biggest ball-stoppers in the NBA. He was taken over a much more well-regarded prospect and is being asked to deal with considerable hype amidst a level of national attention that would be more fitting to a No. 1 overall pick.
Skill is obviously an important indicator of professional success in any sport. But situation and circumstance are equally important. Aaron Rodgers was allowed to grow into his role as a franchise quarterback and has been successful because of it. If he were thrust into a starting job for which he was unprepared, on a bad team as a rookie, the odds of him becoming successful would have dropped dramatically.
Rodgers is one example of the role that circumstance can play in pro success, but there are hundreds of others.
I hope I'm wrong, but it seems like Jimmer isn't a perfect fit in Sacramento. Hopefully, he can overcome the obstacles in his way and reach his potential.