I’ll be the first to admit I am one of likely many bandwagon Kings fans now that BYU’s star player has been drafted to the franchise. I’ve also watched him for the last several years while attending the Y and can answer a lot of questions some may have. I hope I can be of some help.
First off, I have to get it out right now that Jimmer is a point guard. I do not see much possibility of him being limited to only playing from the 2 at SG. He has said before that he has very little experience at that position and sees himself as a 1. The Kings had to know that when they drafted him. It could be quite detrimental to relegate him to a role as only a wing, since it would not only cause frustration in Fredette that he was drafted so high just to hold a position he doesn’t play, but also because I don’t see it playing to his strengths. Jimmer is not great at the catch-and-shoot game. It would be another learning process to shoot as well in that way as he does off the dribble. I see people believing he could slide right in playing that role, and that’s just not completely true, since he would not be the same player. Jimmer is best when he can create shots for himself and others.
Point Guard Ability
This likely has some people worried, since common opinion has it that Jimmer is not a great passer, and is only strong when shooting. From a fairly large sample size of games, I can say this is false. Jimmer is a good to great passer and BYU was much more deadly when those receiving the passes would make the shots. It just wasn’t terribly often that the shots consistently fell, likely caused by the line of streaky shooters outside for the Cougars, and only one real legitimate big man for most of the season in Brandon Davies. However, consider the situations when the passes turned into points and the shooters were on, namely in the games at UNLV and San Diego State in the regular season, as well as against Gonzaga in the tournament. These games were not very close at the end because of Jimmer’s teammates converting the passes into points, and resulted in the number of assists critics would like to see, with Fredette actually playing better than usual without the need to take more shots to counteract cold team shooting. I believe this is more like the Jimmer you’ll see in the NBA. With teammates such as Evans, Salmons, and Cousins, the assists will more than likely come, and you’ll see numbers which look more like a true point guard. See the highlights from the game at SDSU here: http://youtu.be/ZWjwlSGIch0
Another criticism often heard is about Jimmer being only effective as a 3-point shooter, that he should not play the point because the talent isn’t there to get into the lane and score from the inside. This is another false notion. To address this, I’ll call to mind the tournament game against Florida in the Sweet 16 of this past year. This may have been one of the worst outside shooting games of Fredette’s career. The distant shots mostly weren’t falling. However, after Jimmer finally started going inside and finishing shots near the rim, he became nearly unstoppable for a stretch of the game. Once again, the outside shots wouldn’t go, Jimmer was being double teamed by some athletic guys on the Gators’ side, and still found a way to score at or near the basket and keep the team in the game to force overtime. This also may be due to the fact that Jimmer is great at drawing the foul and converting the free throws at around a 90% clip. Without the constant double-and-triple teams of college, he will most likely be able to find ways to score from inside even against bigger and more athletic players. Here’s some highlights of Jimmer against Florida: http://youtu.be/08JPNxvrMt4
It’s been well documented that Jimmer is an able point guard. However, some take to criticize his defense and say that may hold him back from leading the team. But, to be realistic, Fredette’s defensive potential is difficult to gauge. For one thing, BYU could NOT afford to have him foul out last season. Playing more aggressively on defense would likely lead to more fouls and create trouble for a team which was built around a single playmaker. I remember this nearly happening once, against UCLA, and the Cougars proceeded to lose after Jimmer sat for a crucial stretch near the end to avoid fouling out. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered, but it may well could have, and it may also be that he was told to play very little defense to avoid this occurrence on a team centered on him. He has a very good work ethic and, when told to, I have little doubt that Jimmer will learn to play adequate defense. Just give this point some time before criticizing it too much, as defense really is an unknown factor for Jimmer and, to justify the criticism, there needs to be a little more evidence showing he can’t do it when called upon.
Here’s something I heard from the user BW84 of cougarboard.com which brings up a good point:
“About his defense…
Jay Bilas and others like to just say he refused to play defense. I just think they didn't appreciate how he did play defense. Jimmer had 49 steals, second on the team to Emery's 101 steals, but remember, Emery specialized in steals. It's not like Jimmer never got steals. He also averaged 3.4 rebounds, not terrible for a point guard. So he DID play defense. Just not the way most people thing. He wasn't a stand in your face defender. He picked passing lanes, and did other crafty things for steals. But they don't give him enough credit... that he absolutely avoided foul trouble because of the offensive burden he was carrying. So he played defense, wasn't just standing around... but he did it in a way that wouldn't jeopardize him being on the court. He had help, that is true, and other players were the lock-down defenders.
But on an NBA team he won't be asked to never foul like he did this year. If he's only playing 20 minutes a game for a little while, then he'll bust his tail to defend. He'll do whatever the coaches want him to do. That's how Jimmer is.
Didn't we hear that he played good defense against Kemba when they went head-to-head? It's not like he's not capable of defending other ways. Him staying on the court was a strategy, not a liability.
So I expect to see him defend a little different style, but to show that he can do it. He knows it is a knock on him right now, and seems to be determined to prove to people that he can do it. So I'm expecting to see him do it more than Jay Bilas thinks.”
Of the positives about Jimmer, this one has been well addressed, and I’ll state it again since it’s impossible to overvalue: the kid will be a class act for the organization. It’s tough not to like the guy with his humble attitude accompanied by a fierce determination and will to win. Fredette is a competitor without an ego. That’s difficult to come by in sports today. He could have a monster game and still come out at the press conference to praise how well his teammates did to help him have that success. It’s a player who won’t quit trying to get better and will likely continue to improve with time and practice. After his Junior season, I wasn’t sure how he could get better after all he did, and then Jimmer goes and has an even bigger year to finish up college. The low ceiling you hear about is all talk. As for handling high expectations, it’s nothing new for Jimmer, as he went back to play a sold out game in his home town and still scored 26 points with all the pressure in the world to play well for the fans. Then, in what was billed as the biggest game in Mountain West Conference history as they took on SDSU at home, Jimmer crushed expectations by scoring over 40 points and nearly single-handedly defeating the Aztecs. The character of Jimmer Fredette will give the drive necessary for success at the next level.
This is a lot of the knowledge I have about Sacramento’s new player. Feel free to discuss and question. I, however, am convinced the Kings will benefit from what they have gained.
Just for fun, and to maybe build some excitement, here’s a video of Jimmer’s best scoring game ever: http://youtu.be/CHhdGdUGkTc
Thanks for reading.