But What About The Jimmer?

SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 29: Jimmer Fredette #7 of the Sacramento Kings has a shot blocked by Taj Gibson #22 of the Chicago Bulls at Power Balance Pavilion on December 29, 2011 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

With yesterday's acquisition of Aaron Brooks, the Kings find themselves with a glut of backcourt players who clearly deserve minutes. Isaiah Thomas deserves minutes. That goes without saying after last season. Aaron Brooks deserves minutes. He'll be the primary backup at the point position, and might even try to challenge for some starter's minutes. Tyreke Evans obviously will get minutes. Marcus Thornton will definitely get minutes, either as the starting shooting guard or the first guy off the bench.

The Kings also have John Salmons and Francisco Garcia. Like Tyreke Evans, both Salmons and Garcia have spent time at Small Forward, but are honestly more suited as guards. However, neither Salmons nor Garcia necessarily demand minutes at this point. Garcia will probably see very limited minutes, and Salmons will probably see fewer minutes than last season but will still be at the small forward spot.

Already, those are a lot of minutes. So what about Jimmer Fredette?

There is nothing about Jimmer's rookie season that commands he receive playing time this season. The only reason he might "command" minutes is that the Kings organization spent last year's 10th overall pick to draft him. But does this mean the Kings have given up on Jimmer? Does this mean they should give up on Jimmer? I argue no, to both questions.

The first question is more speculative, but I don't believe the Kings are giving up on Jimmer. Regardless of last night's 30 point outburst in Summer League, I don't think the organization is planning to trade him. I simply view the acquisition of Brooks as a decision to try to win in the short term, without relying on Jimmer to be the primary backup point guard. It means the team can develop Jimmer a little slower, without needing to overwhelm him by asking him to do more than he's ready for. It also means the Kings can use Jimmer off the ball more often, and less as the primary ball handler.

As to whether or not the organization should be patient, well that's a more complicated question.

Obviously, nobody knows what Jimmer's future truly holds. Jimmer has those who believe in him without fail. Jimmer has those who are ready to write him off as a bust. It's too early to know. And that's the point. Jimmer has played in one lockout-shortened season with no Summer League and no training camp, and has now added two Summer League games to that resume. He is still in the first steps of his career.

I don't know if Jimmer can ever become the player that the Kings need him to be. All I know is that the path for Jimmer is visible. Take a look at the following numbers (Via Basketball Reference):

Per Game

Player

G

GS

MP

FG

FGA

FG%

3P

3PA

3P%

FT%

TRB

AST

STL

TOV

PTS

Fredette

61

7

18.6

2.8

7.3

0.386

1.3

3.5

0.361

0.833

1.2

1.8

0.5

1.1

7.6

Terry

81

27

23.3

3.1

7.4

0.415

0.6

1.9

0.293

0.807

2

4.3

1.1

1.9

8.1

Per 36 minutes

Player

G

GS

MP

FG

FGA

FG%

3P

3PA

3P%

FT%

TRB

AST

STL

TOV

PTS

Fredette

61

7

1135

5.5

14.1

0.386

2.5

6.9

0.361

0.833

2.3

3.4

1

2.1

15

Terry

81

27

1888

4.7

11.4

0.415

0.9

3

0.293

0.807

3.2

6.6

1.7

3

13

That's a direct comparison of the rookie seasons for Jason Terry and Jimmer Fredette. Both players were 22 years old in their rookie season. On both a per game and per minute comparison, the players are strikingly similar. You watch Terry's game, and you can easily see Jimmer following that path. Maybe he never becomes a starter, but as a scoring sixth man? That hardly seems unreasonable.

But what about defense? We all know Jimmer struggles on defense, right? Well, he's the same height as Terry, but actually carries about 20 extra pounds (based on each player's listed weight). Jimmer's not as quick, but his added bulk will prevent him from being pushed around. Oh, and Jimmer was better than Jason Terry at isolation defense last season. Not Jason Terry's iso defense as a rookie. Jason Terry's iso defense last season.

A quick note on sample size. We are obviously looking at a single season of data. Jimmer had 363 defensive possessions cataloged by Synergy Sports. Terry had 621. I acknowledge this up front, and all stats should be taken with a grain of salt. That being said, the numbers I'm about to present to you were surprising to me, particularly considering Jimmer was in his rookie season.

Overall, Jason Terry allowed 0.82 points per possession (PPP) last season. This was better than Jimmer's 0.89. Overall, Terry is a better defender. I am not arguing that Jimmer is better overall.

In isolation defense situations last season, Jimmer Fredette was the 75th ranked defender in the NBA. He allowed 0.69 PPP. Terry allowed 0.74, ranked 115th in the NBA. Jimmer still seems to struggle at guarding the pick and roll, allowing 0.9 PPP (ranked 183) compared to Terry's 0.83 PPP (ranked 142). So, as a rookie, Jimmer Fredette was a very solid isolation defender, and struggled a bit more than Jason Terry on the pick and roll. But this still shows us that Jimmer probably has quite a bit more defensive ability and potential than we otherwise may have expected. At the very least, we can see that Jimmer's defense can easily reach the point where it will not keep him off the court.

Jimmer struggled mightily last season. He often looked lost on the court. He lacked confidence in both his dribble and, more alarmingly, his shot. But the path to success is there. Jimmer has the tools to become a Jason Terry type player. Acquiring Aaron Brooks does not signal the end of Jimmer Fredette as a King. We can view it as the organization taking the long road, to avoid the mistakes of the past. It's about working to prevent Jimmer from becoming the next Douby or the next Donté, players asked to perform new skills with little preparation or support.

It's about demonstrating patience.

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