I cannot think of a more polarizing presence on a Kings roster than Jimmer Fredette has been. It seems like there is no middle ground for him among Kings fans. On one end there are people that think he would be a nightmare shooter that could help us nightly with the right minutes and in the right rotation, and on the other end you have the people that do not him within 10 miles of the court. The ones who love him will give him a little leeway if he struggles, as they feel he doesn't play enough to always be on his A game. The second group will dissect any little mistake as to why he is a terrible basketball player. But which one is he? Let's take a look:
No one can deny this kids shooting ability. As the 76ers game showed, there is no doubt Jimmer can score at will when he is feeling it. That is the Jimmer I like seeing. A confident Jimmer is a valuable Jimmer. Aside from the unlimited range that everyone knows about, he has shown an ability to hit those runners when he gets going. It is no surprise that this is his number one appeal as a basketball player. I feel last year was when he best showcased it, and was the time when the Jimmer lovers had the strongest argument that he needed more playing time. As a fan, there was nothing more frustrating than when he would have a great first half, only to rot on the bench until the Kings were down 20. Keith Smart had a bad habit of doing this time and time again. On the other side, I do feel this year he has taken more time to grow comfortable, as I feel that, at the beginning of this season especially, he went in to games trying too hard to impress the coaches and didn't let his game come to him. He still is having an issue with this occasionally. I think the coaches would love nothing less than for him to go into BYU mode and take any open shot he sees. He never needs to force the issue. Even though he plays limited minutes, I have seen very few guys with his role that still get picked up full court. Teams respect his scoring ability.
Jimmer's struggles on defense have been well documented among Kings fans, and while he certainly struggles, especially against the quicker, athletic guards, I feel that it is unfair at times to pin all of it on Jimmer. He most definitely needs to improve his defense, but there are plenty of guards who have gotten away with lackluster defense. Steve Nash has two MVPs, and as Kings fans, we did have Mike Bibby for years. Mike Bibby and Jimmer have similar defensive ratings to each other, with Bibby's being just slightly lower. Jimmer's main problem on D seems to be keeping up with his man, especially the slashers. When he is able to stay with his man. I actually am impressed with his ability to stay on the ball (considering his reputation), when he is staying with his man. Jimmer is not a good defender, but neither is anyone on this team.
The Play Maker.
Jimmer is not a Point Guard. I know everyone, a lot of coaches included, will automatically play anyone under 6'4 at the 1 spot, but a lot of them just aren't Point Guards. That said, I feel Jimmer can be a great playmaker still when he is able to create with lineups that are able to spread the floor. One of the most underutilized and understated things about Jimmer so far in his young career is his chemistry with DeMarcus Cousins. These guys, while they do not play together often, always seem to work well off of each other, as Jimmer keeps the floor spread much more than Isaiah Thomas does. It seems like the few times they do play together, it always seems to result in a good run. This is when Jimmer is best utilized as a play maker. It is hard to be a great play maker when you are out there with our bench. Now, I will not say this is always the excuse, however. Going back to what I said about Jimmer trying too hard to impress the coaches, I feel that is a big problem at times, especially in the turnover department. If there is one fault I see in his game, it is most definitely when he tries to get too fancy with the ball and passes it right to the other team. Again though, in his defense, he is far from the only one who has this problem on our team.
So what type of player is Jimmer? Is he the valuable piece that unfairly rides the pine, or is he the cancer that should never leave the pine. The answer is... both. There are certain games where he should not get many minute, like games against guys like Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook, but in a lot of other games, he deserves a chance, something I think Malone has been good at for the most part. I feel the main thing is getting him in there with the right lineups. The best way to find out, in my opinion, is to give him a shot with the starters. Ben McLemore is struggling, and some changes need to come, and this could be the way to help both of them break out. I don't expect Jimmer to be the next big thing but I also don't see why he can't be on the same level, if not better, than players like J.J. Redick and Kyle Korver if given the right chance with the right people around him.