Jimmer Fredette has drawn a lot of interest in Sacramento since the Kings fell to the No. 7 spot in the 2011 NBA Draft. The Kings have stated openly that they are looking for shooting and more ball-handling in the backcourt; Fredette has been one of the better shooters in college basketball, with legit NBA range. He's also a bit of a combo guard, averaging four assists per game at BYU.
Also, the world has eternal Jimmer Fever, which is totally understandable, because he's a thrilling player to watch work.
But does he fit in Sacramento? A startling admission and an assessment of Fredette's chances of going No. 7 below.
The admission: I'm not mad at picking for "fit" over talent. At the top? Best player available, every time. When you're left picking a role-player or someone unlikely to ever be your best player? I think fit should be a part of the equation. In this draft, at No. 7, the chances you're picking a player who will be better than Tyreke Evans or DeMarcus Cousins seems really, really small. If you do it, you're taking a risk -- a player like Bismack Biyombo could become an All-Defense candidate and your rock in the middle, or he could be Mouhamed Sene. Not a whole lot of players past Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, Enes Kanter, Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight have legit All-Star potential. Maybe those guys don't either.
But that doesn't mean it's a useless draft, just not one filled with stars. There can be starters, role players, solid NBA guys. And why wouldn't you take fit into account if you're betting on pulling one of those? It's a bit like free agency and the trade market, right? If you have a legit chance for LeBron James, you go after LeBron James, even if you have Luol Deng at small forward. If you have a legit chance for Dwyane Wade, you go after Dwyane Wade, even if your biggest hole is at power forward. If you have a legit chance for Kyrie Irving, you go after Kyrie Irving, even if your biggest hole isn't point guard.
But if you're looking at the second tier of free agents or trade targets, you have to take fit into account. You don't go after David West if you have Kevin Love. You don't chase Rudy Gay if you have Carmelo Anthony. Fit matters! So if the Kings are targeting sub-stars in the draft, why wouldn't fit matter?
That's where I run into a problem with Jimmer.
He's a high-volume scorer who shoots from deep and drives the hoop. That's great stuff. But it's also what Marcus Thornton does. And Marcus Thornton does it well at the NBA level. And the Kings have every intention of retaining Thornton in free agency, and it's unlikely he'll be too expensive.
The Kings have Beno Udrih at point guard, and he could either start or come off the bench. Tyreke Evans could start at point guard or shooting guard. Thornton could start at shooting guard or come off the bench. Udrih is definitely a PG, Thornton definitely a SG, Evans can play either. If you draft a guard like Jimmer, one who can theoretically play either position (as a Barean point guard or Redickian two-guard), you are drafting a fourth guard.
I said you're not expecting a star at No. 7, because no star-level players will be there. But you're aiming a little higher than fourth guard, right?
You're aiming higher than a Delonte West, Thabo Sefolosha, J.J. Barea, Gary Neal, A.J. Price, C.J. Watson, Keyon Dooling level at No. 7, even in this draft. I know Kawhi Leonard is getting mixed reaction around here, but he could legitimately be your starting small forward from Day 1. That's 25 minutes plus. The fourth guard? 10, 13 max. At No. 7, even in this draft, where you know you're not missing an All-Star, you're aiming higher than a fourth guard, right?
Fredette only becomes more than that if a) Evans becomes a small forward (seems unlikely), or b) Udrih gets traded (possible). But otherwise, he replicates Thornton without having proven he can do it in the NBA. It'd be nice to have a good, young fourth guard. But this team has much more pressing issues than replacing Pooh Jeter or Jermaine Taylor.
That's where I abide by fit over "best player available," where the best player available is going to help you less in the long run than a good "fit" choice. It's still a guessing game -- Leonard or whoever could end up being terrible, and Fredette could turn out better than Thornton. It's all a huge guessing game. But my guess is that a player at another position would have a greater impact for the Kings than Fredette could, given current circumstances.