If you don’t know who Jimmer Fredette is, then you probably don’t use the internet, and thus are probably not reading this article. Perhaps the most recognized player in college basketball last season (save Kemba Walker), the Jimmer attained a cult-like status that managed to transcend the BYU Compound…er, I mean, campus, and reach as far as the great city of New York. Indeed, there are many throughout the tri-State area who believe that Fredette would be the ideal point guard for coach Mike D’Antoni’s system. And after watching some game footage of this sharp shooting point guard, it’s not too difficult to see why.
Perhaps the only thing that was deeper than Jimmer’s legacy at BYU was his range. He singlehandedly redefined the notion that one has to be remotely close to the hoop in order to score. Literally a threat to score as soon as he crosses half-court, Fredette’s stats and performance would seem to suggest a bright future in the shooting department at the next level.
However, I don’t quite see it that way. The best part about Fredette’s shooting ability is his range. However, shooting range (short of being able to hit a shot within five or so feet of the three point line) falls pretty low on the list of what’s important in a good NBA shooter. If the Jimmer starts squaring up for 35 footers at the next level, I guarantee you his coach will find him a nice comfortable spot to sit that’s at least 35 feet from the court. Simply put, I have a hard time seeing his range ever being an important factor in his NBA game.
When you break down the other aspects of his shooting game, you begin to see more chinks in the armor. He has a slightly inconsistent release, occasionally letting his footing drag with him as he shoots. He appears to be a competent catch and shoot guy, however this skill notably decreases when he faces tight man defense or double teams (as does much of his decision making, but we’ll come back to that). What’s most troubling to me, however, is that you really don’t see Fredette consistently finding himself open shots. Most of his open looks appear to be a product of his range, rather than any actual ability to gain separation from a defender, and again, at the next level, simply stepping back until you’re open isn’t going to cut it.
Although lauded for his offensive game, there are numerous things outside of Jimmer’s shooting ability that gives me cause for concern. While the tag-line throughout the pre-draft period has been that Jimmer’s ball-hogging was a product of the BYU system, I question if Jimmer’s tunnel vision is as much a product of less-than elite decision making as it is a product of the overall talent on BYU’s squad. When doubled, he does not consistently show an ability to make smart passes, and again, relies upon his range (which is the antithesis of what the Knicks need in a point guard). He is an average passer who gets more credit because of the flashiness of some of his passes, despite often telegraphing his looks by staring down his intended targets. I question whether or not he can ever be a starting point guard on a playoff-caliber team because of this.
Size is another problem with Fredette. You get a good sense of how much more strength would help Fredette when he works his way into the paint: nearly all of his drives end in him pulling back from defenders, rather than engaging under the basket and trying to draw contact. This will result in off balance shots and fewer fouls as a pro, a problem that may not have a solution in the NBA. Fredette isn’t quick enough to beat the smaller starting point guards in this league like Darren Collinson, and it’s fairly clear that he isn’t physical enough to handle a bigger guy like Jrue Holiday or Russell Westbrook in his face. Some have pointed to shooting guard at the next level, but I think that’s even less likely to work out; let me guess, you have a hard time imagining him guarding Kobe Bryant too?
Fredette’s issues with size, strength, and athleticism manifest themselves most visibly on the defensive end of the ball, where he is considered below average. For a player who is known far and wide as a gritty, passionate, and committed athlete, he gives up on an unusually high number of players defensively, electing to rely upon help defense (which on the Knicks, is a non-existent concept). He clearly isn’t quick enough laterally to be able keep up with faster and stronger players, and almost seems to view defense as a chore rather than a responsibility equally as important as offense. The notion that his scoring ability (which I question at the next level) somehow obscures his defensive inabilities is comical given the state of the Knicks—this is a team that desperately needs to improve its perimeter defense, and Fredette would be a bona fide liability in that regard.
Look, I’m not saying that Fredette can’t carve out a niche in this league; if Zaza Pachulia can be a contributor, I’ve learned to not count anything out. But the notion that he’s somehow the perfect point guard for the Knicks is laughable. The Steve Nash comparisons that have been comically thrown around all but ignore Jimmer’s lack of passing ability; when I look at him, I see a Jamal Crawford type of player, but in a less athletic 6’2’’ body. His drive and character are major pluses, as he’s going to need to be willing to put in a lot of work to be able to be a major contributor at the next level. I know that many are higher on the Jimmer, but when I watch him, I can’t see anything more than a scorer off the bench.
You can find more from Jeremy Snyder on Twitter. Following him will help you become a leader (and more knowledgeable about the game of basketball). Guaranteed.