Tbird 2011 NBA draft analysis #8: Jimmer Fredette
Written by thunderbird1245
Tonight we head to Utah, to put the sharp shooting point guard from Brigham Young, Jimmer Fredette, under the scouting microscope. Already in this series we’ve taken an in depth look at 7 prospects: Nikola Vucevic, *Alec Burks, Chris Singleton,* Tristan Thompson, Klay Thompson, Marcus Morris, and Jordan Hamilton. Fredette makes the 8th in the series, and has long been thought of to be a target for Larry Bird at pick #15. With this examination, I am trying to go study him hard and try and clarify how good he will be at the pro level. You can read my breakdown, and then decide for yourselves.
Measuring in at 6’2 1/2, and around 195lbs, Fredette measures in about average in terms of height and weight. He has a wingspan of 6’4 1/2, which isn’t freakish at all but is a respectable number for an NBA point guard.
His athleticism is a major question mark, just from a pure God given talent aspect. In terms of the natural gifts of sheer quickness, height, and leaping ability, he probably is just average at best for an NBA point guard. But he has several hidden talents athletically that help him…..he is very quick and tight with the dribble, his technique and footwork are above average, his anticipation and awareness are very good as well. He has quick hand/eye coordination, doesn’t waste alot of steps offensively, and plays the game very smartly when his team has the basketball. His effort and energy are above average, and he has a charisma and flair that is hard not to appreciate.
Fredette is coachable it appears, and has been taught the fundamentals well. He has had definite high quality training during the draft process, and that has given him the ability to impress in these workout type settings more than most originally thought he would. He oozes confidence, and has the sort of personality that makes people like him, both with his teammates and especially with his fan base, which is considerable. Fredette probably is one of the most popular players for young kids in whatever community may select him.
His quickness defensively in college is his biggest knock, and he clearly didn’t defend well at all at BYU. Mostly, he gave poor effort, not naturally bending his knees and getting in the most basics of a defensive stance. He definitely saved his legs for the offensive end at BYU, but won’t have that kind of luxury in the NBA.* Still, I think he possesses the prerequisite athleticism and speed to play the position, so in my judgement he will be a better (not great by any stretch) defender at the pro level playing fewer minutes with less responsibility.
Since I mentioned some of this above, let’s talk defense first with Jimmer Fredette.
Fredette was poor in college no question. He gave poor effort guarding the dribbler, stood straight up away from the ball, didn’t fight hard thru screens, didn’t contest jump shots well…..basically the entire litany of defensive coaching checkpoints Fredette would have to be rated “below average”.* He was a guy the BYU coaching staff had to hide defensively to keep him fresh, and a guy the opponent tried to attack if possible.
Fredette has poor balance on this end, which makes him slow. He reaches with the wrong hand often, and gets his weight out on his toes making him unable to move with a quick twitch. His total inability or willingness to bend his knees and get in a stance when in an off ball position makes him slow to drop his hips and close out on people. By standing straight up too much he struggles to get around screens, and he lacks the athletic talent to be able to offset that bad habit. When guarding the ball he is better than advertised, but as soon as his man gets rid of it out of his stance goes Jimmer, making him very vulnerable to face cuts, follow/screen situations, or for quick flare screens directed at him.
The question you have to ask yourself as a front office guy, scout, or coach is: can this be fixed, and are we the people who can do it? Because if Fredette can’t play better defense than he has in college, then he can’t play. So by taking him, you have to be confident that you have the motivational skills, teaching ability, right system, and right personnel and style of play that will help him hide his defensive flaws.
I think Fredette can be coached up to an average NBA level defender, in my judgment. Being in better condition, playing fewer minutes, and becoming more focused on that end is what he needs to be able to do to get better. The ideal team will somewhere on the floor at one of the other 4 positions have some way above average defender to pair with him, to help balance out his flaws and making all the parts fit together in an optimum way. If you can use him correctly, I think Fredette’s defense could be decent enough to make him a legitimate NBA starting point guard in time, but right now he isn’t there yet.
While his defense will likely get better as an NBA player, it is also likely that his offensive game will get a little worse as he plays much higher competition.
He was a dynamic offensive weapon at BYU, scoring in a variety of ways. He has every combination of dribble moves you’d want….he can cross you over, he can step back dribble, he can use the in/out bounce, he can go between his legs, he can go behind the back, and he can do any of these moves in any combination. The question a fine offensive player in the league has to answer is: “Can he get anywhere he wants to go with the dribble?”. In Fredette’s case, he can. The question is, can he score or dish once he gets there?
I think he will struggle scoring against help once he gets into the paint. Though he has the skills to shoot the floater and the teardrop shot, he isn’t going to be able to pull up and shoot over long armed athletic guys in the NBA at a high enough level to merit doing so. Instead he is going to need to be able to draw those people to him and then make the proper pass. At BYU, Jimmer often made the extraordinary pass…..but then he’d turn it over the next time trying to make another highlight play instead of just making the simple play. His judgment wasn’t always the greatest as a passer, but then again he didn’t have alot of talent playing with him either.
His calling card will be his range, ability to space the floor, and the ability to create a shot for himself and others up against the shot clock. But how good are those skills really?
Maybe Jimmer can shake and bake his way to shirk his man and get off a 28 foot jump shot whenever he wants….but I am not sure that is all that important a skill. In fact I think it is just as likely that when he fires one of those up that you’ll be shaking your head instead of clapping for him as a fan of the team he ends up on. So I see his ability to free himself off the dribble for a wild jump shot alot like I view being able to juggle, or say the alphabet backwards………a neat skill to be sure but one that doesn’t necessarily help me win.
But he will be deadly in a catch and shoot situation for sure as a spot up guy. And no one in the league will double off him to help dig the post, or to defend a driver. A creative coach can run offensive sets for his team to use Fredette in a way that really puts the defense in a tough spot. Any ball screen for him has to be carefully defended, and you can arrange the chess pieces on the floor to get him catch and shoot opportunities. He can be a great post feeder, as any 2 man game with him on the same side as your post guy is going to require alot of defensive planning.
Speaking of the ball screen, he does have very nice quick feet technically speaking coming around the corner. He gets low with his dribble, and is able to turn the corner and rise quickly into his shot. He does at times shoot the ball slightly after the apex of his jump, but that seems to be especially when he is tightly guarded and/or tired.* Like I have talked about before, he does a nice job of making that last dribble a hard bounce,letting him rise and flow with good rhythm. And because he gets low with the dribble and has a tight handle, he can split the trap on ballscreens as well, something some point guards hize cannot do well. And his crossover is good enough that he is always a threat to “turn down” the ballscreen, and instead refuse it and take it himself for a bounce or 2. At the NBA level, I think the way to guard him best in ballscreen situations will be to force him away from it and try and make him a driver, hoping his lack of elite athleticism gives him trouble trying to finish in traffic.
Many many people think he would be best served playing in a really up tempo system, but I totally disagree with that. I think* a team that plays half court oriented defense would help protect him best, and then a team would need to be creative offensively to take advantage of his outstanding shooting skills.
So what do we have in Jimmer Fredette?
I think Fredette is a below average defender currently, who is likely to improve in that area but never be better than average in that regard. Offensively I think his range is a major weapon, but not so much his ability to create his own shot off the dribble….in my view he will be much better in a slower set play type of situation that maximizes his ability to space the floor. Hopefully a team might have an extra ballhandler, which will let you play him off the ball some. And if a team has a wing capable of being able to “cross matchup” with him……. (in other words, a wing who can guard a point guard so he can guard a weak wing if the matchup lets you do that)……. that is even better.
I think eventually in the right situation and personnel groupings that Fredette can be an NBA starting point guard someday. But, chances are IF he is your starting point guard, you might not be that good of a team and your front office will always be looking for someone better to replace him.
In the perfect world, I think Fredette should be a back up point guard with a really creative coach and good defenders around him, playing 16-20 minutes a contest to begin with as an offensive boost type spark.
What does Indiana do at #15 if Fredette is still on the board? I think they probably would take him. But should they?
As most of you know, I highly value defensive point guards…I think in my view of basketball that defense begins at the point of attack, so in my way of looking at the world Jimmer Fredette isn’t a “Tbird” kind of point guard.
Having said that, I do think overall he will help us more than AJ Price probably. Plus, if Stephenson ever panned out, Fredette would be an interesting player to play with him. And, the tremendous defender that I think Paul George can/will be does let you have some leeway, as I mentioned above. For instance, if we were playing Chicago again, you could put Fredette on one of their wings (Watson, Korver, Bogans etc) and let Paul George guard Rose. Most teams don’t have that kind of flexibility, but we do. So, I can see an argument to be made for taking Fredette, and if all the guys I like better are gone at that point I won’t be complaining as I watch the draft next Thursday. I just won’t be jumping for joy.
Current NBA comparable: in prime Mike Bibby.
Bibby was a poor defensive starter, but a high quality offensive player for some really good teams in Sacramento. I wasn’t a fan because I didn’t think he guarded well, but Bibby has had a nice career no question.
Former NBA comparable: this is too easy: a smaller Danny Ainge
As always, the above is just my opinion.