With one game, Jimmer Fredette made the basketball world go crazy.
While I don’t necessarily consider myself a “basketball snob,” meaning, I refuse to watch anything other than the NBA, admittedly, I don’t watch very much college basketball anymore. Especially not like I used to. But if I ever needed a reason to watch NCAA hoops, then Jimmer Fredette is that reason.
Most people “discovered” him during the NCAA Tournament last March when he dropped 37 points on Florida in double OT, advancing BYU past the first-round in the tournament for the first time in school history a very long time.
A few months later, I got to watch Fredette up close during the Nike Skills Academy. He was, in my opinion, easily one of the best players there.
During 5-on-5 half court drills, former NBA Head Coach, John Lucas, would oftentimes team him up with Kevin Durant and they would then proceeded to destroy the competition, most times in embarassing fashion.
During the camp both in drills and in live play, Fredette showed that he could effectively play on or off the ball. He could get his shot off from any distance in almost any situation and make it, no matter who was guarding him. He could get to the basket whenever he wanted and finish with either hand. He could create off the dribble both for himself and his teammates. And he made good decisions passing the ball.
All in all, after a couple of days of watching him compete against some of the best college players in the nation, and with and against one of the best players in the NBA in Durant, it never ocurred to me to try and find someone to compare him to, I just knew that Jimmer Fredette was for real and so far in his senior season at BYU, he’s done nothing but confirm it.
On Wednesday night, the entire basketball world watched and was buzzing about the show he put on against San Diego State who was ranked No. 4 in the country and was undefeated coming into the game. He scored 43 points (his third 40 point outing in the last four games) despite going through several long stretches where he didn’t score at all. But when he did get going, you noticed it. It wasn’t a quiet 43 by any means.
Naturally, the conversation about Fredette turned into what kind of player he’ll be at the NBA level and you know what that means: Who does he compare to?
The Twitterverse was all over it. So was every sports network and sports writer. And while some of the comparisons being made were sensible, some were just downright strange, and I wondered if this kid was so good that he was actually making reasonably sane people lose their minds!
Still, it’s an interesting discussion because as good as he is in right now, as we’ve seen many times before, success in college doesn’t always carry over into the NBA.
But just for fun, let’s look at some of the common comparisons that have been made and why they don’t necessarily apply to “The Jimmer.” We’ll start with Adam Morrison.
Morrison was a very good college player who benefited from being in a system at Gonzaga that made him look much better than he really was. This system also did a very good job of hiding the fact that he had zero athleticism which would translate to him being nothing more than an average (at best) to below average NBA player. After being drafted No. 3 overall in 2006 by the Charlotte Bobcats (when has a Michael Jordan draft decision every produced a solid pro?), 4 years later he would wash out of the League.
He did get lucky enough to get a ring with the Lakers and if times get hard, he’ll at least have something of value to sell.
JJ Redick was an absolute stud at Duke and he is the best shooter I’ve ever seen in college basketball. But like most Duke players, he too was a system guy. He operated mainly coming off screens and in spot up situations in college and even though he had unbelievable range, he didn’t have the ball-handling skills or quickness to create his own shot.
Redick was drafted No. 11 by the Orlando Magic in 2006 – the same year as Morrison — and was mostly irrelevant his first few years in the League. He has gotten more playing time over the last two seasons and while he doesn’t seem to shoot with the same accuracy at the NBA level that he did in college, he has worked hard and turned himself into a decent defensive player which is earning him minutes and will keep in the NBA.
Steph Curry was the man at Davidson. OK, he was Davidson. Not many college kids can say that LeBron James came to their games just to watch them play.
Steph did that.
He also led the nation in scoring his junior season and made a little school in North Carolina that no one had heard of or even cared about, which played in the tiny Southern Conference that no one had heard of or even cared about, into the talk of the basketball world.
After playing off the ball in his first two years of college, he decided to transition to the point guard position during his junior season since it was widely agreed upon that would be the position he would play in the NBA. But being that he was the first, second and third option at Davidson and playing with guys that nobody can remember now, his PG abilities were largely overstated.
While Curry is still an excellent shooter, he’s not overly athletic and isn’t all that great of a ball handler even though he does have the ability to create space with his dribble and get his own shot. But at his core, he’s still an off-ball shooter and scorer who’s at his best spotting up and coming off screens a la Redick, and it’s just really hard to teach a guy like that to be an effective point guard on any level.
So how does Fredette differ from all three of these guys?
Well for starters, unlike Adam Morrison, he’s most certainly going to last a lot longer than 4 years in the NBA just on the strength of being the better athlete and better all-around basketball player.
With regard to both Redick and Curry, Jimmer is a much better ball handler, is quicker, and he plays with more of an attack the basket mentality and has an ability to draw contact which will get him to the free throw line. His outside shooting ability is the only real similarity that he shares with JJ and Steph. And unlike Curry, he’s been a point guard by position all his life.
As far as the comparisons to Ray Allen and Chris Jackson, those are just too ridiculous to even spend time on for various reasons. Nobody compares to “Jesus” and Mahmoud. Moving along…
Fredette was compared to Mark Price by your guy and mine, Ed The Sports Fan, and on the surface it seemed to make sense. I mean, both are white…
But seriously, Fredette is much bigger and stronger physically than Mark Price was and is also a better athlete too. Both shoot the ball very well, but Jimmer is the more natural scorer and Price was much more of a natural and traditional point guard with an ability to make shots. But that comparison is a sound one and certainly doesn’t border on the ridiculous.
My own comparison of Fredette was to Ben Gordon.
Both are of the same build, share similar quickness and athletic ability, have great shooting range, and play with a bounce that they use as a means to get their shot off over just about anybody.
Gordon is more of a shooter and scorer and doesn’t look to attack as much as he prefers to get his points from the perimeter. He isn’t anything close to a point guard which obviously separates him from Fredette, but they both have a tight handle and nasty crossovers that they can use to either drive or create separation for the pull-up jumper. And each is a natural born scorer, that much is certain.
But the real question in all of this is: who does Jimmer Fredette compare himself to?
Surprisingly enough, he compares himself to Deron Williams. Maybe it’s all off those Jazz games he’s watched over the past 4 years living in Provo. Still, he may actually be on to something. Both are big, stocky guards that can score and know how to keep their teammates involved. They also have a good understanding and feel for when it’s time to enforce their will and take over a game.
Fredette, of course, appears to be the better shooter, but their playing styles are similar and modeling his game after DWill’s can only be considered a good thing and will serve him well in the long run.
When talking about The Jimmer and how his game translates to the next level, player comparisons for the most part are pretty much useless because everyone’s game is different despite perceived similarities. And when talking about how Fredette projects as a pro, there are certainly more important and better questions that one should ask such as will he be able to defend at the NBA level or does he have the ability to run a team?
Additionally, the single most importact factor above all else lies with the team that drafts him.
If he gets into the right system, given his skillset and basketball IQ, he can flourish. If he doesn’t, he’ll most likely be buried on somebody’s bench.
But if those factors still don’t matter to you and you’re the type that just has to compare him to someone, know that you only aid in solidifying the obvious…
Jimmer Fredette is a pro.