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Jimmer Fredette trying to find his way, Kings not helping much

Jan 28, 2012, 8:02 AM EDT

Jimmer Fredette, Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose AP

It’s been a rough rookie year for Jimmer Fredette.

In college he was a pure scorer who could do no wrong, racking up big numbers in the face of double teams while setting his teammates. His team won and he was the Golden Child. In the NBA, with its longer defenders, he is shooting just 36 percent off the Sacramento bench as they lose a whole lot of games. He’s scoring 8.5 points per game but needs 8.3 shots to get there. On defense he is getting exposed and intentionally isolated by opposing teams.

His PER of 10.4 would mean you barely get off the bench most places. The Kings just don’t have a choice (and they rightfully think he can improve with experience, so he gets some hard lessons).

What happened to the gunner Jimmer? Sebastian Pruiti does a fantastic breakdown over at Grantland and the answer is he hasn’t been able to adjust to being less athletic than just about everyone on the court yet. And, the Kings have been playing him out of position.

But things are changing.

Regarding positioning, Fredette has gotten a lot of run as a point guard. He was a decent passer in college, but he was a scorer not a set up man. Why the point now? Well, one reason is Paul Westphal, but that coach has been kicked to the curb. The other issue is the Kings don’t really have a choice. They have Tyreke Evans and then, well, why not give Jimmer a shot?

So how often has Fredette been running the point? According to82games.com, 37 percent of the Kings’ point guard minutes have gone to him. The problem? He’s been very bad during those minutes, averaging 4.6 assists per 48 minutes and 3.5 turnovers per 48. He commits most of his turnovers in pick-and-roll situations, where Fredette loses the ball 14.8 percent of the time. Fredette has been such an ineffective pick-and-roll ball handler because he doesn’t put much pressure on defenses when he uses ball screens.

According to MySynergySports.com, 31.9 percent of Fredette’s offensive opportunities come when he is the ball handler in the pick-and-roll, and he shoots 35.6 percent in that situation. As already noted he turns the ball over a lot in that role. Bad combo.

But that’s not how any of us pictured Jimmer — we thought more Ray Allen, a guy who can run off screens and catch-and–shoot. Except he is getting very few chances off screens. And that’s on him.

When Fredette moves without the ball, he runs in straight lines, rarely changes his pace, and almost never creates contact with his defender. This allows his defenders to “lock and trail” him, so when Fredette receives a pass the defense is already smothering him. With the defense too close for a catch-and-shoot, Fredette is forced to create a shot using his dribble.

The athletes in the NBA can keep up with Jimmer in a way the defenders in the Mountain West Conference could not. Every shot is contested by a very long arm that closes out quickly.

But the last couple games it has been different — he is 8-of-12 from three his last couple games.

Coach Keith Smart is still having him work off ball screens. However, there is one significant difference between the ball screens Fredette has been using in the past two games and the ones he used the rest of the season. Now, the Kings are setting more screens for Fredette on the side of the court and not at the top of the 3-point line. Sacramento has been pairing him with another primary ball handler like Evans or Thomas and passing to Fredette on the wing.

It’s a start. He has to score if he wants to see the court. Eventually he’s going to have to improve his defense, which is harder because most of the two guards he’s asked to stick with are faster and a couple inches taller. But there is a role out there for Fredette — he can shoot, and if you can put the ball in the basket teams will find a way to use you.

But we are a long way — and a lot of work — from Jimmer being the guy so many hoped he would be.

  1. Alohamrhand - Jan 28, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    I watched lots of Jimmer when he was at BYU and he was a big scorer but he took about 80 percent of the Cougars shots as well.Moving him to point off the bench might be as good as its going to get for his career.

  2. trickybastard - Jan 28, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    This is a ridiculous article to write after 16 games. First, the whole Kings team is playing horribly. People only want to write about athleticism when the player in question is white. He has absolutely no problem creating his own shot. The first 13 games Jimmer has deferred to other teammates. Over the last 3 games he is 12-20 for 3 pointers. That’s 60%. Watch an occasional game instead of relying on other writers to form an opinion after only a handful of games.

    • mytthor - Jan 28, 2012 at 12:07 PM

      I see what you’re saying about people only wanting to write athleticism when a player is white, but I don’t really think that’s the case here. In fact, Helin breaks one of the unwritten rules by comparing a white player’s game to a black player (see the Ray Allen comparison). However, the stereotype doesn’t stop it from being true; Fredette is much less athletic by comparison in the NBA vs the NCAA, and if you don’t think that affects your game, you’ve never been covered by someone 3 inches taller who jumps twice as high.

    • tlef64 - Aug 3, 2012 at 2:12 PM

      Old blog but I agree!

  3. edavidberg - Jan 28, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    I like the analysis. The Kings are a hopeless bunch but Jimmer is definitely playing out of position as a point guard. Jimmer is more JJ Redick than Ray Allen but he can still have a fine NBA career in the right role and situation.

    • Kurt Helin - Jan 28, 2012 at 1:46 PM

      I like the Redick comparison, I am just slow to use it because I want to avoid the whole “white guy shooter” comparison.

      • LPad - Jan 28, 2012 at 6:53 PM

        I understand not using the “Redick comparsion” but the Ray Allen comparsion doesn’t fit. For one, Allen is a legit 6-5 and he was very athletic coming out of college (still pretty athletic now). He wasn’t a Kobe or a Vince Carter, but he was an above average athlete for a NBA 2. When you think about the Reddick comparsion doesn’t work either because Jimmer showed in college that he could develop into a good combo guard which Reddick never did.

    • mytthor - Jan 28, 2012 at 3:19 PM

      He needs to improve his defense like Redick has to find his nba role.

  4. illogic87 - Jan 28, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    Jimmer is absolutely terrible. He should not be in the NBA

  5. trickybastard - Jan 28, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Look, the sample size isn’t close to being fair. Jimmer is plenty athletic – recruited as a WR and can dunk with two hands. All he needs to do is to be able to get his own shots and he can. That’s what separates him from JJ Reddick. Jumping is not the issue. Ask other white players like John Stockton and Steve Nash. His confidence has been there the last 3 games and he is 60% from three. If you’re going to be quick to judge at least watch closer.

    • mytthor - Jan 28, 2012 at 3:24 PM

      The idea that John Stockton and Steve Nash are not athletic is silly. They can’t really jump but both have amazing stamina and quickness, and most importantly, handle the ball much better than Jimmer. Being able to dunk with 2 hands when you’re 6’2″ doesn’t make you an NBA athlete – I went to high school with 3 guys who could do that.

  6. glink123 - Jan 28, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    This is brilliant analysis. Best KH article this season, IMHO. Would love to see a similar breakdown of numbers between DRose and CP3.

  7. trickybastard - Jan 28, 2012 at 9:41 PM

    Jimmer is just as athletic as Steve Nash or John Stockton. That’s the point. You don’t need to jump high to make in the NBA.

  8. mytthor - Jan 29, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    Jimmer is nowhere NEAR as athletic as Steve Nash. Steve Nash could have been a pro soccer player; your comparison for Jimmer is that he was a good football player in high school. He can jump as high as those guys but his problem is he doesn’t have the quickness, speed, ballhandling ability, or frankly, the basketball iq as those guys. Not that he’s a dumb player but if you want to talk about stereotypes, you should realize that not every slow groundbound white shooter is automatically a brilliant student of the game.

    Also, point guard and shooting guard are two hugely different positions in the NBA. Jimmer is a SG in a PG body. I see his career going similarly to Adam Morrison if he can’t make some BIG adjustments to his game. Which maybe he can, but I love how you talk about the small sample size of 13 games not being enough to tell but then you talk about how great he’s been the last 3 like it means something.

  9. DocHoliday - Feb 22, 2012 at 12:03 AM

    Calling Jimmer unathletic is obscene. He placed third in the 2011 combine lane agility drill. That meant beating out “superior athletes” in Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker, and the guy playing over him now, Isaiah Thomas.

    Say he’s not a pure point guard. Say he doesn’t have ideal two-guard size. Say he needs to work on this or that. But saying he’s unathletic is both untrue and ignorant. It’s a white guy cop-out when it comes to analysis.

    The guy just needs to be given the damn ball, a backing from his team, and the green light to run this offense and pull the trigger. That has NEVER been the case.

    The fact that Isaiah Thomas is playing 40+ minutes per night as the starting PG and Fredette is DNP on the bench is beyond ridiculous.

    I’ve never seen a 10th overall pick treated with such disrespect.

    Go look at Kemba, B Knight, Ricky Ribio, and even damn Thomas. They’re all shooting horribly and have all been making mistakes as rookie point guards.

    Fredette has just as good if not better size as all of them, can out-shoot and score all of them, and can probably pass as good as some of them. And athletically, he actually measures up to them, too.

    Instead of his coaches trusting in him and helping him overcome his weaknesses, they clearly have given up on him already, which is just unforgivable for a guy as talented as he is. It will be a true shame if he gets tossed into the same pile as Adam Morrison and other white guys who didn’t make it. He’s a star waiting to happen. The Kings just don’t seem to care if it happens or not.

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