Since ESPN’s Chad Ford released his first NBA mock draft (Insider) last week, there has been a quiet buzz on Planet Orange about who the Suns, a team not used to the lottery, might take.
As our friend Adam Green at ArizonaSports.com was quick to point out, Ford predicted the Suns will select Brigham Young point guard and college basketball sensation Jimmer Fredette.
First, we’ll acknowledge the fact that it’s still pretty early to make predictions so deep in the draft with about a month and a half until David Stern steps to the podium.
In fact, the draft order hasn’t even been determined yet (the Suns have a microscopic 0.6 percent chance at the No. 1 pick), so these kinds of things must be taken with a grain of salt.
That said, the suggestion that Fredette could end up in Phoenix undoubtedly makes for an interesting conversation at the least.
It creates a handful of questions worth discussing in an offseason that will provide considerably less to talk about than the last (excluding the whole lockout thing…). So let’s talk Jimmer.
Does Jimmer fit the Suns’ style of play?
In the context of college basketball, BYU played a high-scoring game somewhat similar to the Suns’. As Ford noted, though, it is Fredette’s skills that make him a fit for the Suns’ system, regardless of the style he played in college.
Fredette is a shooter, and the Suns’ style clearly values shooters. He has the long-range shot that has often dictated the Suns’ fate the last few seasons. He can also play an up-tempo game and score in bunches (at least in college — more on that soon).
The fits-for-the-wrong-reason argument is one certain to make Suns fans roll their eyes: defense. As in, Fredette doesn’t really play it or can’t. No, Steve Nash does not play defense either, but Nash is a proven star on the other end in the NBA. Fredette is not, which leads to the next question…
Will Fredette be a good NBA player?
No way to say for sure at this point, but there are a few past examples to consider. The two names that typically come to mind are J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison (in the “white guys who shot the three well in college” category). Redick had a slow start but has become a legitimate contributor. Morrison? Not so much.
There are plenty of other examples of college stars who couldn’t make it as a pro. Take former Sun Dee Brown, who led the University of Illinois to the NCAA National Championship Game alongside Deron Williams. Brown was a good college player, but spent little time in the NBA. Former Texas A&M point guard Acie Law is another good example. Since being taken 11th overall in 2007, Law has bounced around the league, largely as a deep bench player.
The conversion rate of college players to the NBA is so unknown that it’s hard to even guess. But given the right system, good college players with questionable pro ability can succeed (such as Tyler Hansbrough or Stephen Curry).
Adding to the intrigue in Fredette’s case is the legend that surrounds him. Rabid Jimmer fans have created a culture around him that his ability may not justify. However, it’s safe (safe?) to say the Suns won’t simply buy into hype (though picking a player like Fredette would certainly sell tickets, a la Tim Tebow with the Denver Broncos).
What would the Suns’ plans be for Fredette?
The Suns have insisted over and over that Steve Nash is not going anywhere this offseason. That may be true, but he will be gone eventually. Could Fredette be the next point guard in waiting on Planet Orange?
There’s no better point guard to learn under than Nash, and such a situation could make an NBA career more plausible for Fredette. The Suns’ front office brain trust undid all the work put into grooming Goran Dragic when they dealt him for Aaron Brooks last season.
What the Suns do with Brooks could affect how they draft, and the point guard situation is a whole other discussion on its own.
If nothing else, Fredette would sell some tickets and jerseys and get the fans talking. Right now, though, the Suns need much more than that. And besides, would the Jazz (predicted to draft before the Suns) really pass on Utah’s golden boy?