Jimmer Fredette: To pick or not to pick?

Jimmer Fredette is the sexy pick, but is he the right pick for the Suns?

Jimmer Fredette is the sexy pick, but is he the right pick for the Suns?

Jimmer Fredette.

It’s the most polarizing name on the draft board among players expected to be available when the Suns make the 13th selection in this year’s draft.

After spending a season as the most hyped player in college basketball, a year in which Jimmer Mania took over the sport, the Suns would surely win the press conference by making him their selection, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’d be the right pick.

Paola Boivin of The Arizona Republic wrote a glowing column on Jimmer this week in which she pleads Suns fans “to stop talking about what Fredette can’t do and reflect on what he can.”

She quotes Jimmer saying, “I would be playing in a situation I would like to play in” before making her pitch on why the Suns should draft Jimmer.

Boivin writes:

There is much to like. The ability to create shots. The unlimited range. The crazy crossover. The shots off the dribble. He led the nation in scoring last season with 28.9 points per game.

There’s also the basketball IQ, the leadership, the passing and the ball-handling skills.

The Suns have to start thinking about their future guard play. I can envision Fredette as part it.

Anybody who played ESPN’s mock draft lottery in recent weeks knows what ESPN’s resident draft analyst Chad Ford thinks about the possibility of Jimmer to the Suns. Spin after spin on the mock lottery machine ended with Jimmer in purple and orange.

But after running into Lon Babby at the Chicago pre-draft camp, Ford is changing his tune a bit:

The Suns also like Jimmer, and with Steve Nash rolling into the last year of his deal — and with backup Aaron Brooks far from a lock to replace him — Fredette fits a need and his style of play fits well with Alvin Gentry’s system.

However, Phoenix Suns president Lon Babby has been emphasizing defense this summer, and I got an earful about it from Babby in the lobby of the Westin in Chicago last week. Given the major question marks surrounding Fredette’s defensive abilities, he may not be as snug of a fit as I had thought. While Babby didn’t rule out taking Fredette at 13, he didn’t sound like a man whose heart was set on taking him.

In Ford’s latest mock draft, he has the Suns passing on Jimmer to take Colorado guard Alec Burks with Jimmer falling to the Pacers at No. 15.

As for me, my heart says pick Jimmer but my head says not so fast. His scoring exploits would fit in well with this team’s up-tempo style but his weak defense doesn’t make sense considering the team’s offseason emphasis in this department.

One thing I disagree about in Boivin’s article is when she writes, “Since when does getting tougher as a team defensively start at point guard? Most of the NBA’s best defensive teams get their prowess at the center and forward positions.”

It does when a team has been putting up with inferior defensive play at the point guard spot for seven years because of the player’s otherworldly offensive gifts.

It would be unfair to pin all of this team’s defensive struggles on Nash, but at the same time I wonder how much better the Suns’ defense would be if their starting point guard shut down his counterpoint at the point of attack on a consistent basis.

Boivin also writes about the boon Jimmer would be to the Suns’ marketing department, which to me should not even be a consideration. If Tristan or Klay Thompson (no relation) would fit the team’s future better, you take them over the sexy pick even if they won’t sell as many tickets or draw as much buzz on billboards as Jimmer.

If I’m Babby, I select Jimmer if I think he is worthy of carrying the torch as the Suns’ point guard of the future. He’s an incredible shot maker, but are his point guard skills at a high enough level? Is he brilliant enough offensively to make up for his defensive deficiencies a la Nash?

Jimmer would be fun and I expect him to be a superb bench scorer if nothing else down the road, but to me those questions cannot be answered definitively enough to warrant a selection.

Tags: Jimmer Fredette

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