Jimmer Fredette: To pick or not to pick?

Posted by on June 4th, 12:14 pm

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.

Michael Schwartz founded ValleyoftheSuns in October 2008 and is the owner/editor emeritus of the site. He is currently working toward his MBA in sports business at San Diego State University.

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Tags: Draft · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Analysis

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Lloyd I. Cadle // Jun 4, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    I like Jimmer too. Some of the suff that I have heard is that the BYU coach told him not to worry about defense.

    Jimmer had to carry much of the scoring load which led to less assists than he might have had.

    Let’s say that he doesn’t pan out as a very good point guard, at least Phoenix would have themselves a heck of a shooter. Even though Jimmer is a point guard, he may actually be a better shooting guard than the other shooting guards.

    However, it is a great asset to have a point guard that can play defense like Rajon Rondo.

  • 2 Cam // Jun 4, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    If Alec Burks drops to the Suns I think that should be a no brainer pick for the Suns. If he isn’t available I feel that Jordan Hamilton (6’9″ combo SG/SF) or Tristan Thompson (7’1″ wingspan PF) would fit our needs more. The Suns need to focus on picking up a SG or PF through trade or free agency and draft for the other. We have some trade chips in Pietrus (reasonable expiring contract at around 5 mil) and Lopez (young big with cheap expiring contract). No matter what kind of year Lopez had prior he still has value to teams needing a big. Go Suns.

  • 3 Cam // Jun 4, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    All I posted prior is with the assumption that the Suns keep Nash. Go Suns.

  • 4 Keith // Jun 5, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Completely agree with everything you just said, Cam.

  • 5 Steve // Jun 5, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    I’m against taking jimmer very strongly. The extent of my experience with him is very limited, but the bit I was able to witness did not scream “MAKE HIM YOUR FIRST PICK.” At least not where the suns are drafting.

  • 6 Jon L. // Jun 5, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Jimmer is an interesting possibility. He reminds me of JJ Reddick a few years ago because they both dominated in college and scored at will, but this may be an issue in the pros.

  • 7 Rich Anthony, (KJL) // Jun 5, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Everybody keeps talking about this guy and that guy, but it really depends on the complete plan of the Suns and if that plan is the same before and after the CBA is ironed out.

    Also, we’re not exactly in the top of the lottery. A lot of these guys being mentioned could very well be gone. Keep in mind that teams don’t always draft for their own personal needs as in: “we’re taking this guy for us!” Sometimes, they draft guys for other teams.

    So just because a lot of the teams in front of us might not need a wing or a big doesn’t mean they won’t take them if they’ve got some deal in the works.

    It could be that Jimmer is the best guy available when it’s our turn to pick. If that’s the case then you take him.

    In any case, he doesn’t fit our go-to-scorer need so if he’s taken then that must be addressed somewhere else.

    I like Jordan hamilton as well, but if he is there and the Suns take him, where do you play him? Off the bench as well? Starting 2? 3?

    Tristan Thompson is a 1-and-done guy out of Texas and we keep talking about how we need a scoring 4, so if we take him I’m not sure that gets accomplished.

    He’d probably have to play the 3 spot as well because while he is 6’9″ he’s only 225 pounds this year actually losing 10 pounds coming out of high school.

    I mean, a lot of these names that keep popping up are probably not going to be starting solutions this year so it leads me to believe that this is going to be a ‘future’ pick.

    So whoever gets taken won’t fix any problems we have in terms of that second scorer in the starting rotation.

  • 8 Dick Nasty // Jun 6, 2011 at 7:32 am

    He is a stiff- just another Adam Morrison who can shoot but little else. I would NOT be drafting him. The Suns need a low post power forward who can score in the low blocks, play defense and rebound.

  • 9 Steve // Jun 6, 2011 at 7:46 am

    While the 4 is definitely a need, I don’t think it’s our strongest need. I’m with Rich, that we draft the best value available (I’m always for that in any draft, whether it’s MLB, NFL, NHL, whatever), but I have a hard time believing Jimmer will be the best value if he’s available at our pick.

    I don’t see much upside for him. His highest potential, in my opinion, is that of a guy like Mike Bibby’s first five years (15/5 as a starter). I really don’t see it getting much better than that. And while those are a lot better numbers than I could get, it’s not what an organization like the Suns expects from a PG. If we want to change our philosophy and move our team away from being such a PG-oriented system, I’m all for that. But I just don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon.

    Anyways, let’s just draft the next MJ and get on to winning some ships. I’m through with watching cheaters prosper. First Auburn, now the Heat.

  • 10 Dan // Jun 6, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    It’s funny how much talk there is about the alternatives as if they have no weaknesses. You want a great PG that can pass, shoot, and defend at a high level? No kidding. I’m sure there’s thousands of them at the 13th pick. Not even the MVP Rose can play defense. Last time I checked, no one was keeping Westbrook and Rondo away from the rim. The lofty expectations for a 13th pick are hilarious. Check out the track record of the last ten 13th picks and you’ll be hard pressed to find a starter in the bunch. Most aren’t in the NBA.

  • 11 Steve // Jun 6, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Kobe was a 13th pick. I know that’s past your ten year window, but the point stands.

  • 12 Keith // Jun 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    So was Karl Malone. But, yeah, most of them sucked. You just never know. Amazing how often everyone is totally wrong.

  • 13 Danny // Jun 7, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I think Jimmer will surprise the world if he is given the chance. Another BYU draft controversial (although for football) was Heisman winner Ty Detmer. Lot of people said nearly identical things about him as they do about Jimmer. (Too small, not athletic enough, too slow.) His pro career stats were really good, but he didn’t get to play much as backup for Brett Favre, and Steve Young.

    Jimmer and his BYU Coach, (Dave Rose,) have both said that Jimmer CAN play defense, but was asked to save his energy for offense. People who have seen Jimmer at workouts (people like Larry Bird,) say that they were surprised at his athleticism and defensive capability. I’m not sure how well Jimmer will do, but I say he’ll at least do better than expected. I’m saying he’ll most likely draft @ 12 to the Jazz, and for certain be off the table by 15. I think that he will outperform at least 8 of the people picked higher than him.

    But I could be wrong. Time will tell.

  • 14 Cody // Jun 7, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    The one question I have is how many people that are commenting here actually watched him play?? And I am not just talking about the few NCAA tournament games at the end of the season when he was clearly exhausted after losing his only good big man for the season. If you actually watched his games you would see that he is a much better at some of the things he receives no credit for. For example, he passes much better than people think. I watched him all four years and you could see his progression in that area. Also, despite what everyone says he was not a huge ball hog that will HAVE to take shots in the NBA to succeed. He did take many more shots in college than he will need to in the NBA simply because he played on an EXTREMELY streaky BYU team. They were a team that was either way on or way off. If they were off, then he WAS the offense. Finally everyone talks about his shooting, but his ability to get to the rim and take contact is what sets up his shot. Granted the NBA players are bigger and stronger, I still have no doubt he will be successfully with his dribble penetration.

    I am not saying he is the next Steve Nash or even an allstar in a few years, but he certainly has much more potential and skills than he gets credit for.

  • 15 KLS // Jun 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    It’s easy to peg a player as a purely offensive and not good at defense. I think that’s particularly the case with Jimmer as he’s so offensively explosive that it’s easy to assume he’s bad at defense.

    Danny is right- Dave Rose told him not to worry about defense. If you’ve seen the interviews with Jimmer, he’s working HARD to improve defense as he knows it’s soo important to improve to get playing time in the NBA.

    Draft Jimmer? Depends who’s on the board still at #13 but it’s presumptive so say the Suns shouldn’t even think about it. He could be the most talented option at #13 who also has the most potential.

    One thing’s for sure- they guy has his head on straight and is a hard worker! AND he has talent as well as a proven shot. He’s fast too!

  • 16 auggie5000 // Jun 13, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I have only seen youtube highlights of Fredette so here is the Big question: Does he play like Eddie House?

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