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Jimmer Fredette: Jimmermania

December 7, 2015, Troy, NY  Before Linsanity and prior to Tebowmania, Jimmermania gripped the nation’s sports fans. Jimmer Fredette during his senior season as a guard at Brigham Young scored in a manner reminiscent of Steph Curry’s 2008 NCAA tourney run with Davidson. The similarity in that both were lights out scorers, with unlimited shooting range at mid-major programs. Neither possess size or elite athleticism. They are self-made players who through hard work developed into great college players. BYU’s offense was built around Jimmer, and he flourished in it. Fredette led the nation in scoring while passing current Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge as the Cougars’ all-time leading scorer. Fredette earned the John R. Wooden Award as the top collegiate player.

Jimmer entered the 2011 NBA Draft with questions about his ability based on the level of competition he faced in the Mountain West Conference. Fredette’s lack of quickness and size made him a hit or miss NBA prospect. The concern was that he lacked the explosiveness to penetrate and stop opposing guards from blowing past him on defense. At 6’2″, could he be effective playing off the ball where his lack of leaping ability could be exploited by bigger 2 guards. Against this backdrop, Jimmer was selected 10th overall by the Sacramento Kings ahead of Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard.

The Kings were far from an ideal landing for Fredette. Their ownership situation was in flux, and their roster included the enigmatic DeMarcus Cousins. The NBA owners locked out the players in July, and the NBA Summer League was cancelled. After the lockout ended, rookies entered an abbreviated schedule with shortened training camps. Isaiah Thomas, from the University of Washington, was drafted with the 60th and last pick of the draft. Whereas Fredette struggled early on, Thomas thrived in this environment. Thomas was also undersized at 5’9″, but his speed and ability to create off the dribble provided an opening for him in the Kings backcourt rotation.

To complicate matters, head coach Paul Westphal was replaced by assistant Keith Smart during their rookie season. Smart had the interim label removed and was in charge for Fredette’s second season. Fredette’s rookie growing pains continued, and his older brother, T.J. made matters worse by tweeting “that Smart was an assistant at best.” Jimmer was squarely put on the spot and apologized for his sibling’s transgression.

The Kings ownership situation was resolved when the Maloof Brothers sold the franchise to Vivek Ranadive in 2013. GM Geoff Petrie, who drafted Fredette, was replaced, and Mike Malone was named head coach entering his third season. As a lottery pick, Jimmer had yet to meet expectations and did not have his rookie contract extended into a 4th season. Jimmer entered his third season without job security and was subsequently released by the Kings midway through the season. He finished the season with the Chicago Bulls but was not retained.

Jimmer was picked up by the New Orleans Pelicans for his fourth season. A lack of stability contributed to his inability to earn consistent playing time. At the completion of his 4th season, he became a free agent and received an offer from the San Antonio Spurs which included a partial guarantee. This was an opportunity to get his career on track. The Spurs are a model franchise led by GM RC Buford and head coach Gregg Popovich. San Antonio has a reputation for reclamation projects having developed Danny Green, Boris Diaw and Patty Mills into quality NBA contributors. This was an ideal situation for Jimmer.

He was competing with former King, Ray McCallum and rookie Jonathon Simmons for the last roster spot. Fredette was notified towards the end of the preseason that he was being released. His NBA prospects looked bleak. He was selected by the New York Knicks D-League affiliate the Westchester Knicks. The Pelicans obtained a roster exemption and Jimmer was picked up by New Orleans. The Pelicans waived Jimmer and he reported to Westchester. He was resembled the “Jimmermania” era player and has a chance to resuscitate his career.
These are the players drafted tenth overall in the two drafts before and after Jimmer along with their career statistics:

Jimmer Fredette, 10th by the Sacramento Kings, 5th season, currently with the Westchester Knicks, D-League
6.0 points, 1.0 rebound, 1.4 assists per game

Brandon Jennings, 10th by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2009, 7th season currently with the Detroit Pistons,
16.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 6.2 assists per game

Paul George, 10th by the Indiana Pacers in 2010, 6th season,
16.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists

Austin Rivers, 10th by the New Orleans Pelicans, 4th season, currently with the Los Angeles Clippers
7.1 points, 1.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists per game

CJ McCollum, 10th by the Portland Trailblazers, 3rd season
8.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists (current season averages 19.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists)

I am including quotes that were included in an article by Michael Lee, Yahoo SportsWhy Jimmer Fredette Has Been Such a Big Bust in The NBA” (dated 10/21/15)
Jimmer thinks everybody is stupid”, said an NBA assistant who worked with Fredette.
He thinks everybody needs to come and just turn over their offense and let him shoot it anytime he wants. That’s not The League works”.
His foot speed at that position isn’t on par with those guys, that’s a big deal, the NBA assistant said.
I think the big thing for Jimmer is not offensively, but defensively. “
He won’t adjust his game for it” he said.
He’ll tell you, ‘This is what I did at BYU. Well, BYU, that’s a long time ago
In college everything was geared around him”, his former coach said.
He’s had to learn how to play off other people here, and it’s been a struggle for him”.

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