Every year in college basketball there’s great turnover and even with traditional powerhouses, a new narrative; this is often the appeal for most followers, but every year isn’t the same. Flashback to the 2010-11 season and the talk of the town/nation/every pick-up game in the nation was Jimmer Fredette.
Even with Kyrie Irving looking like the clear cut number one pick, an emphatic performance Derrick Williams NCAA tournament and Kemba Walker proving to be a master of single elimination tournaments, Fredette was who the conversation always ended up being about.
There were no doubts that Fredette’s game had flaws, and while opinions varied on what level of player Fredette could be, it was assumed that he had the ability to make shots.
But, his rookie season fall Fredette fall short of expectations by a wide margin. Per Synergy Sports, Fredette shot a respectable 36.4% from beyond the arc (though, not the eye popping margin that one would expect from a shooting specialist).
Fredette struggled adapting from someone who had free-reign of the offense to someone who was expected to act as a facilitator first and foremost. His hesitation was apparent in his game and it clearly affected his game.
Despite it being just his rookie season, Jimmer was already being labeled as a bust.
Fredette seemed most comfortable scoring out of spot up situations where he shot 40.3% from beyond the arc and posted a PPP of 1.01.
This year, however, Fredette is playing more like the player that many expected him to be.
Spot ups are actually a weakness for Fredette as he shoots 35.1% from beyond the arc in these situations, while shooting 42.1% from three as a whole.
Fredette has seemed more comfortable in his role and is attacking as opposed to being complacent.
Part of this change may be due to just having more time in the league, but there is likely a correlation that Fredette is spending more time as the Kings’ shooting guard as opposed to playing point guard.
During his rookie year, Fredette played 34% of the team’s total minutes at point guard and 10% of the minutes at shooting guard, and the difference was fairly miniscule production-wise.
However, this year, Fredette is thriving as a shooting guard. His numbers are better and his opponents are worse when he plays shooting guard versus point guard, as shown here by 82games.com:
As a shooting guard, Fredette’s role is to primarily score, and defensively he is able to use his strength to match-up against large defenders, whereas against point guards he is often at a quickness disadvantage.
Here, you can see Fredette looking to score out of pick-and-roll situations and despite being a 41.7% FG shooter, he gets opportunities to get to the basket and open looks at the rim:
Fredette appears to be a better shooter in rhythm and pick-and-roll and transition opportunities are his best chances to get said types of shots up, and the numbers reflect it.
Currently, he ranks as the 14th (and has been in the top ten at various points in the season) best scorer as a pick-and-roll ball handler, per Synergy Sports, posting a PPP of 0.93. And, in transition he puts up a PPP of 1.08 and shoots 50% from beyond the arc.
In theory, isolation situations would be a strength, too, because they allow him to be in rhythm, but his limited athleticism makes it difficult for Fredette to free himself. He posts a PPP of 0.66 (0.3 below his overall) in isolation situations.
Jimmer is no longer the phenomenon he was at Brigham Young, but he is proving to be a very useful NBA player. His player efficiency rating is currently at 15.6 (above league average), which is up from the 10.8 he posted as a rookie. If used in the right setting Jimmer can be a game-changer, and in this right, ‘he is who we thought he was.’
Special thanks to Synergy Sports, 82games.com and Basketball-Reference for the statistics and to jeremydeades for the heading image via Flickr.