Jimmer Fredette is now a Bull. The Jimmer and I have a special relationship. You see, as a homesick college freshman three years ago, I was quite depressed that my address suddenly changed from Chicago, IL to Provo, UT. Just as Derrick Rose was becoming one of the most exciting players in the NBA, I moved to Utah to attend BYU. I missed Derrick, and I missed my city. I knew of the Jimmer, I knew he was a very talented offensive player, but really, I had no idea. It's hard to overstate the level of celebrity Jimmer attained in Utah, and especially Provo. Chicago clearly has a deep love affair with Derrick Rose, for obvious reasons. But there are other things to do in Chicago. The Bulls are a big part of the city, but Chicago is a BIG city. Provo is not. The fact that BYU was consistently one of the lead stories in the national sports news cycle for 4 months was completely unprecedented. And I would like to personally thank The Jimmer for making my freshman year at BYU much less depressing.
As a BYU student, I was not happy to see Jimmer Fredette drafted by the Sacramento Kings. I mean, the Kings?!? Was there a worse situation for Jimmer to be thrown into? The answer is no. The Kings were (and are) a mess, and they have a glut of shoot-first guards that Jimmer never really had a chance of fitting into. But, to be fair, based on Jimmer's performance his rookie year, he didn't really deserve a shot (especially since Isiah Thomas became a solid player). Provo has been saddened by the development of The Jimmer in the NBA. While most rational basketball fans knew that Jimmer was taken too high in the draft, most also felt Jimmer would be able to add his valuable skills in an increasingly shooter-friendly NBA.
Jimmer has a little secret, though. Even though he has gotten less playing time each year he's been in the league, he's consistently gotten better and more efficient in spite of his team's chaos. Here:
The Jimmer 2011-2012
18.6 MPG 38.6 FG% 36.1 3P% 7.6 PPG 10.8 PER
The Jimmer 2012-2013
14.0 MPG 42.1 FG% 41.7 3P% 7.2 PPG 14.6 PER
The Jimmer 2014-2014
11.3 MPG 47.5 FG% 49.3 3P% 5.9 PPG 16.4 PER
The Jimmer has gotten better. Interestingly, Jimmer had a similar experience at BYU. Of course, most players get better the longer they play in a system. But at BYU, Jimmer started as a talented but inefficient freshman, but he consistently increased his PPG at BYU from 7.2 to 16.2 to 22.1 to 28.9 in his spectacular senior season.
The Jimmer has his weaknesses. Jimmer is not a good defender. In fact, he is bad. He was a bad defender at BYU, and that has unsurprisingly continued in the NBA. At BYU, Jimmer, for obvious reasons, completely carried our offense. The amount of work and effort Jimmer put into keeping our offense running was completely irrational and seemingly unsustainable. I can't find Jimmer's usage rate during his senior year at BYU, but my memory says it was easily above 50%. Because of this, Jimmer did not put near the effort into his defense as he did into his offense. Jimmer also played with Jackson Emery, who was quietly a fantastic defender and was right around Jimmer's size. Because of this, Emery would always guard the other team's best guard, while Jimmer would save his energy. Did Jimmer learn some bad habits on defense at BYU? Certainly. Can he unlearn some of these habits courtesy of magical ThibsDust? I hope so.
The Jimmer's DraftExpress page is an interesting read. Jimmer measured 6' 2.5" in shoes at the draft combine (the exact same as Derrick Rose). He has a 6' 4.5" wingspan with an 8' 0.5" standing reach. Overall, these are about average measurements for an NBA point guard. Because of this, we cannot expect Mr. Fredette to capably guard NBA shooting guards. Jimmer is a shoot-first point guard in the NBA, and his only chance to be a passable defender is to guard other point guards. Jimmer surprisingly performed very well in the lane agility test, with a time of 10.42 seconds (for comparison, Derrick Rose performed an 11.69 and Avery Bradley had an 11.47). In fact, this shocked me. Lane agility seems to test lateral movement, and Jimmer (in spite of his poor defensive ways) was straight-up elite in this measure. I hope this means that Jimmer could actually have the quickness to guard NBA athletes, and he simply needs to work on his defensive fundamentals, but really, I have no idea. But Jimmer was faster than Derrick Rose at something!!
I think most of us agree that Jimmer is a good signing. Clearly, we need shooting. Clearly, Jimmer is a good shooter. I'm very interested to see how Thibs adds Jimmer to the rotation. It seems to me that Jimmer and DJ Augustin simply cannot play together. They are both poor defensive guards, and I see no way Jimmer can guard most NBA shooting guards. But Jimmer and Kurt? That's a combination I like. Kurt can defend most NBA guards, and Jimmer and Kurt can share ball-handling duties when in the game together (which has been previously successful with both DJ and D Rose). Ultimately, DJ is still probably our best option at PG in the crunch time minutes, but I'd be very happy with Kirk and Jimmer sharing the court for 15-20 minutes a game.
But the Jimmer will come at a cost. I don't see Snell playing much at all if the Jimmer can improve his defense enough to stay on the court. I like Snell, but seriously, he has an 8.3 PER. I think he's got talent, I'm excited to see his improvement, but since the Bulls are legitimately a contender for the 3-seed, I don't think it makes much sense to play Snell. Jimmer, in my opinion, should be on the court with Kurt a lot, with Kurt playing the two guard spot more often (therefore, Jimmy's minutes can get down to a respectable level). How about a rotation something like this (starters in bold):
G Hinrich 24 MPG
G/F Butler 36 MPG
SF Dunleavy 34 MPG
PF Boozer 24 MPG
C Noah 36 MPG
PG The Jimmer 20 MPG
PG Augustin 30 MPG
F/C Gibson 36 MPG
Of course, Kurt will fall down a well, Jimmy will suffer some overuse injury, etc, so then Snell and Jimmer could play more minutes. But this seems like a pretty solid rotation that will give Jimmer a chance to add offensive value while being hidden defensively, hopefully sharing the court with Kurt, Jimmy, Taj, and Joakim for the majority of his minutes.
The Jimmer's got offensive talent. No, he will never be a great ball-handler or an amazing distributor. But Jimmer has one unique skill that is increasingly important in today's NBA: long-range shooting. In fact, he's got Jimmer range. If Jimmer can become a passable defensive player (Kyle Korver did it!), I see no reason why he can't have an NBA career similar to Steve Kerr. Jimmer will probably never be a starter (he definitely won't be on the Bulls), but there is value to his skill set, and its a skill that the Bulls desperately need. Jimmer has proven in his short NBA career that, given minutes, he can add offensive value. He is an elite shooter. I don't know what Jimmer's long-term future with the Bulls is given Derrick's return next season, but I'm sure going to enjoy my favorite college player ever playing on my favorite NBA team. The Jimmer has arrived.
Jimmer Fredette Destroys Gonzaga (NCAA) (via BYUlegacy)