2011-12 Sacramento Kings in Review: Jimmer Fredette
If I had to come up with one word to describe Jimmer?
Strangely enough, Jimmer the person is anything but. He is a mature, confident, articulate young man who is extremely media savvy.
But Jimmer is a lightning rod for fans. You either see no faults or you dislike everything about the kid – from his Spalding sneakers to his Elvis-like following. There is no happy medium and that makes life very tough for a young NBA player.
This guy can shoot. I know this because I have seen footage of him in college and I have watched him in practice and warm-ups. As far as what he produced on the floor in his rookie season, I’m not sure that we really know anything definitive yet about young Mr. Fredette as an NBA player.
Similar to Isaiah Thomas, Jimmer’s shot pattern looks like someone dropped a bucket of paint from a moving airplane. So lets start with what is working well and move backwards. Jimmer is extremely effective from the corner three and more than competent from the elbow three. Overall, he shot 36 percent from 3-point range, which will earn him minutes on most teams.
As the season wore on, Jimmer added a nice baseline jumper and the late season addition of Terrence Williams really opened things up on the perimeter for him. Unfortunately, the addition of Williams also showed us that Jimmer is probably best suited for a role as a long-distance set shooter.
While his assist numbers don’t jump out at you, Jimmer is a very high IQ player who can make just about every pass. He is a hard worker and dedicated to improving, but that means either starting over and restructuring his game as a point guard or accepting a lesser role as a scorer off the bench.
This is going to get rough so bear with me.
While he has promise as a number one guard, the stats aren’t in his favor. Jimmer had a usage rate of 20.4 percent, which was slightly higher than that of fellow rookie Isaiah Thomas. While Thomas finished with an assist rate of 25.6, Jimmer mustered a 15.1 percent assist rate, ranking him fourth on his team. If Thomas has work to do to prove he is a legitimate pass-first point guard, what does that say about Jimmer? I think you can say that a 3.1/2.2 assist to turnover rate per 36 minutes isn’t going to cut it.
Early in the season, he struggled with leaving his feet and making jump passes. He worked hard to rectify this bad habit, but this is an issue that he will have to continue to concentrate on over the summer. Too often Jimmer either picked up his dribble, panicked against the double-team or lost the ball to a help defender. The Kings coaching staff did its best to keep Jimmer out of these situations, but that meant taking the ball out of his hands and playing him with John Salmons or Terrence Williams running point forward. If Jimmer hopes to be a legitimate point guard at the NBA level, it is going to take a tremendous amount of work and even then, it’s a stretch.
If Jimmer isn’t a point guard, then he needs to find his way on the court as a scorer. Unfortunately, he came to a team with a number of high-usage players, like Thomas, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, DeMarcus Cousins, so getting isolation plays run for him just isn’t going to happen. That means he needs to improve his play off-the-ball.
Jimmer fans may fight me on this, but he is not a great catch-and-shoot player. He needs to speed up his delivery to match the NBA game and he needs to learn how to draw fouls at a higher rate. Developing a floater in the key is also a must. While Jimmer hit for 58.5 percent (38-for-65) at the basket, that number drops to just 24.2 percent (16-for-66) in the lane.
On the defensive end, we have even more problems. I guess the good news is that Jimmer is active and in most situations, he hangs tough as an isolation defender. He closes out strong and gives a good show against jump shots.
Where Jimmer gets into trouble defensively is when he has a player in space. Be it on the break or when an opponent gives him a bull-rush, he struggles. On the break, Jimmer needs to beat his opponent to a spot or commit a solid foul before his man gets close enough to the rim. Running down court and half-heartedly getting in the way before bailing out is not going to cut it.
In the Kings’ half court defense, Jimmer needs to know that he’ll likely have no help defender behind him. Releasing his man to the hoop is unacceptable and I would hate to sit through a film session and watch a lot of these plays a second or third time. The Kings don’t have Serge Ibaka protecting the rim, so play accordingly.
This is a tough critique, I know. But as the saying goes, figures don’t lie, liars figure. We are talking about a player that finished the season with a player efficiency rating of 10.8, good enough for 324th place in the NBA.
Where does Jimmer go from here? I’m not sure. But he needs to choose a path, one of two or three that are laid out in from of him and concentrate on being the best player possible for that path.
I have said this a number of times, but I really do feel like Jimmer was hurt more by the lockout than almost any other player. He needed summer league and an extended training camp to figure out where he fits in the NBA. The Kings needed this time as well, to assess what exactly they had in him.
With a limited training camp, an impacted season, a coaching change and little to no practice time the entire season, I’m not sure that either the Kings or Jimmer still have an idea of where they are going. This offseason is incredibly important for his development. He has a lot on his plate this summer, including his pending nuptials. But he is a fighter and I expect him to learn from his rookie season and come back a different player.