Are Jimmer Fredette’s defensive issues a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Jimmer:Lillard

When you have watched every single game in a player’s career, it is difficult to remain objective. You see improvements here and there, as well as regressions, but it’s a little bit like watching your children grow.  They seem much bigger when you haven’t seen them for a day or two.

During the Sacramento Kings’ utter destruction of the Charlotte Bobcats on Sunday, I had the chance to sit with an advanced scout for one of Sacramento’s upcoming opponents and his outsider view of Jimmer Fredette was both incredibly alarming and insightful.

It seems that Jimmer has a big red target on his back. Opposing teams believe he is a weak-link on defense and they gameplan to attack him on that end of the floor. Whether he is in fact a poor defender or not is irrelevant – he is being attacked as if he is.

“It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” the scout told Cowbell Kingdom.

When a player like Jeff Taylor of the Bobcats thinks he has a major advantage over you, he becomes more aggressive on the offensive end. If a third or fourth tier NBA player thinks he has a green light to go at you, what does the rest of the league think?

“You have to be the guy that’s going to be the aggressor and not allow a guy to attack you,” coach Keith Smart said of Jimmer before Tuesday night’s game against the Nuggets.  “I think sometimes when you’re on your heels, that’s when you’re vulnerable and sometimes he has been on his heels.”

After looking at the stats, the scout is right. Jimmer may not be a bad defender, but he needs to be a great defender or teams are going to continue to go at him.

According to mySynergySports, Jimmer allows .96 points per possession (PPP) as a defender, which ranks him No. 357 in the league. That is not good.

Opponents shoot 41.4 percent overall against Jimmer, but 39.3 percent from long range again is a problem. As an isolation defender, he ranks 244th in the league, allowing one PPP.  And against the spot-up, Jimmer allows his opponent to score 1.21 PPP from behind the arc and shoot 43.6 percent.

Isolation and spot-up opportunities make up 45.9 percent of his defensive chances and he is not performing well under these statistics. But he isn’t a complete loss on that end of the floor.

As a pick-and-roll defender, which makes up 30 percent of his chances, Jimmer allows just .81 PPP and his opponents shoot just 38.3 percent from the field.

Jimmer:BatumHe has similar success defending off screens and hand-offs, which shows that Jimmer is playing solid defense in multiplayer sets.

Where Jimmer struggles is in space. He struggles in one-on-one situations where his lack of elite lateral quickness and athleticism leave him on an island. And let’s be honest, his Kings teammates aren’t exactly helpful in this area as well.

“He’s playing against speed players every night,” Smart said.  “These guys are quick to beat anyone off the dribble and that’s what he’s going to face most nights in the NBA.”

Jimmer is developing, but he is a player that might find greater success on a team with a true defensive stopper in the middle. He can hang as a team defender, but the Kings consistently leave the lane wide open for the taking, which further exposes Jimmer’s biggest weakness.

While better help defense would be better, Jimmer needs to continue to improve, especially when defending the perimeter. If not, he will continue to have opposing teams go into attack mode every time he steps on the floor.

After doing the analysis, I concur with the scout’s assessment. Jimmer has a target on his back. While it may or may not be deserved, opposing teams anxiously await their chance to go at the former college player of the year. Under the current roster structure, the Kings just aren’t equipped to mask his weaknesses.

What does all of this mean? It means that until he and his teammates improve dramatically on defense, Jimmer better be really good on the offensive end or expect a very quick hook.

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About: James Ham

James Ham provides coverage through news analysis and in-depth interviews with Kings players and staff. James is also one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary "Small Market, Big Heart". James graduated UC Davis with a degree in history and is happily married with two children.