By Bjorn Zetterberg of SwishScout.com Twitter: @BJayZ20The NCAA’s leading scorer this season is the talk of the College Basketball World. Jimmer Fredette has lit up the competition for the BYU Cougars and has them poised to make a serious run in the NCAA Tournament this season. The star of Provo has clearly set himself apart as an All-American, but does he have what it takes to make it in the NBA. There are some who doubt his abilities at the next level, but also some who love it. That said, SwishScout.com presents “Jimmer Fredette: Is the BYU Star a Legit NBA Draft Prospect?” The Good: JumperJimmer has one of the sweetest strokes in the college game today. His quick release and excellent mechanics allow for great consistency and shooting percentage (47.6% from the field). He also has solid shooting touch, and can step in and hit the midrange when he needs.
The Good: 3-Point ShootingWith seemingly unlimited range, Fredette has to be guarded from about 30 feet and in. He is not shy about letting it fly a few feet from behind the line, and has been spot on from distance this year. He is hitting 41% of his attempts as a senior, and converted an excellent 44% as a junior last year.
The Good: CraftinessIn the first round of last years 2010 NCAA Tournament, Jimmer displayed fantastic scoring prowess on the way to getting 37 points in a Double OT win over Florida in the first round. Jimmer bobbed and weaved around the basket, using his excellent awareness and timing to get off shots among bigger defenders. With his great basketball IQ, he used some old school moves and maneuvers that entertained basketball fans with his crafty play.
The Good: Scorer’s MentalityFredette is one of the few players in the nation capable of burning a team for 40 points on any given night.With the ball in his hands, he can really get hot in a hurry. No matter the moment in the game, he is one of the most cool and composed players on the court. You can trust him with the ball down the stretch, and count on him to make crucial buckets. He is currently leading the NCAA in scoring with 26.7 points per game.
The Good: StyleEffort, energy, toughness, hustle and motor could all describe how the feisty guard likes to play. With his compact build and solid upper body strength, he can muscle his way into the lane and absorb contact. BYU Coach Dave Rose can always count on 100% effort from Jimmer every game, never doubting his ability to get involved and make an impact. He’s also an underrated passer who has averaged over four assist over his past three seasons, so there is some distributing ability in there as well.
The Good: Creating AbilityA smooth crossover and crisp handling ability is sure to give defenders fits. Fredette frequently uses his ball skills to break down the defense and create separation for a jump shot. He has a great ability to utilize hesitation and blow by the defender when they play up on him. Jimmer’s favorite move on the perimeter is a quick crossover for an easy pull up jumper in the face of the defense.
The Bad: UndersizedAt only 6’2”, Jimmer is a few inches under the ideal size for an NBA shooting guard. There is concern over whether he will be able to get shots off or even be able to defend his position because of this size difference. However, the track record of smaller NBA scoring guards (Monta Ellis, Jason Terry, Ben Gordon) having success, despite the vertical deficit, bode well for Fredette.
The Bad: Shot SelectionIt’s not unusual to see him launch a questionable look with the defense in his face well beyond the 3-point line. While he might be able to get away with this in the NCAA, there’s no way he stays in the game if he does this in the league. While it might be tempting to take a heat check attempt, Jimmer can’t get too overconfident to take some errant shots.
The Bad: Volume ShooterThis season, Jimmer is attempting nearly 19 shots per game. He is a player that thrives with the ball in his hands, so it will be interesting to see how he adapts without it and if he becomes more of a shooter. Clearly he won’t be getting that many looks per game, nor will he likely have to green light to attempt eight 3’s per game.
The Bad: AthleticismIt won’t be very hard confuse the athleticism of Fredette for that of John Wall, Derrick Rose, or Dwayne Wade. While he doesn’t have impressive athleticism of foot speed, he isn’t bad; but relative to NBA competition, he is decent at best. Watching his lateral quickness, it wouldn’t be unusual to see him get taken off the dribble or have trouble with his man in the NBA. The Bad: Getting To The BasketNot doubting his ability to create or make plays off the dribble, but Fredette will find it significantly harder to get to the rack versus an NBA defender than the traditional Mountain West D he’s roasting now. He still possesses the quickness and ability to create separation and get a shot off from the perimeter, but could struggle to penetrate or attack NBA defenses. Because of this, defenses might be able to limit his effectiveness to being a shooter, where he can become fairly one-dimensional.
The VerdictJimmer Fredette reminds me of a less athletic Ben Gordon when projecting his style to the league. Ben Gordon has made his mark in the NBA with his perimeter jumper and ability to create space for shots, something I can see Fredette doing as well. I don’t see him being only a shooter, because the nature of his game is so daring and he’s willing to take risks. With his skills and shooting ability, he will get time and opportunity from an NBA team that is willing to explore his talents. He probably won’t be a starter, at least his first few years on a roster, but like him coming off the bench as a spark plug and shot maker. I think he could make a great 6th man, much like Gordon did for the Bulls a couple years ago. Projection:His draft stock is currently hovering between the late first-early second. With him averaging close to 27 points, a veteran team near the end of the first round will like his scoring burst. ESPN’s Tim Legler had a pretty good take on the situation, and I expect his stock to rise well into June as the Draft approaches, as his talent should intrigue.He currently ranks 33rd on the SwishScout.com 2011 NBA Draft Board, but we expect him to be chosen between picks 24-30 in the first round. So is the BYU Star a legit NBA Prospect? Yes indeed.