2011 NBA Draft: Defense, Tenacity Biggest Issues Facing BYU's Jimmer Fredette

Any team considering Jimmer Fredette should realize that they will receive an instant bonus the moment his name is read from the podium at the 2011 NBA Draft. After all, the star quality and high profile of the former BYU point guard and college basketball’s greatest scorer last season is sky high. Thus, the instant buzz, spotlight and ticket sales should reap benefits. But what about the long-term gains? Will the team that chooses Jimmer only enjoy an immediate bounty? Or will his game translate well enough to the pro level.

One thing is clear is that Fredette’s stock keeps rising. He’s reportedly nailing his interviews and impressing in workouts. Yet the nagging question that comes up time and time again is the defensive issue. Chad Ford has described him as an “indifferent defender” and questions his lateral quickness. Those qualities together equal a major question mark or even obstacle toward any real opportunity to make an impact at the NBA level.

Draft Express discusses this in detail
when they discuss the major clouds over Fredette’s draft stock:

Fredette’s average, at best, athletic ability really hurts him on this end as his poor lateral quickness allows him to get beat by quicker ball handlers. Despite not having the tools to play tough defense, the most worrying thing might be his mindset on the defensive end. Fredette almost seems disinterested defensively, and this leads to poor help and poor positioning off of the basketball. Even worse, when he does get beaten by his man with the ball, he tends to give up instead of trying to recover, hoping that his help can get the job done.

Clark Kellogg, college basketball analyst for CBS, likes Fredette’s offensive prowess, but questions his tenacity for the next level. He says, “He’s got shooting range and he’s clever with the ball. I think he’s going to have a challenge trying to defend. He just hasn’t shown that pit bull quality that you would like to see at his size defensively. I think that’s going to be an issue.”

Yet the realization that it’s not as much about a lack of physical ability as it is a question of passion or initiative makes it obvious that Fredette clearly can make the impact at the next level if he wanted to. Some might question the quickness, but the tenacity is something that teams can feel better about in interviews. After all, what player didn’t have to grow up once he left the college ranks to become a professional? Perhaps it’s just about having a challenge that requires such a mindset that Kellogg is describing.

One rumor has the Sacramento Kings possibly taking Fredette if both Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight are taken. For Fredette to go that high, he’s going to have to get over any mental inconsistencies in his game fairly quickly to justify the choice. Otherwise, the Kings will have placed too much value on a solid bench scorer.

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