The Phoenix Suns have the 13th pick in the NBA draft and the name most often tied to the Suns selection is James Taft ‘Jimmer’ Fredette of BYU. Fredette led the Cougars as their all-everything point guard and as the season progressed ‘Jimmermania’ swept the land.
Fredette consistently scored in the high 30’s and mid 40’s in the face of double and triple teams. He led the nation in scoring and led BYU’s high scoring offense to seventh in the nation. At the end of the season, the guard was crowned as the unanimous Player of the Year in addition to winning several other prestigious player of the year titles like Wooden Award, Naismith trophy and Adolph Rupp trophy among others.
However, talk to any sports host in the Valley and no one wants the Suns to touch the now former BYU product with a 10-foot pole.
There are many knocks against Fredette, which is why he’s being projected as low as 19th in the draft. Some of the claims may be sound while others are more biased and awash in speculation and accepted as truth. Let’s take a look at what the ‘experts’ are saying.
1. He doesn’t play a lick of defense. Fredette’s value doesn’t come on defense, it comes with what he does with the ball in his hands. In the college game, its hard to knock a player for defense when most college teams play zone for most of the game. In the NBA, defense is tailored more to the individuals skills, which is part of determining if you fit better as a starter or coming off the bench. Defense can and will be taught on whatever team he lands with.
2. He is lacking in the athleticism department. Tell that to the teams he scorched for 30 a night. Fredette was the best in the country at creating his own shot, fighting off double and triple teams to get the job done. He will not be entering the slam dunk contest anytime soon, but he can score from anywhere on the floor. Questions of his speed and lateral movement may be better cannon fodder for the naysayers. There are blazing quick point guards in the NBA, especially at the point guard position. Will Fredette be able to keep those guys in front of him? Its the best question out there and we will be looking forward to the answer.
3. He had inferior competition compared to the players projected in front of him. Part of that statement is true. The Mountain West Conference isn’t as big, deep and talent rich as the ACC, Big East or the other big time conferences. Does that mean Fredette would not have won the scoring title this year? He turned heads by scoring 49 on the road against Arizona. Fredette led BYU to a season sweep against San Diego State, a team that was undefeated until crossing the shooter’s path path. BYU beat nationally ranked UNLV twice by double digits on the way to a 32-5 record. BYU finished in the sweet sixteen of the NCAA tournament before losing to Florida in overtime.
4. He can’t play point guard in the NBA. Coming to BYU, the now 22-year-old was a shooting guard who was moved to the point. He has had to learn how to play point guard on the move and while he may not be the point guard poster boy, the NBA is moving to point guard who shoot first, pass second. Look at Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams. The NBA is moving from the old guard that looks to pass first, second then shoot as the third option. Only Jason Kidd and Steve Nash remain to represent the old guard. This is the way of the future so maybe Mr. Fredette is entering the league at just the right time.
Why should the Suns draft him?
1. He is the best shooter on the floor. Until he steps on the floor across from Nash, no player on the floor will be a better shooter. Fredette has shown he can create his own shot, drain the three effortlessly and he knows how to finish. He fits right into the Suns offensive style which is run and gun, shoot the three and get transition baskets, wearing down the opposition.
2. He puts fannies in the seats. After playing at BYU, Fredette would be a boom for ticket sales as his following will travel to Phoenix. As his star rose to new heights last season, he made believers of those of us who had never heard of him until last season and those new fans will flock to see him. He is the clean cut All-American boy, who will be easy to get behind. As a four-year player, he is a rare breed in this age of one-and-done college stars. Fredette will enter the NBA more polished than the guys drafted ahead of him. The other names may be able to run faster or jump higher but this guy is a more complete package.
3. Their will be no more discussion to who Nash’s heir apparent will be. With the jury still out on Zabian Dowdell and Aaron Brooks the discussion will be over on who will have the keys to the kingdom when Nash retires. This is the perfect team and system for Fredette and his arrival allows the Suns flexibility with their roster. Phoenix could trade or release players, freeing cap space and finally filling the void at the power forward slot.
4. He would learn to play point from Nash. Who better to teach the finer points of being a successful NBA point guard than the best pure point guard in the game? Nash and Fredette are almost exactly the same size and weight. Nash is an inch taller and Fredette carries a little more bulk. They can both shoot the lights out. Two years learning from Nash will make him an All-Star.
Don’t look now haters, but Fredete is in town to work out for the Suns. He also will be working out for the Knicks, Pacers, Kings and the Jazz. Utah will be the team ahead of the Suns most likely to draft Fredette. The move would keep a Mormon kidd in Utah, closer to his home and family and his loyal fan base.
The new question of the day is would the Suns move up to draft Fredette ahead of Utah? The Suns typically don’t do much in the draft, but trading for the guard is not out of the realm of possibility.
We know what the talking heads think. I pose the question to you Suns fans, if Fredette is still on the board by the 10th or 11th pick and Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker are gone (that’s the consensus but stranger things have happened), would you trade up to snatch Fredette before Utah?
Utah has the third pick and the 12th pick. If they take Walker or Brandon Knight, they probably do not use their their second pick on Fredette. If they go big man, its more likely they will be looking to draft Fredette at 12. The Suns only have one draft pick this year so they need to make it count unless they find themselves in a similar situation next season.
This writer says take Fredette and go home happy. What would you do?