The Jimmer Fredette in the NBA debate rages on

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Want to start a fight in a room full of NBA scouts? All you need are two words:

Jimmer Fredette.

The BYU scoring machine divides them (like it seems to divide the commenters on this site). There are those that think he can be another Stephen Curry at the NBA level. There are those that think he will be the latest in a line of big-time scoring college players who flame out in the NBA, a proud lineage that stretched back through Adam Morrison to seeming eternity.

Count ESPN’s David Thorpe (a friend of this blog) in the camp of those not sold, as he wrote on the site Friday.

Fredette plays like a gym rat, with terrific ball skills and outstanding shot-creation moves. It’s clear he’s played thousands of hours of basketball. But to play as effectively as he has, a player must have the green light at all times. Watching him take so many bad shots in situations when he’s well guarded, we know he has the permission of the coaches and teammates, which must give him both confidence and a narrow focus. In the NBA, however, he won’t have anything close to that permission, at least not for many years. Adam Morrison suffered from this problem, and even in his rookie season he showed that scoring points inefficiently is not how to earn trust from coaches and teammates…

This is the problem with Fredette’s NBA future: It’s hard to imagine he’ll be able to play in the same manner he does now. But if he’s allowed to play like Jamal Crawford or Jason Terry, I could see him shooting a decent percentage and being capable of numerous big scoring nights off the bench.

Last season, Marcus Thornton was allowed to play that role, and on a bad team he excelled. This year the Hornets are strong, and Thornton’s role has lessened, as have his privileges as a shooter. He has to be more accountable now and, consequently, is less effective.

Which brings us back to what I think will be the two keys to Fredette making it in the NBA.

First, his mental ability to adjust. Fredette’s game is nothing like Morrison’s or J.J. Redick’s, but with those two you see the mental ability to adjust to the NBA game on display. Redick couldn’t defend when he got in the league, but he worked like a madman to put on some muscle and learn how to defend at the next level. He figured out how to fit his offensive game in a system. In the flip side, when Morrison was with the Lakers his teammates talked about how he could knock down shots like mad in practice, but his inability to defend or be efficient when he got limited chances killed him in the NBA.

Second, is fit. Whatever team drafts Fredette has to be one that will give him the room to improvise and take some bad shots. A team that can hide him on defense for a while.

Let’s put it this way — on Utah or Boston or San Antonio Fredette is never going to get off the bench. Not completely because of the talent in front of him but because he will struggle to fit in as a cog in a highly structured offense. Put him on Golden State or Phoenix or somewhere with more improvisation in the offense and he stands a chance.

But in the end, it will be in Fredette. Can he adjust mentally? Can he hone enough defensive skills to get himself on the court consistently? Does he have the toughness and work ethic to make it happen?

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

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The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!

Luc Mbah a Moute sets modern record at +57 in Rockets’ win over Nuggets

AP Foto/Eric Christian Smith
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Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.

He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.

That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.

In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.

Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.

Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:

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Did Russell Westbrook get mad at Steven Adams for not taking potential triple-double-clinching shot? (video)

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Russell Westbrook chases triple-doubles.

That hardly makes him unique. He’s just close enough to the feat more often than other players, so he chases them more often.

But he still chases them.

Late in the Thunder’s 108-91 win over the Warriors last night, Westbrook was heading toward his final line of 34 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. His teammates shot off his passes on three of Oklahoma City’s final four possessions before he took a seat (including one assist). The exception came when he passed to Steven Adams, who passed rather than shoot – clearly upsetting Westbrook.

Was Westbrook mad because he missed his chance at a triple-double? Maybe.

Was Westbrook mad because Adams passed as the shot clock neared expiration? Maybe.

It could be both!

Watch Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry on Golden State’s bench. They clearly found something funny.

Report: Teams are calling Clippers about DeAndre Jordan trades

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Injuries have ravaged the Clippers. They started the season 4-0 have been without three starters from opening night: Milos Teodosic (plantar fascia injury, he is still in a walking boot), Danilo Gallinari (strained left glute), and now point guard Patrick Beverley is out for the season after microfracture surgery on his knee.

All this has led to the Clippers losing nine in a row before beating the Hawks Friday night. All the weight of the offense has fallen on Blake Griffin‘s shoulders, and while he’s been good most of the game in the fourth quarter his numbers have plummeted, and the Clippers have stumbled.

It’s left the Clippers with a couple of hard questions.

Do they need a coaching change? There was a sense from sources around the league that Rivers is already on his way out — he was stripped of GM/president powers over the summer — and what kept him around was the couple of seasons at $10 million a year on his contract. That’s a lot of money for an owner to eat, even Steve Ballmer, but the time may be coming as a way to shake up the team.

The other, what to do with DeAndre Jordan? They could not work out a contract extension with him (Jordan was acting as his own agent), and one of the league’s top traditional centers is a free agent next summer, but new head basketball guy Lawrence Frank said they want Jordan to be a “Clipper for life.” Does Jordan want to be a Clipper for life? Do the Clippers really want him back, and if so at what price? Does a Clipper franchise trying to get approvals for a new arena in Inglewood want to rebuild now, because it does not help that process? If it’s time to move on and rebuild, do they need to trade him now?

Teams are calling about Jordan, reports Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post.

DeAndre Jordan, who can become a free agent after the season, has been coming up in trade conversations, with multiple teams talking potential trades. Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank said last month that Jordan will be a “Clipper for life,” muddled matters, as does the limited number of teams who need a center and the size of Jordan’s contract ($22.6 million).

Jordan is an All-NBA center, a defensive force in the paint who sets a strong pick, rolls hard to the rim, can finish with the best of them, and is averaging 10.4 points (scoring and attempts are down without Chris Paul feeding him) and 13.4 rebounds a game. Jordan knows who he is and plays within himself.

It’s not hard to imagine how he could help teams such as Cleveland, Washington, Milwaukee, and a host of others. The question is what would teams be willing to give up to get him — they have to send back salary to match, but will not want to give up assets that help them win now. The Clippers will be looking for good young players and picks back in the package, which makes it hard for a team such as Cleveland to put together a package.

But before they discuss trade scenarios, the Clippers need to figure out what they want to do. Life has come at them fast this season and led to a lot of big-picture questions that Frank and Ballmer need to answer.