Projecting Jimmer Fredette, with numbers

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Jimmer Fredette was a great college player and something of a folk hero during his time at BYU, but nobody can really seem to agree on what he’ll do in the NBA. Will he be the next Mark Price? The next Steph Curry? The next B.J. Armstrong? Or the next Adam Morrison? It’s hard to say.

The latest people to try and take a crack at projecting Jimmer are Dean Oliver and Peter Newmann of ESPN Stats and Information, and their thoughts are a must-read. Here are a few excerpts:

Jimmer Fredette led the NCAA in scoring as a senior, averaging 28.9 points per game. But scoring doesn’t necessarily translate to NBA success.

Plenty of scoring leaders went on to tremendous NBA careers — Oscar Robertson and Rick Barry, to name a few — but many never made it to the league.

Fredette has been compared to Curry because both shoot from deep and neither was a clear point guard entering the NBA draft. Curry shot a little better from behind the 3-point arc, 41.2 percent to 39.4, and shot it more often. Curry was also a better overall shooter, with a 58 effective field goal percentage in college while Fredette was at 54 percent.

But Curry, facing questions about his transition to the NBA, worked on being a point guard in his junior year and improved his PPR (pure point rating) from minus-2.0 to 0.0. Fredette’s PPR actually dropped his senior year, from 1.1 to minus-1.8.

And as a freshman, Curry was dominant, scoring 21.5 points per game, while shooting 40.8 percent on 3-pointers on a team that went 29-5. Fredette played 18.5 minutes per game and scored 7.0 points per game (fifth on BYU) on a 27-8 team. Curry burst onto the national scene as a 19-year-old freshman. A lot of scouts didn’t pay much attention to Fredette until he was a 21-year-old junior. This leaves little reason to believe Fredette can be as good as Curry in the NBA.

Superficially, Fredette’s scoring volume has inflated his value to the point where he may be a lottery pick. His ceiling is lower than others because of his age, and his ability to develop into a passer is in question. When evaluating the entire package, Fredette projects better to the NBA as a late first-round or early second-round pick, given his one specialty skill. That way, he can begin to carve out a career as a designated shooter, with a chance to improve his overall game.

Word is that Fredette has been impressing teams in workouts with both his passing and his defense, but Oliver and Newmann are right — based on what he showed in college, Fredette will need to seriously overhaul his game to be successful in the NBA. Almost everyone agrees that he will try to do exactly that, but at this point nobody can be sure exactly how well adjusting from firing up off-the-dribble jumpers at will and not being asked to play a lick of defense to trying to run an offense and knock down open threes will work out for Jimmer.

NBA reacts to Suns’ Devin Booker dropping 70 on Celtics

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Devin Booker was the story of the NBA Friday night.

The 20-year-old Suns’ guard — who never scored more than 19 points in a game at Kentucky in college — dropped 70 on the Boston Celtics in a losing effort. He becomes only the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 70 in a game. At the end the Suns were fouling and calling time outs to stop the clock and get the ball back to Booker, but as Phoenix coach Earl Watson said to those who complained, “You got a problem with that? Do something. Simple as that.”

NBA Twitter exploded at what Booker did.

Booker himself responded this way.

Lonzo Ball makes expected official, declares for NBA Draft

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There was no hesitation. None was expected.

After UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 by Kentucky, the Bruin’s Lonzo Ball — who is expected to be a top-three pick — declared for the NBA draft this June.

Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.

Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.

The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.

And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.

Watch highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center

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Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”

Jerry West said he loved him like a son.

Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”

The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.

Check out the highlights above.

Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah to be suspended 20 games for violating league drug policy

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Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. Last summer, Phil Jackson took a $72 million gamble on an aging Noah that has not worked at all, and left New York with an anchor of a contract for three more seasons after this one.

Tomorrow it will be official Noah is done for this season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.

During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.

Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.

The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.

According to reports, this is not a substance banned in the new CBA that kicks in July 1, but was covered in the previous CBA. Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.

Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. The 10 games this season is no big deal for the Knicks, he wasn’t going to play anyway, but the 10 at the start of next season could sting (depending on how they plan to use him).