Kurt Helin

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers

What happened to Jimmer Fredette in the NBA?

11 Comments

There was no more divisive, controversial figure in the 2011 NBA draft than Jimmer Fredette.

Scouts were split on Fredette and how he’d fit in the NBA. There was no question the man could shoot the rock, but in college the offense was geared toward him with the ball in his hands, plus his defensive problems were not exploited. The question was whether a GM thought he could adapt his game to the NBA where he would have to work more in a system. The Kings believed he could, they traded down to get him at No. 10 — ahead of Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, and Markieff Morris.

But after four unimpressive seasons in the NBA, his career seems to be over for now after being cut by the Spurs this week. Fredette likely is headed to Europe or somewhere else, but for now his NBA career is over.

What happened? Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports spoke to scouts and his former coaches and got a frank assessment of a guy not willing to adapt his game.

“Jimmer thinks everybody is stupid,” said an NBA assistant who worked with Fredette. “He thinks everybody needs to come and just turn over their offense and let him shoot it anytime he wants. That’s not how the league works….”

“He won’t adjust his game for it,” he said. “He’ll tell you, ‘This is what I did at BYU.’ Well, BYU, that’s a long time ago.”

 

This happens to good players in every professional sport. They are used to being huge stars — the best player on their high school team, their AAU team, and likely their college team, and everything was geared around them and their skills. Then they get to the NBA and they need to accept life as a role player and cannot. They are convinced that what worked so well before will continue to work, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Fredette (and the cult of Jimmer fans) thought he was a Stephen Curry style point guard who could score and run the offense, just nobody ever gave him that chance. The reality is he simply not good enough to do that at the NBA level — he doesn’t have the playmaking skills, he doesn’t have the athleticism. However, the bigger issue was always defense. The last couple seasons, when he would enter the game the opposing point guard’s eyes would light up — teams ran sets to go right at Fredette because he couldn’t stay in front of anyone. It was that defense that kept him off the court more than anything in New Orleans last season, a team that was in desperate need of point guard help.

Fredette needed to adapt his game, and the comp everyone around the league seemed to use was J.J. Redick, now with the Clippers.

“J.J. is a good example for him,” one of his NBA coaches said. “He had done a lot of prolific scoring in college, but came in and eventually figured out the NBA. He changed his body. He learned the league. He’s had a hell of a career, but it wasn’t easy for him early on.”

 

It took Redick almost five seasons in the league to adapt his game to the point he was a valuable contributor (now on a contending team, where his shooting is key to the Clippers spacing). He’s talked many times about those challenges. And let’s not forget, Redick is two inches taller and a better athlete than Fredette ever was.

If Fredette goes to Europe, maybe he can find his stroke and a way to fit into a team that will someday allow him to come back to the NBA and contribute. Maybe. The question is does he want to make that kind of commitment and change?

Finally finished, Tristan Thompson’s deal works for everyone

Tristan Thompson
3 Comments

It was one of LeBron James‘ issues with the management in Miami — that was a team in a title window, yet they moved Mike Miller to save money against the league’s luxury tax. This was a potentially valuable role player just gone to save money. LeBron wants management to spend when you’ve got a chance to win — and the leverage to make it happen.

Dan Gilbert learned that lesson and he is spending. Big. Like Jay-Z buying champagne — he’s not just buying the bottle, he bought the company — Dan Gilbert is not holding back.

The Cavaliers and Tristan Thompson reached an agreement on a five-year, $82 million deal on Wednesday. Why this took so long is beyond anyone — $80 million had been on the table for months, Thompson and his agent Rich Paul wanted a max but not only did the Cavaliers balk so did any team that could sign Thompson to an offer sheet. The market wasn’t there, it might well not be there next summer either. That left Thompson out in the cold. The Cavaliers could have played hardball after Thompson didn’t sign his qualifying offer, all his leverage was gone. Instead, the Cavaliers tacked on $2 million to the deal as a face-saving measure and it got done.

This is a good deal for both sides. Win-win, if you want the cliché.

For Thompson, he gets PAID. He gets security — five years of as much money as the market would bear. Money that sets his family up for generations. There is certainly no guarantee he would have made more on the open market next year, he’s more valuable to the Cavaliers than most teams. Plus, Thompson gets to play on a contender next to LeBron. If he wanted out, Thompson would have signed the qualifying offer. He didn’t. It ended up being an overly dramatic holdout situation for him, but this was as good a deal as he was going to get. Take the money.

Did the Cavaliers overpay for a guy who comes off the bench and is not an elite scorer? Yes. (Although to qualify that, bigs in the NBA get paid more, basic supply and demand.) Did the Cavaliers dish out nearly $200 million in five-year contracts for the power forward position this summer when you consider the Kevin Love max deal? Yes, they did.

And it was the right thing to do.

When you’re in a championship window, you spend. Make no mistake the Cavaliers did — their luxury tax bill jumped $42.6 million this season thanks to the Thompson deal. The Cavs tax bill now stands at $58.2 million, and only $14.6 million of that is Thompson’s salary, according to former Nets executive and current NBA Twitter star Bobby Marks. Remember, that tax is on top of the $108.6 million in salary already being paid by Dan Gilbert.

Be glad it’s not your money.

And if you’re a Cavaliers fan, be glad he’s willing to spend it.

Thompson gives the Cavaliers a quality player up front who — as we saw in the NBA Finals — other teams struggle to match up against. He’s an elite offensive rebounder who puts up his points efficiently, he’s strong as a roll man who can finish after setting a pick, he’s a solid but not great defender (he’s not a classic rim protector), and he gives you hustle and grit every time on the court. Paired with a good ball handler and scorer — Kyrie Irving, Mo Williams — Thompson has a real offensive role.

It’s the kind of role the Cavaliers need filled if they are going to bring the first title in any pro sport to Cleveland in 51 years. The Cavaliers enter the season as one of a handful of teams with a legit shot to win it all (they are my pick), and when you’re in that championship window you spend. Even if you have to overpay a little to get a role player.

That’s why this deal works for both sides. Thompson gets paid; the Cavaliers get a guy who is not going to win Sixth Man of the Year but can fill that role for them. It’s as win-win as an overpriced contract can get.

 

 

Jeff Green gets up to dunk, Kyle Korver can’t slow him (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

While consistency remains his nemesis, there has never been a doubt that Jeff Green has talent and shows it in flashes.

Such as this dunk against the Hawks on Wednesday. Paul Millsap is matched up on Green, so Green wisely takes a step back to receive the ball out beyond the three-point arc where his speed is a huge advantage. Green blows right by Paul Millsap and the only guy to rotate over is Kyle Korver.

This doesn’t end well for Korver.

The Grizzlies went on to win the game, 82-81.

Anthony Davis drops 33 points, 16 boards on Magic (VIDEO)

1 Comment

Somebody is in midseason form.

Anthony Davis looked like a guy ready to lead a playoff team when the season tips off next week, dropping 33 points and 16 rebounds on Orlando Wednesday night. Davis was far from perfect, he shot just 8-of-24 on the night, but he got to the line 19 times — he forced overtime hitting two free throws — and was the best player on the court in his 41 minutes.

It wasn’t enough, the Magic beat the Pelicans 110-107 in overtime. Nikola Vucevic led Orlando scoring 24 points.

Al Jefferson says with shooting around him he will bounce back

Al Jefferson DeAndre Jordan
Leave a comment

Just like everything else around the Charlotte Hornets, Al Jefferson was not as good last season as he had been the season before.

His knee issues led to a regression on the defensive end (or a return to the norm, if you didn’t buy the 2014 season). His shooting percentages slumped as well, particularly inside 10 feet where he got 64 percent of his looks (he shot 63.9 percent inside three feet and 44.5 percent from three to 10 feet, both down from the season before). This was one of the reasons the Hornets fell out of the playoffs.

Jefferson told Adi Joseph at the Sporting News the real problem last season was the lack of floor-spacing shooting around him.

“I think people don’t realize, 3-point shooting is what makes me who I am,” Jefferson says in that same training camp interview. “Last year, we didn’t have 3-point shooting. That’s why guys were able to sit down on me. I didn’t have it. Now we have guys who can spread the floor and make shots. Teams have to pick and choose their spots. You double me, bang — we’ve got an open shot. So having shooters around is music to my ears. That’s what lets me do what I do best.”

 

The Hornets went out and got Nicolas Batum and Jeremy Lin, both of whom will see heavy minutes on the wing and can knock down the three. Along with a healthy Kemba Walker, the floor should be better spaced for Jefferson, who has dropped weight and should bounce back to being devastating with his old-school game when he gets the ball on the left block. The Hornets should be scoring at an improved pace this season.

The question is what their formerly-solid defense will look like without the injured Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.