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.