As a BYU alum and life-long, die-hard Cougars fan, I pulled for Jimmer Fredette throughout his entire rookie season with the Sacrament Kings. I wanted him to silence all of his doubters.
I wanted him to take the league by storm.
Yes, I gloated when The Jimmer made ESPN's Rick Reilly eat his words (or open his checkbook) for Reilly's snarky, mean-spirited article about Jimmer's impending failure in the NBA before his rookie season began.
I backed Jimmer so hard that I even watched a bunch of Sacramento Kings games on my NBA League Pass this year. (And if you don't think that's dedication, I dare you to watch DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, John Salmons, Francisco Garcia, and the rest of the Sacramento Knuckleheads, er, Kings, without swallowing a cyanide pill by halftime.)
In short, I wanted Jimmer to be great.
But with Jimmer's rookie season now in the books, I'm conflicted about what to think about his performance this year.
Jimmer was not great - like I had hoped he would be - but he was far from a bust as well.
Jimmer showed enough as a rookie in 2012 that I am confident he will have a good NBA career, but I was hoping with one season in the books we would be looking at a future All-Star. That seems unlikely as well.
That said, here is my analysis as a BYU fan of the good and bad from The Jimmer's debut season:
The Good News: 3-Point Shooting
Before getting too lost in the statistics, let's first remember the two primary reasons Jimmer was drafted were to score and to extend defenses with his 3-point shooting. In this respect Jimmer had a successful rookie campaign, finishing fourth among all NBA rookies in 3-point field goals in 2012 (data here):
Rookie 3-PT FG Leaders:
1. Klay Thompson, GSW - 111
2. Brandon Knight, DET - 105
3. Isaiah Thomas, SAC - 83
4. Jimmer Fredette, SAC - 78
5. Kyrie Irving, CLE - 73
Jimmer proved that he has NBA range (no surprise though) and can get off his shot from beyond the arc. Fredette's 36.1% 3-point field goal percentage is fairly average for a guard and should only improve as he becomes more familiar with his teammates and the Kings' offensive game plan (assuming, of course, the Kings actually have an offensive game plan, which is debatable.)
The Good News: Scoring
In his rookie season Jimmer Fredette also proved that he can score and get into a deadly shooting groove when he is given consistent minutes. While Jimmer's season was up-and-down in terms of playing time (everything from starting seven games to getting five DNP's), there were eight games in which he played 27+ minutes, and Jimmer put up solid numbers in those games:
Jimmer Fredette When Playing 27+ Minutes (8 Games)
14.4 PPG, 2.8 APG, 1.8 RPG, 2.8 3PT, 40% FG, 49% 3PT
In the eight games when he played starter's minutes (27+ mins), Jimmer proved he can score by averaging 14.4 points in those games.
The more important stat is this - Jimmer's 3-point shooting jumped to 49% (22 of 45) when given consistent minutes. Rhythm is key for shooters like Jimmer. When he played enough to find his rhythm, Jimmer was deadly from downtown.
Jimmer also proved he can he step up his scoring against playoff-caliber competition. His season-high 20 points and five assists came against the Memphis Grizzlies. Jimmer scored 19 against the Denver Nuggets, including 5 of 8 from the 3-point line. He scored 14 against the Chicago Bulls and 11 points in just 12 minutes against the Los Angeles Clippers, all playoff teams.
The "Okay" News: Effective Field Goal Percentage
The Jimmer Haters will argue that his 38.6% field goal percentage was embarrassingly low for a "shooter." True, 38.6% in and of itself is bad, but Jimmer's field goal percentage was weighed down by the number of 3-point shots he attempted.
In all, 48% (216 of 446) of Jimmer's field goal attempts were 3-pointers, so a better metric to use when evaluating his shooting percentage is an advanced stat called "Effective Field Goal Percentage", which adjusts for the fact that 3-pointers are worth more than 2-pointers.
According to pro-basketball-reference.com, Jimmer's Effective Field Goal Percentage was 47.3%, which is equal to Derrick Rose and better than elite scorers like Deron Williams (46.7%), Monta Ellis (46.3%), and Kobe Bryant (46.2%). This puts Jimmer's overall 38.6% field goal percentage in a more accurate light.
The Kings drafted Jimmer to shoot the three and to score. Jimmer proved this year he can do both, and he should only improve from here.
The Bad News: Free Throw Attempts
The bad news begins with Jimmer's inability to get to the free throw line. Incredibly, Jimmer Fredette attempted just 48 free throws in 61 games as a rookie. Jimmer's incredibly low number of free throw attempts is a clear indication of the difficulty he had in getting to the rim in his rookie season.
Jimmer Fredette's 2012 shot chart from pro-basketball-reference shows that Jimmer only attempted 44 shots "at the rim" as a rookie. In a season in which he played 61 games, Jimmer got to the rim less than once a game. Not good.
In order for Jimmer to become a more consistent, dynamic scorer he will need to begin attacking the rim with the tenacity he repeatedly showed while playing at BYU.
In all, Jimmer Fredette's first NBA was full of the good (3-pointers and scoring), the okay (eFG%), and the bad (inability to attack the rim.) In other words, the guy was a rookie.
I was hoping Jimmer would be great as a rookie, but in the end he was just...average.
After watching Jimmer dominate at BYU, "average" is not good enough for his NBA career. Let's hope he makes the leap in 2013.
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard BYU fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check these out articles:The Five Most Memorable Mormons in NBA History