Thoughts of a Shooter… From a Shooter
by Justin Cherot
This is how you know someone is worth watching:
The day of that player’s game, you know that you have to go to work, meaning that you’re probably going to miss a portion of the game. DVR, check.
(Side note: how did I ever function without a DVR? I use it for almost every single facet of my television life, whether it’s a Maryland Terrapins’ game or The Game itself. We have a free trial right now, but will I gladly pay however much it costs to keep it in my life? Yes.)
But of course, you check the regular channels and that player’s game is not on, even though it’s clearly the best game of the night. You vent on Facebook, Twitter and to anybody at work who will listen… until someone finally tells you that it’s on an obscure channel (in this case CBS College Sports). Fine. It’s too late to DVR, but at least it’s snowing outside so we can go home early, right?
Wrong. Your place of employment had you there to the bitter end, and you got stuck in the parking lot (your “rock back and forth” motion needs work… and please get your mind out of the gutter). After finally getting out, a drive that normally takes eight and a half minutes took about 45 as you passed at least five cars entrenched in snow banks on the way. You finally got upstairs, relieved yourself after ingesting 10 gallons of Mountain Dew throughout the day, and said to yourself, “I can finally watch Jimmer Fredette.“
As I mentioned about a half hour ago, I didn’t DVR the game because I couldn’t figure out what channel the game was on, but I did catch the final ten minutes. By then Fredette already had 34 points and was shooting lights out from all over the place. But, especially this season, what else is new?
He ended up with 43 points, which is impressive in itself until you realize his BYU Cougar team only scored 71. Oh yeah, and they gave the fourth-ranked San Diego State Aztecs their first loss of the year.
College basketball’s player of the year is clearly going to come down to Fredette and UConn’s Kemba Walker, with Fredette now holding a definite edge because, at the most, the Cougars will probably lose two more games this season. Walker’s Huskies, in the deep Big East, might lose two games this week.
But awards are meaningless, right? Isn’t the biggest question how Fredette fits at the next level?
I think NBADraft.net’s analysis on him is fair: his biggest obstacle at the next level will be his lack of athleticism. That’s not to say you can’t succeed at the NBA level without being athletic: my boy Stephen Curry is a very recent example of being able to use craft instead of athleticism to succeed. Like Curry, Fredette is surprisingly adept at finishing around the rim.
But let me stop with the Curry comparisons because it’s such a cliched comparison. Yeah, they’re both from small(er) schools. Yeah, they can both shoot the lights out and get their shot off at the next level. But can Fredette run the point full-time at the next level? Can he be just a piece instead of being THE guy? Those are two things I knew from jump street that Curry would be able to do. In fact, sometimes it’s disappointing how much Steph defers.
Fredette won’t have anywhere close to the freedom he has at BYU ever again at any point in his basketball career. Those 30-footers off the dribble better go in, otherwise he might as well get used to having splinters lodged in his behind.
I can relate somewhat as a shooter. Because I’m labeled as a shooter, people automatically think that I’m best served spotting up in the corner somewhere, waiting for someone to penetrate and knocking down the open three. I can tell you that if this is Fredette’s role in the NBA, or if someone tries to pigeon-hole him into that role, he’ll be out of the league in three years.
Ray Allen and Reggie Miller, probably the two best shooters I’ve seen in my basketball lifetime, were pretty good spot-up shooters… but they did their best work on the move. It didn’t neccesarily have to be off the dribble, but just movement to establish their rhythm.
Now, the money question: does Fredette move well without the ball?
Eh. He’s much better shooting off the dribble.
Therefore, in order for him to maximize his potential as an NBA player, he’ll have to succeed at the point guard position, which ultimately will be an uphill climb due to his lack of lateral quickness.
The irony here is that I absolutely love him as a college player. But, whereas NBADraft.net compares him to Eddie House and Mark Price, there’s another player that comes to mind when I think of Fredette. I really wished he would have made it big, because to this day he’s my favorite collegiate player of all-time.
Ladies and gentlemen, Chris Herren. Roughly the same height, both loved the ball in their hands, both LOVED taking ridiculously deep threes like the three-point line was really 35 feet out, both played the game with a great deal of tenacity.
Of course, you’ll have to take my word for it. Not too much video exists on Herren because, by 2000, less than three years after the Denver Nuggets drafted him in the second round, Herren was gone. Sure, there were some extraneous circumstances as to why he didn’t stick, but, as we know by now talent is very forgiving.
Ultimately, Fredette will have a much better NBA career than Herren because he has a better mindset, but you’re kidding yourself if you expect him to be more than a scoring point guard off the bench.
That won’t stop me from enjoying him this March though. Apparently neither will a snowstorm.