Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Face Off Part III: To which NBA player will Jimmer Fredette be the most comparable?

(The following is the final installment in a three-part series of questions concerning the professional career of Jimmer Fredette. For the first installment, "By his third season, will Jimmer Fredette start 15 games?,” click here. For the second installment, “Which team is the best fit for Fredette?,” click here.)

To which NBA player will Jimmer Fredette be the most comparable?

Alex’s pick: Daniel Gibson

There are many paths I could see Jimmer Fredette’s NBA career going down. I could see the Glens Falls native as a dynamic sixth man who changes the course of a game when he comes in off the bench, a la a prime Leondro Barbosa (minus the Brazilian Blur part). I could also see him following the footsteps of former NCAA scoring champion Adam Morrison and never really find his niche in the NBA game and be out of the league in four years. I have a harder time imagining him as a full-time starting point guard, but given the right circumstances, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities. However, I believe the most realistic outcome is a Daniel Gibson-type player.

Gibson is 6-foot-2, 200 pounds. Fredette is 6-foot-2, 195 pounds.

Gibson plays both guard positions, but is better suited to play off the ball. Fredette plays both guard positions, but is better suited off the ball.

Gibson is averaging eight points, three rebounds and two assists, while hitting nearly 41 percent of his 3-point attempts this season. Fredette is averaging eight points, two assists and one rebound, while hitting 38 percent of his 3-points attempts this season.

So as you can see, there are similarities already. Now some of you may be thinking, “Wait a minute, Gibson is in his fifth year, while Fredette is just a rookie.” While that is correct, Gibson peaked in his second season when LeBron James was still on the Cavaliers. Like Fredette, Gibson isn’t adept at handling the ball and running an NBA offense, but James’ play-making ability allowed Gibson to play off the ball on offense, while guarding the ball on defense. In the 2007-08 season Gibson served as a spark off the Cleveland bench, putting up 10.4 points per game and draining an impressive 44 percent from beyond the arc.

While he wasn’t a Barbosa or Jason Terry type of threat off the bench, Gibson served an important role on the championship-contending Cavalier teams and his shooting prowess even helped swing the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals. With the Detroit Pistons solely focused on slowing down James, Gibson shined in Game 4, scoring 21 points on just six shot attempts. Then in the clinching Game 6, Gibson once again made the Pistons pay for collapsing on James. The former Texas Longhorn scored 31 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter, while netting 5-of-5 from 3-point land.

So as you can see, a lot of Gibson’s success depended on having a superstar teammate attracting the bulk of defensive attention. And the relationship was mutual as Gibson helped spread the floor for James’ penetration. This season, 33.6 percent of Gibson’s offense comes off of spot-up jumpers and Gibson hits 43.8 percent of those 3-points. The short of it is, he isn’t getting as many of his bread and butter plays now that James joined the Dark Side in Miami.

Like Gibson, Fredette thrives at stand-still catch-and-shoot jumpers, only he’s getting even fewer opportunities than Gibson is. This season, 24.2 percent of Fredette’s offense comes from spot-up jumpers and he’s hitting 53.1 percent of those shots from deep, which is among the NBA’s elite.

Furthermore, both struggle to score in any other way than catch-and-shoot jumpers. In isolation opportunities, Fredette makes just 20 percent of his shots, while Gibson is slightly better, but still terrible, at 25 percent. Coming off of screens, Fredette shoots a porous 26.7 percent, while Gibson — once again — is slightly better at 35 percent.

Additionally, Gibson is a vastly superior defender and rebounder, while they are comparably poor in the playing-making department.

So while Fredette could one day exceed Gibson as a player, he has still has a variety of areas where he needs to improve. Then given the right team around him, maybe Fredette will help determine a championship outcome.

Donato’s pick: Jason Terry

Jimmer Fredette’s rookie averages still have room to swell over the course of a long career, but by the time he is a seasoned veteran, I believe we will be comparing him to Jason Terry. Both are 6-foot-2 guards taken No. 10 overall after their senior seasons, are great shooters and both can be dangerous on the right team.

Fredette’s speed and ability to put quick points together make him an ideal bench spark-plug, a likeable fan-favorite who can pull a team back into games with game-changing shots. Loads of offensive-minded shooters have played this role, running the gamut from shoot-first groan-inducers like Eddie House to cult-favorites like Nate Robinson, but Fredette, like Terry, can be a second-unit leader on a contender.

The pair already have had similar statistical starts to their careers.

Per 48 minutes
Fredette 4.9 13 37.5 2.3 6.2 37.5 1.9 2.2 88.9 3.4 1 2 14
Terry (rookie) 4.7 11.4 41.5 0.9 3 29.3 2.2 2.7 80.7 6.6 1.7 3.2 12.5
Terry (career) 6.4 14.2 44.8 1.9 4.9 38 2.7 3.2 84.5 5 1.4 2.9 17.3

Terry began with numbers similar to those of Fredette and improved in almost every category. While Terry has proven to be a better defender than Fredette, there are some metrics that suggest Fredette can still improve in that area. According to, Fredette has only allowed opponents to score in isolation inside the arc seven times in 26 attempts (26.9 percent). In isolation situations, he is only giving up .59 points per possession, good for 23rd in the league. He also allows opponents to score inside the arc 31.8 percent of the time (14-of-44) in spot-up situations and 8 of 26 times from outside the arc (30.8 percent). In spot-up situations he gives up .77 points per possession, good for 46th in the league. Those numbers are not eye-popping, but they show hope for Fredette being able to develop defensively over time.
In those same situations this season, Terry gives up .88 PPP in isolation and .69 PPP in spot-up situations. (1.66 PPP combined for Fredette, 1.57 PPP combined for Terry) The sum of their parts being similar does not make them similar defenders, but at the end of the day, their opponents should put together a similar score. Overall, Fredette gives up .89 PPP to his opponent compared to Terry’s .75. Terry is better, but, like his offensive abilities, Fredette can get there.

Both see their most offensive plays as the ball-handler in pick and roll situations, spot-up shots and in transition.

Points Per Possesion
  Ball-handler on Pick and Roll Spot-up Transition
Fredette .74 1.2 (22nd in NBA) 1
Terry .79 1.18 (28th in NBA) .99

In those situations they are nearly identical in terms of efficiency, with the same strengths (Spot-up) and weaknesses (transition, where the high likliness to score should boost their PPP more).

Fredette can play the role of Terry as a solid third option and leader off the bench much the same way Terry has in Dallas since the 2004-05 season. Often the luck of a player finding the right coach and the right team to fit in on is more important than talent. Fredette could perform on a good team or he could wallow on a bad team. Today, he wallows with Sacramento as Terry did in Atlanta, a team that never had a winning record while he was on the roster. If he can find the right fit as Terry did in Dallas, we may be able to start rewriting Fredette’s legacy.


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