This is part of a SLCDunk series of articles on players who we stanned for when they were drafted by the Utah Jazz or who we wanted to be drafted by the Utah Jazz, but never had the success we boasted they would.
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Jimmer Fredette had a unique skill set that allowed him to dominate in college. Enough so that it became a national story. Jimmermania was hard to avoid and it enveloped all of us whether you hated him or loved him. At the time it was electric. He was a hipster, hitting 30 footers regularly before Steph Curry. He got regular season college games televised on national TV, which is crazy to me. We were all there for the game when he outdueled Kawhi Leonard. I legitimately cared about college basketball at that time. That’s never gonna happen again, guys. Jimmer got me.
And he would show up big time when it counted. NBA players, like Kevin Durant, were taking notice of what a unique player he was at BYU.
Jimmer Fredette is the best scorer in the world!!— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) January 27, 2011
The big question was, could it translate? Could he pull off the same step back 3 pointers and dribble drives in the NBA? Because if he could, he had the chance to be a special player.
I thought it was worth the shot to see, hoping the Jazz would grab him at 12.
At the time, when the Kings nabbed him at 12, I was disappointed like a lot of Jimmer fans. But I was also interested to see how he would do in Sacramento alongside Demarcus Cousins as part of the dysfunctional Kings.
That same year, with the final pick in the draft, the Kings selected another point guard, Isaiah Thomas.
Looking back, I thought Jimmer had the chance to be a special score-first point guard. I thought that, even though the athleticism and defense weren’t there, that he’d be a pullup threat from three and that would make his dribble drive game potent. And he had shown an ability to find the open man.
It’s easy to look back and scoff at predictions of Jimmer being great. But he truly was one of the darlings of that draft. Remember, Kyrie Irving was considered something of an unknown commodity as he had only played 12 games for Duke because of injury and Derrick Williams went #2. No one was quite sure what the Jazz would do at #3 when they picked Enes Kanter.
Alas, the Jimmer went to Sacramento and to this day, I’m not so sure that if he hadn’t had better circumstances, he might have had a chance to be an impact player in the NBA. Because in all honesty, it was a tough situation. Demarcus Cousins is one of the worst, if not THE worst teammate in the NBA. Jimmer also had to compete with the last pick in the draft, a 5’9” nobody named Isaiah Thomas. How tough would it be to have to outscore this little guy picked last in the draft who has now become an All NBA guard. Certainly the Kings didn’t forsee that and having their number 10 pick unable to outplay him had to put a sour taste in their mouths.
On top of all that it’s the Kings. Their ownership was terrible in the Maloofs and their coaching was a carrousel. But even so, Jimmer showed that his lack of athleticism and defense made it nearly impossible to keep him on the court.
But what still gets me is that in his rookie year, Jimmer shot 36% from three, 41% in his second, and (in a small sample size) 48% in his third. Surely that has a place on the court somewhere in the NBA. And with what he’s doing in China, it does make you wonder if there ever will be another chance.
It seems forever ago that Jimmer had that first game in Utah with Sacramento where he was cheered and booed each time he touched the ball. He nearly beat us on a last second shot at the buzzer. But like that shot that fell just short, so did Jimmer’s NBA career.
If Jimmer ever does come back, count me in as one of those that will be watching.