The NBA Draft is only a day away, and in a draft that lacks star power and sex appeal, players like Jimmer Fredette have jumped to the forefront of conversation.
So let's start with Jimmer.
Depending on who you ask, he's either severely underrated because of his athleticism, or severely overrated because of... Well, his athleticism. Of course we're speaking in code here. Unless you're in the YouTube comment section, nobody's just going to come out and say, "He's overrated because he's white." But that's what a lot of fans might think. Or maybe, "If he was black, he'd be a top five pick."
But white or black, he's obviously one the toughest players in the draft, and athletic or not, he's one of the most creative shooters I've ever seen. It's not like the athleticism wasn't a problem in college; the NBA won't be much different in that department. He thrived in college despite the disadvantages, so why can't it work in the NBA? That's the rationale for drafting Jimmer.
The obvious rationale for NOT drafting him: Jimmer may have succeeded despite some disadvantages athletically in college, but that was in the Mountain West Conference. In the NBA, all the disadvantages get multiplied tenfold. But that point is too easy, I think.
Here's the real problem: Nobody's designing an offense around him in the NBA, and to get his shot off in college, he had to monopolize the ball. Dribbling in circles for 10 seconds, coming off screens, pump-faking, pump-faking again, and then twisting his body for low-percentage fadeaway jumpers. That was Jimmer, and on a mediocre team, that works. It was fun to watch.
On an NBA team, he'll have to be a spot-up shooter. He's creative, but to work his magic, he needs lots of time and lots of touches. In the NBA, teams won't run plays for him, he won't have ten seconds to dribble around in circles, and all his pump-fakes will just piss off his teammates.
The NBA's not biased against white players, but the NBA's definitely biased against guys that need to take 30 shots just to be effective. If you're going to play that way, you need to be Allen Iverson or Kobe Bryant, not Jimmer Fredette. So for Jimmer, the absolute best case scenario is that he can change his game and become a role player like James Harden.
More likely, he'll wind up being something like Dell Curry: a bad defender, a great shooter, and a solid role player for a decade or so. And maybe in 20 years we'll be talking about Stephen Fredette, the next generation's Great White Virgin Hope. But would you draft Dell Curry in the Top 10 of the NBA Draft? ... What if he was white, and would help sell tickets?
Are we sure his race is working against him in this draft?
The Spurs trying to trade Tony Parker is pretty hilarious. This is a move they should have made 18 months ago, when they probably could have traded Parker to the Celtics for Rajon Rondo (before he signed his new deal, when the C's were totally on the fence about him). But now, after Parker fell apart down the stretch for yet another year, the Spurs are trying to trade an NBA Finals MVP for a middle lottery pick in the worst draft since 2000.
I'm not saying they shouldn't trade him, but come on. Be smart about this. You're really going to give up Tony Parker for a shot at Jonas Valanciunas? Have some self-respect.
Derrick Williams Is The Best Player In The Draft. We'll talk more about this later in the week, but it's pretty amazing that everyone's just conceded that Kyrie Irving's the best player in the draft. It's like the Duke-Arizona game never happened. Granted, Irving's a natural point guard and Williams is sort of a tweener, but it's not like Williams is Michael Beasley, either.
He can shoot, he can bang down low, and he's got unreal athleticism. Worst case scenario, he evolves into a more athletic version of Antawn Jamison. Best case, he's Paul Pierce 2.0. Also, David Kahn's practically begging for a reason not to take him at No. 2.
That's gotta be considered a good sign, doesn't it?
Another Note On Jimmer. I really enjoyed this tweet from Bomani Jones.
Reggie Jackson, The Biggest Sleeper In The Draft. Granted, I went to Boston College and watched Reggie up close for his entire college career, so maybe I'm biased. But in the mid-20s, if you can get a guard who can defend, score off the bench, and hang with anyone in the NBA athletically, you're in pretty great shape.
It's not to say Reggie will be a superstar one day, but he's got all the tools to be a totally solid third guard on a contender. He can defend, he can score, and he can learn the point guard position from a proven starter. Or think of it this way: If guys like Aaron Brooks and Jrue Holiday can blossom into solid NBA players, what's stopping Reggie from making the same exact leap? All the tools are there, he's not a head case, and if he goes to a contender in the 20s, he'll be learning from some proven veterans. It just makes too much sense for a team like the Celtics at 25.
The Enes Kanter Gamble Will End Badly. Just a gut feeling. Partly because I keep confusing him with Kousta Koufos and partly because low-post scorers are a dying breed in the NBA. But mostly because he's probably headed to Cleveland, where the draft history is a tragedy of the highest order. Remember when they drafted Luke Jackson at no. 10? That decision alone was probably enough to justify LeBron leaving.
These Kyle Singler Comparisons Are All The Best. But pre-injury Curtis Sumpter? Wow.
Finally, Passing On Bismack Biyombo Is Really Dumb. There are two stars in this draft--Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams--and beyond that, everyone's grasping for straws with these guys. Is Enes Kanter really going to evolve into a franchise center? Is Brandon Knight really going to blossom into an All-Star? They're all good, but not many guys in this draft have the chance to be great.
But Bismack Biyombo does, in his own way. Not "great" as a superstar or franchise cornerstone, but the sort of role player that becomes an indispensable piece on a contender. And beyond Kyrie and Williams, an "indispensable piece on a contender" is the best teams can hope for from a draft like this. So if you're an NBA GM, rather than talk yourself into the potential of guys like Knight, Kanter, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesley... Why not just take the guy who scouts agree is a killer shot blocker and an elite rebounder?
Shooters, point guards, defensive specialists... It's easy to find those guys later in the draft or in free agency. But even if they can't do anything else, shot blocking, rebounding big men are a rare commodity in the NBA. And ultimately, they're more valuable than a lot of more talented stars.
Guys like Brandon Knight may be more skilled, but who will be on more winning teams?
Just look at what Tyson Chandler did for the Mavericks. Or Joakim Noah for the Bulls. Or Serge Ibaka for the Thunder. Or even Joel Anthony for the Heat. Every good team has a guy like Bismack Biyombo. And the bad teams? Well, they're always the ones trying to talk themselves into guys like Brandon Knight and Jimmer Fredette.