How Jimmer Jimmers: A Breakdown of the Sacramento Guard’s Entire Game

A distant two NCAAB seasons ago Jimmer Fredette became the national darling of white non-basketball fans everywhere for his sterling play in the Mountain West Conference. He averaged 28.9 PPG and posted several 40-point performances, including a few against a BYU’s despised rival Utah and a previously undefeated San Diego State. He capped off an illustrious season with numerous honors including the John R. Wooden award, Naismith College Player of the Year, Associated Press College Basketball Player of the Year, and…well you get the point.

Fans eagerly awaited the beginning of his NBA career, though not without the rightful trepidation expected of a white guard from BYU. Jimmer was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2011 NBA draft and was promptly traded to the Sacramento Kings as part of a draft day trade agreement. After the thrill of the draft, the excitement around Jimmer quickly began to wane. He had a miserable rookie year in the lockout shortened 2011-2012 season and by the time that he showed improvement in his second year, albeit in limited minutes, people had turned off to him.

However, even though few people were paying attention to him in 2012-2013, Jimmer did show signs of his future as a legitimate NBA player. This past season he scored 18.4 points per 36 minutes, which ranked in the 85 percentile among guards, on an efficient 54.6% true shooting. He clearly can score at an NBA level (that may even be an understatement) though admittedly his defense is still very suspect.

Offensive Play Types

The most admirable facet of Jimmer’s offense is his skill in the two man game, as he scored 0.96 points per play as the ball handler, which ranked 11th in the NBA. He was an elite shooter off the dribble, shooting a fantastic 41.7% on threes out of the pick-and-roll 1. Just look at the video below, he can make the defense pay in any situation. The second clip in particular is important, as it reveals a valuable by-product of Jimmer’s three point shooting; big men are forced to hedge farther out than usual because of his range, which allows the athletically challenged Jimmer to get into the teeth of the defense.

 

While Jimmer isn’t as effective inside the arc as he is outside of it, he still shoots 47.8% on two pointers out of the pick-and-roll. In between the three point line and the rim, he excels. He’s capable of making the routine pull-up jumper or displaying a very crafty game and creating something out of nothing.

 

 

At the rim, his lack of athleticisim starts to show more; he shot a very poor 51.7% at the rim last year, a number which holds him back somewhat. Additionally, he had 7.8% of his shot attempts blocked when shooting from around the rim, a stat that pits him at 15th worst amongst shooting guards. However, Jimmer has, at times, displayed some very Steve Nash-esque finishes, which creates some optimism for him to improve in this regard.

 

While one would expect Jimmer to be one of the best spot-up players in the league, the 1.03 PPP he produced in spot-up play types ranked 121st in the league (still as solid number, just not league best). Interestingly enough, Jimmer shot a higher percentage on off-the-dribble threes (over 40%) than he did while spotting up (38.1%) 2.When Jimmer elected not to shoot and instead attack the close-out, he was, as in the pick-and-roll, semi-effective. He showed his usual flair from the midrange, evoking images of Chris Paul 3, but struggled near the basket.

On the run, Jimmer isn’t particularly notable, ranking as the 221st best player in transition. However, by virtue of the play type, he’s still an efficient option averaging 1.04 PPP. He runs to the three point line well and converts at an excellent rate (48.6 3pt%), but he doesn’t do much else.

 

When filling in the lane, once again his struggles with finishing at the rim trouble him, and when he handles the ball, he isn’t much better.  He can make the occasional pull-up-three-in-transition 4, but he has trouble getting all the way to the rim and his otherwise excellent midrange game struggles in the rather hasty pace of transition.

Jimmer’s last regularly used play type was isolations. In this field, Jimmer averaged 0.80 PPP, 96th in the NBA. Despite his relatively good ranking, Jimmer needs to improve here as, in contrast to transition, isolations trend towards being an inefficient play type. What propped up Jimmer’s efficiency in isolations was his bold three point shooting; he shot 70% on isolation threes last year (Ok, he only took 10 all season but bear with me). Jimmer would lull his man to sleep by passively dribbling or standing in the triple threat waiting for his opponent to lower his guard. Once that happened, Jimmer struck.

 

Obviously, Jimmer could not even hope to maintain a 70% mark with more touches, but shooting around 40% in such situations is entirely reasonable considering his quick and accurate release.

Offensive Struggles

Jimmer struggled when opponents took advantage of his lacking athleticism. Watch the video below. In both of the eerily similar clips, Jimmer’s man plays him tight forcing him baseline. Jimmer, lacking any other options, takes what his opponent gives him. Jimmer has neither the speed to create seperation from his man nor the handler to cross his man over and get to the middle of the floor. Ultimately Jimmer dribbles right into the help defense and the ensuing trap forces him to throw a wild pass that results in a turnover.

 

As the video shows, Jimmer struggles to create separation without the aid of a screen or his man being off balance while closing him out, resulting in his high percentage of isolations ending in turnovers (15.2%) and lowered efficiency. It seems unlikely for Jimmer to substantially ameliorate in isolations as the improvement needed in his handle to make up for his inadequate athleticism is rather large, and improving his athleticism seems pretty unlikely (then again, this is the 21st century so you never know).

Offensive Conclusion

Despite his struggles creating off the bounce in isolations, overall Jimmer is a very effective offensive player; he puts points on the board efficiently without turning the ball over, all of which are very valuable traits. Jimmer can create for himself out of the pick-and-roll, and play effectively off the ball, both of which would deem him a prime candidate to be a lesser, paler version of Vinnie Johnson, but his defense obstructs that possibility.

Defense

Jimmer is a very bad defensive player no matter what metric you look at. According to synergy, he gave up 0.97 PPP in total, 401st in the league. Among players who played a similar amount of minutes to him he finished last in defensive winshares 5, and perhaps most tellingly of all, he had a defensive RAPM 6 of -4.9, a bottom 20 number in the league.

After pick-and-rolls, the most common play type that Jimmer encountered were spot-ups. As you guessed, he didn’t have much luck here either – he gave up 1.12 PPP, making him the 337th worst defender in this regard. Jimmer’s problems defending the spot-up are not fundamentally based. Rather, what plagues him the most is his 6‘2‘‘ frame and his lack of athleticism. Most often, Jimmer is forced to defend shooting guards who know how to rise up and shoot the ball. In these instances, Jimmer’s height and less-than-stellar hops plague him. For example, in the play below, Jimmer defends the weakside shooters well, but Danny Green is able to get his shot off because Jimmer doesn’t have the athleticism or size needed to effectively alter his shot.

 

Isolations were the last play type that Jimmer commonly encountered, and he was predictably terrible against them – giving up 1.03PPP, 308th worst in the NBA. He isn’t exactly hard to blow by and is easily turned around by some fancy ball-handling.

(I know that’s Chis Paul, but that was done to him by lesser guards as well).

Once again his limited stature hurt him against athletic point guards and shooting guards. In both of the below plays, Jimmer actually initially guards them well, but both Russell Westbrook, with his elevation, and Jamal Crawford, with his height, are able to rise up and shoot over him.

 

Players took Jimmer to the block less commonly, but he struggled guarding them all the same. Jimmer’s a fairly compact person, so opponents couldn’t back him down at will, but they could shoot over him without mercy 7. Even against players around his height, Jimmer struggled 8. He displayed poor instincts and was easily sent reeling by some basic moves. He can improve his poor instincts, but his height issues will always persist.

Like with post ups, Jimmer didn’t spend too much of his time chasing his opponents around screens. He gave up 0.93 PPP, not a stellar number. Speedier players (most players are speedy compared to Jimmer) left him behind, and in attempt to make for the lost ground, Jimmer would resort to attempting to cheat his way through screens 9, something that didn’t fare to well for him.

However, while I’ve roasted Jimmer’s defense quite thoroughly, there was actually one aspect of his defense that wasn’t that bad: defending the pick-and-roll. Against the pick-and-roll ball handler Jimmer conceded 0.85 PPP, 175th in the NBA. The reason behind this surprisingly acceptable ranking isn’t some abberation; Jimmer fought over screen wells, quickly recovered to his man, and didn’t try to cheat by going under picks. Impressively, Jimmer could’ve posted even better numbers if he had more competent big man against the pick-and-roll. Take the below play for example, Jimmer defends it well but what the hell is Boogie doing? Unfortunately, Jimmer’s accolades on defense don’t stretch too far out from this.

 

Defensive Conclusion

Jimmer’s defensive woes are particularly concerning, as most of them are rooted in his poor height and athleticism. His issues with height could only be fixed by playing with a point who can guard the two (a rare commodity), and while that would cure that problem, it would exploit his lack of lateral quickness. If he could improve his defense to even just below-average levels, it would do wonders for his game. He could be a lethal weapon off the bench, but it would take a miracle for that to happen, which leaves his NBA future in limbo.

 ——–

Statistical support from mysynergysports.com/, basketball-reference.com/, and stats-for-the-nba.appspot.com/4556 Oranges Squeezed

Notes:

  1. As shown by his overall assist percentage of 15.9% last year, Jimmer isn’t much of a passer. He mainly looked to score in pick-and-rolls, but despite this propensity, he wasn’t a brash player. He didn’t drive into heaps of players ignoring open cutters, he was cautious, and his percent of plays that ended in turnovers in the pick-and-roll (14.9%) compares favourably to James Harden (19.0%), Tony Parker (14.1%), and Chris Paul (14.0%).
  2. This interesting quirk can be explained by Jimmer’s less than immaculate shot form. While Jimmer exhibits almost perfect form when viewed from the side – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrUADM6jYNg – he keeps his elbow at a 90 degree angle to prevent a hitch and fully extends his arm on the follow through – his kink reveals itself when his jumper is observed head on http://i.imgur.com/jyf4dLB.jpg. Jimmer shoots with his left hand almost on top of the ball, a long distance from where it’s supposed to be on the side.
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=wAyU7-XXWbw
  4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=tNijE8fUAZo
  5. DWS attempts to quantify defense using box score statistics. Given the sparsity of defensive box score statistics it isn’t extremely precise, but it is more accurate than you’d think
  6. Regularized Adjusted Plus-Minus (RAPM) is an estimate of a player’s on-court impact. If a player has an RAPM of +2, that means the player improves his team’s performance by two points per 48 minutes, compared to an average NBA player. http://youhavenogame.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/197/
  7. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=gzRwyhukFAE
  8. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=5m2Q7RX7zAs
  9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=eYghE9qy1j4
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