Whatever happened to Jimmer Mania?

Jimmer FredetteWe’ve got a total of two games left in the 2011-2012 in the NCAA season and there have been plenty of great players we’ve seen.  There’s Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, who at 19 is already the best defender in the country.  If he ever puts on 50 pounds, he’ll look just like Deebo from Friday

There’s Kansas’ Thomas Robinson, who is probably the best all around player in college basketball.  As good as these two and several others have been, none of these kids captured the imagination of millions of fans like Jimmer Fredette did with BYU last year. 

“Jimmer Mania” even helped Fredette become a top ten pick in last June’s NBA draft.  It swept through the lockout and in to the beginning of Fredette’s rookie season.  Now, as the Sacramento Bee’s Ailene Voisin writes, Fredette hasn’t been the side kick to Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins many hoped he would be.  Still, Jimmer is a Kings fan favorite despite his rookie season struggles.

“It’s been a little difficult,” Fredette said, denying that his confidence is shaken. “I’m just trying to work hard, to learn as much as I can.”

Jimmer’s rookie season has been inconsistent.  He’s averaging a little over seven points per game and just two assists in 19 minutes per game.  Still, head coach Keith Smart thinks Fredette is a point guard in this league, saying he sees things on the court like a point guard does.  Smart added that Fredette’s problem is he’s not being aggressive enough and is confident Fredette will be a key part of any success the Kings have.  I’ve seen the Kings a couple times this season and Jimmer can be incredibly hesitant with his shot and overall decision making.  He’s shooting 38 percent from three, so I don’t think he’s lost confidence in his shot. 

The other problem Jimmer has run in to is listed at 5’9″ and was the 60th pick in the draft this year.  Isaiah Thomas has busted on to the scene since Keith Smart took over as head coach.  Thomas and Jimmer have essentially swapped roles and playing time for the Kings.  If there was a guy I would suggest Jimmer watch a ton of tape on is Spurs guard Gary Neal.  Like Jimmer, he’s not a traditional point guard, he’s not the quickest guy around and he’s too small to defend shooting guards.  In the Spurs system plays, Neal thrives playing off the ball.  He’s not afraid to shoot, ever.  With Marcus Thorton, Tyreke Evans and John Salmons all being ball handling dominant shooting guards, Fredette could thrive playing a Gary Neal type role.

I think a relatively quiet rookie year has been good for Jimmer.  Coming in to the league I think everyone thought he was going to be a rock star.  He won’t, he’s not good enough to be a team’s best, second or third best player.  But he does have to capability to play a key role on a title contender and be the guy the opposing team doesn’t want taking the final shot in a tie ball game.