Monday, January 24, 2011

An attempt at explaining Jimmer's home and away splits

Jimmer Fredette went bananas. Again.

At Colorado State on Saturday night, the Mormon Moneymaker went for 42 points on 11-24 shooting (4-9 from three), his second 40 point performance in the span of eleven days. He was 16-17 from the free throw line and finished with four assists and just two turnovers.

None of that is atypical. Well, for Jimmer anyway.

What is atypical is that Fredette appears to be a better player on the road than he does at home. Fredette has played six true road games this season, including when he dropped 34 on Buffalo, 39 on UNLV, 47 on Utah, and Saturday's 42 points at Colorado State. Those are his four highest scoring outputs of the season. His career high of 49 points came last season at Arizona. Take a look at his splits:

  • 10 home games: 22.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.6 apg, 2.3 t/o's, 48.1% FG, 41.8% 3PT, 66.2% eFG, 90.4% FT
  • 6 road games: 33.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.7 apg, 3.2 t/o's, 50% FG, 44.3% 3PT, 70.8% eFG, 88.5% FT
  • 4 neutral sites*: 26.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.5 apg, 3.8 t/o's, 48.1% FG, 32.1% 3PT, 59.7% eFG, 92.3% FT
(*The neutral site games came in Glen Falls, NY, Fredette's hometown, when the Cougars played Vermont and in Anaheim to take on UCLA, who handed BYU their only loss. They also played St. Mary's and South Florida in Cancun. I'm counting the games against Arizona and Hawaii in the Energy Solutions Center as home games because they don't require any travel.)

There are the stats, but did you really need them to tell you that Jimmer has been much better on the road than at home this season?

I think I have a solution to why that is the case.

BYU's opponents on the road have an average ranking in Kenpom's database of 106.5. For neutral courts, the average ranking is 80, bolstered heavily by St. Mary's, who is currently 19th. For home games, that number is 157.2, which is actually skewed up a bit considering that BYU's game against Fresno Pacific isn't factored in. (They are not Division I and therefore left out of Kenpom's rankings.)

Now consider this: two of Jimmer's road games came against Weber State and Utah, both of which are heated in-state rivalries. (Ed. Note: Outside of Kentucky, Utah may have the most rabid basketball fan base in the country. The traffic I get from the state backs that up.) His best non-road game came against Arizona, when he had 33 points in a blowout of the Wildcats.

Maybe Jimmer isn't simply better on the road.

Maybe he just steps his game up to another level when the competition warrants.

That's a scary thought.

And if you weren't already jacked up for Wednesday's marquee matchup against fellow MWC heavyweight San Diego State, that should help.

Before I get to a sick video of Jimmer's in-the-gym range, I wanted to get a couple of quick thoughts on the record of Fredette's prospects as a pro. Its a topic that is likely going to spur quite a bit of debate once the season ends and NBA Draft talk dominates the discussion.

The biggest red flag when it comes to Fredette is on the defensive end of the floor. Simply put, he's not a very good defender. He's not all that quick laterally and he doesn't have the length or athleticism to make up for it. There are also times when he looks like he takes possessions off on that end of the floor, but that is likely due to BYU's reliance on him offensively. You don't want a guy whose offense center around his jump shot to have tired legs when he is playing 38 minutes against quality competition.

There are also some question marks to his game offensively, namely how well he can finish around the rim against bigger, stronger, and more athletic NBA front court players. He also doesn't have much of a left hand right now, as he only really goes left to keep his defenders honest.

That said, Jimmer is so good at what he does on the offensive end of the floor that he may be able to be effective even with those limitations. Obviously, he has unbelievable range and the ability to get his shot off even when he is being crowded. He is capable of dribbling full speed in one direction, stopping on a dime and elevating from 25 feet. It looks a bit funky when he does it, but the results speak for themselves. He's got a nice handle and understands how to use fakes and dribbles moves to keep his defender off balance. When you have to guard him 25 feet from the basket, it just creates more space for him to get by his defender.

At this level, Jimmer is able to finish around the rim because he is so crafty with the scoops and floaters he has in his arsenal. He's also got incredible agility and balance in the paint. He's able to slide between defenders and get off a good shot even if he is moving at awkward angles.

Its also promising that he shows the ability to run the point. He generates quite a few assists for a guy with such a high volume of shots and he rarely turns it over despite having the ball in his hands for so much time.

The best comparison I can think of right now is Stephen Curry. Steph had his doubters when he left Davidson, but he's proven himself to be a quality player, averaging 17.9 ppg and 5.9 apg in a season and a half as a pro. If Fredette lands in the right system, he should be able to succeed at the next level. Don't forget, BYU is probably lucky that the draft deadline was moved up. The Knicks came close to offering him a second round guarantee where Landry Fields and Andy Rautins were picked.

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