Using Basketball Prospectus' college basketball translations, we have determined player comparisons for 2011 draftees. Through game tape, our Sebastian Pruiti explores what makes these players so similar as well as what these draftees are going to have to improve on to validate the comparisons.
Jimmer-mania may have started two years ago during the NCAA tournament, but it really took over the country last season as BYU went from a nice team to a top 10 team for most of the season and as the national media started to recognize Jimmer Fredette, his talent, and his incredible shooting ability. Five years ago, something similar happened with J.J. Redick, so it's only fitting the numbers peg Redick as Fredette's top comp.
Catching And Shooting. When looking at the greatest strengths of Fredette and Redick, shooting ability is definitely the first thing that stands out when watching the game tape. Both Fredette and Redick are great when catching and shooting, and they both have unlimited range. In catch-and-shoot situations, both players are shooting over 40 percent (Redick--40 percent, Fredette--43.5 percent) and are posting a PPP of over 1.1(Redick--1.14, Fredette--1.29):
Looking at catch-and-shoot situations more closely, you also realize that both players can hit a shot with a man in his face, with both players knocking down more than 35 percent of all contested catch-and-shoot jumpers, and Fredette was especially impressive. Despite shooting more contested jumpers than open jumpers (63.5 percent of catch-and-shoot jumpers were contested, which makes sense with the kind of attention Fredette got all season long), Fredette was actually a better shooter with a hand in his face, hitting 45.2 percent of his shots when contested and hitting 40.5 percent of his shots when open (compared to Redick, who hit 36.0 percent of contested jumpers and 43.5 percent of open ones last season).
The big difference in catch-and-shoot situations is how much they were a part of each player's offense. With Redick, he was put in catch and shoot situations 36.1 percent of the time. Fredette was put in these situations about half as often, taking them just 15.0 percent of the time. This is obviously due to the roles of the two players, with Redick working off of the ball most of the time and Fredette being BYU's primary ballhandler.
Shooting Off The Dribble. Even though Redick isn't the primary ball handler for the Orlando Magic, he can still hit shots off of the dribble at a high rate, giving us another similarity between himself and Fredette. You would think with how much more Fredette handles the basketball than Redick, he would have taken more shots off of the dribble this season. This is not the case. In fact, they do it a similar amount with Redick taking these shots 26.9 percent of the time. Fredette shoots jumpers off of the dribble 29.7 percent of the time:
In fact, Redick was a better shooter than Fredette off the dribble this season, hitting 43.7 percent of all jumpers off of the dribble while Fredette hit 38.8 percent of the time. Both are good enough to be placed in the top 15 percentile among their peers in terms of PPP. You give either of these guys a sliver of space while they are dribbling, they will pull up and knock down a jumper.
Midrange Game. While in most situations Redick and Fredette are very comprable shooters, there is one aspect of shooting where Redick is far more efficient, and that is in the midrange. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Redick hit 46.3 percent of all jumpers in the area labeled midrange (17 feet to the three-point line) while Fredette shot just 29.2 percent of all jumpers in the area labeled midrange:
This is the rare exception where it isn't a player's shooting ability keeping him from shooting a high percentage, but rather his role and the players around him. While most of Redick's midrange jumpers usually come off of a pindown screen in catch-and-shoot situations, most of Fredette's midrange opportunities are chances that he creates himself off of the dribble. Though he is a great shooter off of the dribble (see above), the result is going to be more contested jumpers.
Even when Redick is shooting off of the dribble, there is Dwight Howard on the block and another three-point shooter on the wing, meaning he isn't really the focal point of the offense, even with the basketball. That allows him more freedom in the midrange, meaning more open looks. Fredette was option one, two, three, and four for BYU, so the defense tended to crowd him as he penetrates. With more bodies in the area, he tends to face a tougher contest when he pulls up.
Defense. As good as Jimmer Fredette is on the offensive end, he is just as bad on the defensive end. This was the same exact thing that was questioned when scouts were looking at J.J. Redick. Redick has put in the work, and while still overmatched physically, he has proven that he isn't a liability on defense. What is most impressive about Redick's defense is that he has turned into one of the best defenders in the NBA when chasing shooters around screens. He does a tremendous job of staying attached to his man and getting a solid contest on the shot every single time.
This shows in the numbers as Redick's opponents are shooting just 30.4 percent when coming off of screens, posting a PPP of just 0.689 (top 13 percentile in the NBA). Meanwhile, this is what Fredette struggles with, allowing 50 percent shooting and 1.217 PPP (bottom 13 percentile in the NCAA):
Notice how close Redick is to his defender when he tries to shoot off of the screen. The exact opposite happens with Fredette, who often gets stuck in screens or simply doesn't work hard to stay attached to his man. Whether it was because he exerted so much force on the offensive end that he needed to rest on defense or if he simply loses focus, Fredette needs to improve his defense dramatically. That's especially true when it comes to chasing shooters (I don't think he will be defending too many point guards in the NBA), which will have to get better if he wants to get consistent playing time at the next level.
One of the biggest difference between Redick and Fredette is the way that they were used. Both in college and in the pros, Redick has always been a guy working off of the basketball. Fredette was a ballhandler who used a lot of possessions and created his own offense as much as the offense created for him, if not more. While Fredette is going to handle the ball in the pros, if he can adjust to that Redick role, working off of screens off the ball, spotting up and knocking down jumpers, teams will find playing time for him if he can play at least a little bit of defense.
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Sebastian Pruiti is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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