SALT LAKE CITY— Several years ago, I bought a car that seemed a superb choice at the time. It does some things extremely well. Acceleration and handling are first rate. It poses nicely, which attracted me in the first place.
But there are some things I've never liked. I can't see out the back window because the rear head rests get in the way. The release lever for the trunk is hard to find. Rear leg room is zilch.
Which brings me to the prospect of the Jazz drafting Jimmer Fredette with this year's No. 12 pick. He has some nice features, but some drawbacks, the biggest being that he's the wrong size and speed for the Quickest Show on Earth.
If I were the Jazz, I'd think twice before drafting him. There are some things that might end up irritating them more than they thought.
From a character standpoint, Fredette is great. His idea of getting crazy is ordering extra onions. He's an outstanding scorer, which is a skill any team in the league could use. But I'm doubting Jazz coach Ty Corbin would want him launching the 35-foot shots he did in college. His twisting inside shots will be blocked with more frequency than before.
Mainly, though, I'd worry about his speed and size. At just above 6-foot-1 he's too small for 2-guard, but a bit slow for a point. Think of some of point guards in the league: J.J. Barea, Will Bynum, C.J. Watson — and those are all backups. Fast, athletic backups.
I won't even mention the starters.
Fredette will have a nice 10-year career in the NBA as a backup. He would surely sell some Jazz T-shirts, but tickets? It might not make a lot of difference. When the Jazz are decent they sell out anyway.
Drafting Fredette is probably a moot point for the Jazz. They aren't likely to draft two guards. So unless they luck out and get forward Derrick Williams or decide on big man Enes Kanter, they're bound to take Brandon Knight with their No. 3 pick. The Kentucky guard is athletic and skilled enough to thrive immediately.
The Jazz have often struggled with perimeter shooting and Fredette could help with that, if he can get open against faster and/or taller players and adapt to being the third option on a possession. On the worrisome side, he had quite a few poor percentage games in the second half of last season. After Jan. 26, he only made half his shots three times. From 3-point range, he had 2-for-11, 1-for-5, 2-for-8 and 1-for-9 games. Defenses at the rim got tougher on him as the season progressed.
Clearly he got tired, carrying almost all the scoring weight for the Cougars. But BYU's basketball season lasted 37 games. Eighty-two NBA games, plus the playoffs and preseason, won't be easy, even if he's coming off the bench.
NBA teams prize athleticism and versatility over shooting. If you get to the rim fast enough, it's a 100 percent shot. How well Fredette will do that against the quicker inside defenders in the NBA is debatable.
But scoring isn't his real worry. It's that the Jazz have traditionally been beaten off the dribble at the guard spots, and adding Fredette wouldn't help. Meanwhile, he's the wrong size to be a combination guard.
The former BYU star is saying the Jazz are his top choice, but he might want to reconsider. Cougar fans would be clamoring early to see him play, perhaps causing him to press too hard.81 comments on this story
Still, I'd still like to see him playing for the Jazz — in four years. He won't be any faster or taller, but let him go somewhere else and develop, then sign him as a free agent or acquire him in a trade. He's one player who wouldn't balk at playing in Utah.
Raja Bell, Earl Watson, Ronnie Price and even Devin Harris might by then have moved on. The guard line will need depth.
At that point, like a certified pre-owned vehicle, Fredette will have been tested, tweaked and adjusted, and the Jazz will know what they're getting. In fact, he'll just have reached cruising speed.