Charles Rex Arbogast, AP
SALT LAKE CITY — It looks to be an eventful year for the LDS basketball star with the unforgettable name. He should be available next summer and people in Utah can’t help being intrigued.
What if the Jazz acquired him? Would he be the one to bring them back to relevance?
It all could happen if the Jazz land the man with the “J” in his name.
Jabari, not Jimmer.
Jazz fans should stop worrying about Jimmer Fredette and start thinking about Jabari Parker.
Instead of picking up a good outside shooter but poor defender, why not add the guy Sports Illustrated thinks is the greatest thing since cell phones? Rather than signing Fredette as a free agent to improve their perimeter shooting, why not concentrate on drafting Parker and seeing exactly how close he can get to LeBron James? After all, that’s the comparison the magazine made.
This much we know: Fredette isn’t in LBJ territory. Parker’s not either, but he does have NBA star potential. Fredette’s likelihood is to become a situational scorer on the right team. Parker is a potential All-Star.
All the Jazz need to do is play poorly enough to get a very high draft pick.
That shouldn’t involve too much acting.
The reason Fredette’s name is again connected with the Jazz is that the Sacramento Kings declined last week to exercise the option year on his contract. Media outlets are saying that’s a green light for the Jazz to go after the former national player of the year from BYU.
While Fredette appears somewhat relieved that he won’t be in Sacramento next year, it still has to hurt. Going from Jimmermania to “expendable” can’t be good.
If the Jazz did add Jimmer, they’d get a genuinely nice person and a shooter who can pick off an ant at 50 yards. But he wouldn’t change the franchise. The Jazz say they are basing their future on defense, in which case Fredette is an uneasy fit.
Although the Jazz have long needed outside shooting, there are other shooters out there. They just got rid of one last summer when they traded deadeye guard Randy Foye. The Jazz tried a great shooter who didn’t defend when they signed Kyle Korver, but that didn’t get much traction, either.
Parker, a small forward with multiple skills, has the body, temperament, brains and athleticism to excel on any team that drafts him. Though he needs to improve defensively, reports say he has the tools to effectively do so. But the addition of Parker would be based on him entering the draft next summer, rather than staying in college or serving an LDS mission. He is the current BMOC at Duke — Big Mormon on Campus.
He chose Duke over BYU because it’s Duke. But stories also have speculated Parker didn’t want to carry all those expectations in Provo. Parker knows he can leave Duke after one year and not feel terribly guilty. Early departures are expected at top-10 programs. At BYU there’s always the prospect of facing the disappointment/backlash that followed Shawn Bradley when he left after one year.
Were Fredette to play for the Jazz, the scrutiny would be even higher than in Sacramento. He’d be analyzed to death.
As the Jazz rebuild with young players, the last thing their coach needs is fans chanting “Jim-mer! Jim-mer!” each game. If the Jazz drafted Parker there would be no need for chants. He would get his time, based on overall talent.
Although fans may fantasize of a Jazz lineup including Fredette at guard, more impressive would be a Jazz lineup that includes Parker, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke.
It’s possible the Jazz could acquire both Js, though that’s a lot of Mormons for one NBA team — meaning a lot of expectations of playing time in Utah. Fredette might be happier going elsewhere to restart his career.
As 19th century LDS missionary Wilford Woodruff — who converted thousands — showed, sometimes one dedicated Mormon is quite enough.
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