True Hoops

True Hoops

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Player pick 'em

Jimmer or Kemba?

I will readily admit that I don't really watch college basketball before March. Hence this being my first college basketball related post. However, once the madness is here I get hooked like everyone else. 

As we all fill out our brackets and pick which teams we think will advance in the tournament, I have another decision for you to make.

Who would you pick between Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker?
Since these guys have been the two premier college players this season, I suppose the context of the question is relevant in a decision of this magnitude.


Who had the most impressive performance during championship week?
Jimmer: 52 vs. New Mexico (MWC semi-final)
Kemba: 33, 12 rebounds, 6 steals, & 5 assists vs. Syracuse (Big East semi-final).

As I say to my friends on many occasions: “50 is 50.”
Dropping 52 points in a game is amazing, not to mention on 23 of 37 shooting. 
How much stamina do you need to get up that many shots? 

Think about this, Kemba had 33 in an overtime game. Jimmer had 33 at the half!

What made this performance that more impressive was that BYU had lost to New Mexico twice earlier in the season. It seems as if Jimmer literally put a cape and the entire team on his back and decided that they weren’t going to lose – even if it meant doing all the scoring.

And let’s just say, those didn’t look like easy shots he was making.

I still wouldn’t discount Kemba’s game, which was against 11th ranked Syracuse at the time. But what do you think Jimmer would have done against the Orange's 2-3 zone?
Could he have scored more than 52?

Kemba clearly had the better all-around game, but Jimmer put on a show.

Advantage: Jimmer

Who had the best championship week?
This is a no brainer.

If you look at the picture above, Jimmer is holding up his thumb while Kemba is holding up a piece of net from Madison Square Garden.

You do the math.

No wait, on second thought, let me. 
5 wins in 5 days – the first team in history to do so.
4 wins in a row against ranked opponents.
130 - the most points by one player in Big East tournament history (26 points per game).
Big East tournament most outstanding player

Jimmer only played in three games. While his numbers were certainly outstanding (35 points per game), they didn’t take home the chip.

You want to talk about putting a team on your back? It doesn’t get much better than the mettle kemba displayed last week at the world’s most famous arena. And dig this, when asked if his team could have played a 6th day in a row to win the championship, Kemba responded: “If we had to.”

Advantage: Kemba

Who will lead their team further in the NCAA tournament?
Both aren't strangers to success in the big dance.
Last year Jimmer had 37 in a double overtime opening round victory over Florida.
Two years ago as a freshman, Kemba had 23 points and 5 assists in the west regional final to lead UCONN to the Final Four.

The tournament would certainly benefit from having BOTH of them in it for as long as possible.
Is it possible we can see them match-up in the final four?
Possible, but not likely.

I won't even try to hide my big east/ St. John’s alumni bias.
You have to know that I am picking St. John’s over BYU in the second round. 
How about a possible Dwight Hardy vs. Jimmer Fredette match-up? 
I would love to see what Jimmer does against a big east team. 
Hopefully we’ll get a chance to see it, because it would be fun. 

With that said, I have BYU making a second round exit.

On the other hand, UCONN can definitely get to at least the sweet 16, having a potential second round match-up with a familiar conference foe in Cincinnati. I'm gonna go ahead and say that UCONN has found a way to master the Big East and therefore will be able to handle Cincy.

Ironically, they would then match-up with San Diego State – BYU’s rival this season.

Having BYU face the Big East and UCONN face the Mountain West tournament champions would prove to be an informative comparison between these two. Although in fairness, it would probably say more about the strength of their respective teams - in which I think UCONN is deeper.

If it comes down to who does better against the big east in the second round – I’m going to go with the Big East champs.

Advantage: Kemba

Who is the better scorer?
Well, it seems like it would have to be Jimmer by default.
He is averaging 28.5 points a game this season, while Kemba is at 23.5.

Still, both have similar efficiency: Jimmer is shooting 46% from the floor, Kemba 43%
And you might argue that playing in the Big East is tougher, having to face bigger and more athletic defenders. Therefore, the scoring averages may have to be normalized according to strength of conference.

Out of curiosity, how do you think Jimmer would do against a Louisville press?
That press and pressure defense was able to throw off Big East player of the year Ben Hansborough (similar game to Jimmer?) in the Big East tournament semi-finals.

They held Kemba to 'only' 19 points in the Big East championship game.
Although it was the back end of a back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back quintuple header.
It's just a hypothetical question.

Still, it’s not like opposing teams aren’t setting up their defensive schemes to stop Jimmer. And it’s not like he doesn’t face a lot of doubles teams.

And I would have to say that Jimmer is definitely the better shooter: 40% on three-pointers compared to 34% for Kemba.

It also helps your cause when Kevin Durant, leading scorer in the NBA the past two years, tweets: "Jimmer Fredette is the best scorer in the world."

Advantage: Jimmer

Who is the better at creating their own shot?
BYU fans like to taunt opponents by letting them know that they have been “Jimmered” whenever he does them dirty by dropping 30 in their face.

I have never really seen Jimmer take an un-contested shot. It seems he has to resort to one of three options:
1) dribble down the court and pull-up from 35-40 feet
2) cross his defender over multiple times to gain enough time and space to pull up
3) hesitate then blow by his defender (who was waiting for the jumper) to pull up for a mid-range running floater/jumper

Not bad options at all. High degree of difficulty, but he shoots at a high percentage.

Well if Jimmer... “Jimmers” opponents, then they need to make up a phrase for what Kemba did to that poor Pittsburgh defender in the quarter-finals of the Big East championship. (shame on Pittsburg for leaving their big man out on an island like that to get exposed in from of the entire nation.)
Throw on top of that the fact that it was a game winner as time expired.

I’m not sure if "he got kemba-ed" will suffice, but it’s a good start.

Additionally, in the limited time I've seen Jimmer play, I've never seen him get all the way to the basket. Kemba, on the other had, can. He had several impressive lay-ups in the Big East tournament. 

His most impressive drive came with under a minute to go in the Big East championship game. Down one with around 40 seconds to go, he got by two defenders all the way to the basket.  When contested at the rim, he threw a wrap around pass to an open teammate for the lead and eventual championship. 


Kemba has several game winners this season.
Isn’t being able to create and make your own shot in a pressure situation what it’s all about? 
I don’t think anyone has done that more this year than Kemba.

Advantage: Kemba

Who's game will translate better at the professional level?
First of all, I said professional because if any of these two went over-seas to play, they would destroy. As shooters/scorers, they would fit in quite well.

In the NBA, it’s a little trickier. Both of these guys will have to learn to play the point guard position, or be relegated to a seldom used small '2' guard.

Jimmer is 6’2”, 195 ibs. 
He seems big and strong enough to make a quicker transition.
It also helps that his range is “in the building.”

I once heard him compare his own game to that of Deron Williams (let me add, he did so in a humble manner). He mentioned that he is similar to Williams in being a bigger point and that he tries to emulate Williams' game by using his crossover to create for himself.
I can see that.

There might be a tendency to compare Jimmer to a JJ. Reddick or a Adam Morrison - both prolific scorers in college but not so in the NBA. That is a false analogy. Jimmer is more than just a shooter. He has to handle the ball all the time and create for himself. He always seems to get his shot off.
Shooting off the dribble will be key if he wants to be more than a role player in the NBA. But it seems like Jimmer has that down.

Even if he doesn't pan out to be a Deron Williams, I think he can become a Stephen Curry type player.
Both came out of small schools, both can shoot, and both are probably good passers because of how well they shoot. Curry just won a gold medal with the USA team in the world championships this past summer. If anything, Jimmer is probably bigger and stronger than Curry. 

Kemba is listed at 6'1", 172 ibs.
Yeah, I don't know about that. In fact, I don't know if he's even 6'0".
And this is my concern with regards to his NBA career.

Of course he can be successful. Think about Nate Robinson, Will Bynum, and Earl Boykins. All are fast and come off the bench to provide a spark for their teams. They are also pests on defense. 
But while there is no doubt they are all great pieces to a team, are they indispensable?

Does he have the skill set to be more of a Chris Paul type point? I don't know.
Perhaps more realistically, maybe he can be another Ty lawson type of pro - and that's not bad.

You know who Kemba reminds me of? 
Ben Gordon. 
Gordon had a great career at UCONN, winning a Big East Championship AND a national championship.
Similar games. Both the size of a point guard, but both not really point guards. 
Both were great scorers and very crafty. Both from NYC.
I would say Gordon was a better shooter and had better ball handling skills coming out.
Walker is faster and more tenacious.

In the NBA, Gordon has had a good career - winning the 6th man award as a rookie and having a great series against Boston a couple for years ago in the playoffs. But he never made the transition to playing the point and has yet to develop into a star.
Can Kemba do better than that?

Really, what it all comes down to for both of these players is if they are fortunate enough to go to a system that caters to their specific skill set. 
Sometimes it's as simple as that. 
Will they be drafted by teams that will give them enough playing time? 
Allow them to play to their strengths? 
Give them enough opportunities to develop?
Or, will they go to a winning team that puts them in a position to be successful?

Some say Jimmer is a liability on the defensive end because of a lack of quickness. I don't buy that. And even if I did, you can say the same thing about Kemba due to his size.

I personally feel Jimmer will learn the point better, is a better shooter with more range, and will be better coming off screen and rolls. 
I also think he can be more of a constant weapon, rather than a situational kind of player. Although I suppose he can always resort to being a specialist.

Advantage: Jimmer

Who would you pick for your team?
Ah man, this is tough.
What team are we talking about? NBA lottery? NCAA? Over-seas? Dyckman park?

My brain says Jimmer, but my heart says Kemba.
If it comes down to a head to head match up, how can you discount a kid with heart from the Bronx?
Although Jimmer is also from New York.

Advantage: I'm going to cop out and say you can't go wrong with either.

Like with all of the questions above, the answer is subjective.
It just depends who you ask...

A New Mexico defender?

"Jimmer, I love you!"

Or the former leader of the free world?

(Southern drawl) "Have you ever considered a cabinet position?"
" want me to come to the Duke game?"


  1. Kimba and Jimmer are 2 totally different types of players with different strengths... its hard to say where they fit in the L. Kimba will def have to bulk up, but his advantage is his 17' and in and he can make plays for himself as well as others, I see him, at his potential like a Brandon Jennings type of player. Jimmer's advantage is 24' and out! I think he'll really need to work on his play making for others, hustle and continue to shoot out the gym, I can kinda see some simliarities between him and Barra from the Mavs as far as NBA transition, either way the boy got a gat and any team could use a gunner.

  2. Great job distinguishing their games.

    Nice comparison between Kemba and Brandon Jennings, I didn't think of that one. Although Jennings needs to improve his efficiency. Either way, Kemba will really have to use his speed and get into the lane to be successful.

    It's funny, I seem to keep mentioning how important the mid-range jump shot is. Well as Treasure pointed out, Kemba's strength is the mid-range. When someone is that fast, they always have the their defender off-balance and on their heels. It really gives them an opportunity to utilize their mid-range game, especially the step back jumper - as Kemba did against Pittsburgh. A nightmare to defend...

    I still think Jimmer will be more of a commodity because of his shooting ability. Every team can use that! He's also bigger than Barea.

  3. True, Jimmer is bigger than Barea. Barea is prolly 5'9", 5'10" tops while Jimmer is 6'2" but both of these dudes ranges are out the gym and their upper body strength is there to support that. I played pick up with Barea on more than a few occasions and this dude could pull from anywhere. But I think hard work, hustle and fearlessness is more of what has kept him on the Mavs (and in the NBA for that matter) and I kinda feel like that's what Jimmer is going to have to bring to the table if he wants a minutes in the NBA, outside of continuing to being cash from half court of course...

  4. Although, you still didn't say who you think will do better in the NBA.
    Or who you would pick...

  5. I agree Jimmer's transition to the league will be smoother because of his shooting range, but this season as a pg, I didn't see him make his team better. He was pulling an LBJ out there: dribble to the top of the key, pull up or drive to the cup (which he actually does very well). He's yet to prove that he can lead a team. Whereas, Kemba has turned his young squad into contenders, both by example and tutelage. His freshman aren't underclassmen anymore, thanks to Kemba "Moon" Walker. "Moon" Walker because his defenders moon walk when he hits them with the crossover-step-back-pull-up-swish! But, I'm going to go with the proven winner on this one, which is Kemba. This season he has hit more buzzer beaters than any NCAA player (my faves: against Providence and of course Pitt). Kemba has the eye of the tiger. When he smells blood, he attacks.

  6. My buzz JHS... It really depends on the team/situation that picks them up, there are a lot of teams that are looking to rebuild due to all the free agency shake ups over the past season so both of these guys have an opp to step into something that will leave the flood gates wide open. Right now, if I had to, I would say Kemba has less to work on to be effect in the league so if I had to pick I would go with BX, but there's a lot of time between now and the 11-12 NBA season, Jimmer could handle business over the summer and pre-season and come out like a beast.