Dear Mr. Lindsay,
I know, I know. I’m sure you read the headline, saw Jimmer’s name, and immediately and emotionally reacted in one of a few ways:
“I totally agree!” If this was your reaction, you’ve been hanging out with BYU fans, read my reasoning first before you call your friends. I know they’ve been begging for this day for years!
“The Jazz aren’t that desperate!” If you thought this, you’ve been hanging out with U of U fans. Please read the letter, I’m not joking.
“Sure, Jimmer is good in a China league, but you are forgetting that Jimmer Fredette can’t guard anyone that actually plays in the NBA.” I don’t blame your skepticism. I was in this camp for a long time, but hear me out before you completely dismiss this idea.
Okay, Dennis (it’s okay if I call you Dennis?), now that we got initial reactions out of the way. This is why you need to make a call to Jimmer and offer him a contract to return to the NBA.
1-The NBA’s emphasis on “freedom of movement” is Jimmer-friendly.
The knock on Jimmer has never been that he can’t score. The criticism has always been that he can’t play defense. Well, my friend, guess what? Nobody is allowed to play tough defense any more. Look at the scoring numbers this season. The NBA’s best-scoring defense this season, the Memphis Grizzlies, is holding their opponents to 102.0 points per game. In 2014-15, Jimmer’s last full season playing in the NBA, 24 of the NBA’s 30 teams held their opponents to less than 102 points per game. The NBA’s highest scoring offense in 2014-15 was the Warriors by a mile, averaging 110.0 points per game. Half of the teams in the league that season didn’t average 100 points. This season, 16 teams average at least 110 per game and the NBA’s lowest scoring team averages 103.6.
Translation? The emphasis on freedom of movement has contributed to scoring to be way up in the NBA from just a few years ago. Many games have turned into shootouts, which means Jimmer’s weakness has been minimized….
2-Defense (Jimmer’s weakness) doesn’t matter as much these days.
This is related to point number one, but it is slightly different. Look at the two best defensive teams from last season the Boston Celtics and the Utah Jazz. Both teams were masterful at off-ball holding and grabbing. With this new emphasis on freedom of movement, how have these defensive stalwarts adjusted? The Celtics were the popular pick to represent the East in the NBA Finals, but through 21 games, the Celtics are 11-10 and currently sit sixth in the East, despite having the league’s third-best scoring defense. The Jazz, who in the preseason were picked by many experts as a top 4 team in the West, sit at a disappointing 9-12 and second-to-last in the West, despite having the conference’s second-best scoring defense. You see, the issues with these defensive-minded teams is not that they have forgotten to play defense, it’s just that in the new NBA it is much more about outscoring your opponent than stopping them. Now you are speaking Jimmer’s language.
3-The Jazz need firepower to help Donovan Mitchell.
The Jazz’s offense is designed to reduce the number of non-restricted area twos in favor of the smarter three-pointers and lay-ups/dunks. For the most part, the Jazz have done well in getting the shots they want, they just aren’t making them. This puts immense pressure on Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz’s lone player who can consistently create his own shot. This stress on Mitchell is impacting his efficiency and he needs help. Mitchell is the Jazz’s only player averaging more than 15 points per game and they have just six players averaging in double figures. Even the NBA’s worst teams have more scoring threats than the Jazz. Phoenix has three players averaging 17 or more and the Cavs have two players averaging over 15 per game and seven players averaging double figures. Jimmer can create his own shot and could take pressure off Mitchell.
4-Jimmer is an elite 3-point shooter.
While Jimmer was a “bust” in the history books, he shot better than 47.6 percent from three in his last season with the Kings. That would have led the league had he met the statistical minimum requirements. With everyone in the building knowing he’s going to shoot in the China Basketball League, he’s still shooting 46.7 percent from three this season on high volume (71 threes in 15 games). The Jazz, on the other hand, are one of the league’s worst thee-point shooting teams. The Jazz’s 31.9 percent is better than only the Thunder and the Jazz don’t have a single player ranking in the top 50 (Joe is 51st). The Jazz need someone who can put the ball in the basket from deep.
5-Jimmer is an elite free throw shooter.
The Jazz aren’t just struggling from deep, they are also struggling from the charity stripe. As a wise man once asked, “Why do they call them free throws when you still have to make them?” Well, the Jazz aren’t making them very well. The Jazz are getting to the line the fourth-most in the league, but currently sit fourth-worst at converting them, at 71.4 percent. Jimmer could solve that problem. over the last two seasons in China, Jimmer is 394-for-414 for 95.2 percent. Unlike, arguments about scoring against China’s inferior athletes, free throws will translate to any league. The Jazz could use someone who’s a threat to get to the line and make them or serve as the automatic technical free throw shooter.
6-Jimmer still wants to play in the NBA and Utah is the perfect spot.
Jimmer wants to get another shot in the NBA and a chance to return to Utah (where he enjoyed his National Player of the Year success) would be a welcomed opportunity. At least the blue part of the state would immediately embrace Jimmer and would immediately buy his jersey, his shorts, his bobblehead doll and anything else you wanted to sell them. This would rejuvenate a fan base that is disappointed with the team’s slow start.
7-It’s a low-risk gamble.
Jimmer was basically run out of the NBA after fizzling out. It wouldn’t take a huge guaranteed contract to get him away from Shanghai Dongfang. China’s not going anywhere and if things didn’t work out, Jimmer would be happy to head back to China. For the type of up-side that Jimmer brings, this is worth the risk.
So there, I said it, it’s time to pick up the phone and call the BYU legend that we all call Jimmer. Please Mr. Lindsay, bring back Jimmer-mania.
Loyal Jazz Fan