Power Ranking the San Antonio Spurs Roster: No. 13, Jimmer Fredette
The San Antonio Spurs list 18 players on the roster heading into training camp, and Air Alamo will break down each of the current players, their strengths, weaknesses, chances to make the roster and expectations for the 2015-16 NBA season.
Week No. 2 opens up with Jimmer Fredette, who recently told Dick Harmon of the Deseret News that the phone call from the Spurs came as a surprise.
Who Is He?
Jimmer is the man who inspired a generation of free-wheeling shooters not bound by what society deems a reasonable shot distance.
As a senior at BYU, he led the country with 28.9 points per game and was ultimately named the AP Player of the Year. Fredette electrified televisions around the country, draining a bevy of 30-foot pull-up three-pointers—which quickly became known as “Jimmer Range.”
The Sacramento Kings traded for him on draft night in 2011. Fredette appeared in 171 games for the franchise, averaged 7.0 points per game and shot 40.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Sacramento waived Fredette in February 2014, but he caught on with the Chicago Bulls for the remainder of the year, then occupied a limited role for the New Orleans Pelicans throughout the 2014-15 season.
Per Harmon, Fredette said he’s looking forward to this chance with San Antonio.
"“It’s an awesome opportunity. When I got the phone call, I wasn’t expecting this opportunity at all. It is something I’m grateful they offered me and it showed they want me on the team. They don’t offer people for no reason. They see a type of guy they want and they go after (him) and I’m glad I’m their type of guy.”"
Strengths and Weaknesses
In the right situation, Fredette offers a potentially elite skill. Fortunately for him, San Antonio is the perfect situation to showcase three-point shooting prowess.
The 6’2″ guard’s biggest strength fills the Spurs’ glaring void Marco Belinelli’s departure left on the perimeter. Fredette has compiled a career 41.2 percent mark from three-point distance.
But that’s basically all he provides. Fredette’s skill set is essentially identical to that of Gary Neal, who was a major piece of the San Antonio rotation from 2010 to 2013 but couldn’t play a lick of defense.
There’s nothing you can say to convince me Jimmer Fredette won’t become Gary Neal in San Antonio.
— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) July 22, 2015
Per ESPN, Fredette and Neal ranked 391st and 431st, respectively, in defensive real plus-minus last season. Considering Belinelli ranked 454th out of 474 NBA players, Fredette isn’t a tremendously poor fit.
Danny Green replicas don’t grow on trees, so Fredette is a classic low-risk, high-reward addition to the Spurs.
What to Expect in 2015-16
Fredette’s near-$1 million contract becomes fully guaranteed on Jan. 10, but if San Antonio waives the 26-year-old before that date, he’s still due a little more than $500,000. Consequently, a financial obstacle doesn’t exist.
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The Spurs could cut Reggie Williams and his non-guaranteed deal in order to keep both Fredette and Jonathan Simmons. Conversely, Simmons is due approximately $525,000—which is fully guaranteed, per Basketball Insiders—so retaining Williams and cutting either Fredette or Simmons would cost a nearly identical price tag.
Nevertheless, Fredette’s outlook to make the roster is encouraging. Williams has no elite contribution; rather, his biggest asset is being the only backup small forward on the roster. Fredette is in favorable position because of his elite shooting range—a skill no other player in the competition currently possesses.
If Fredette does make the final 15-man list, it’s imperative he takes advantage of the unexpected opportunity. Because if Fredette can’t succeed in the perfect situation, the NBA might no longer be an option.