Monday, May 7, 2012

Jimmer's NBA Rookie Season in Review

Oh, Jimmer. What an NBA season it has been. I found this article the other day, which I think is very interesting. Granted, I am Jimmer's #1 fan, but I also recognize that he's not perfect, proven by the very large number of red squares on his shooting chart. But was Jimmer's rookie season a total wash? Not at all. Here are my thoughts on Jimmer's year with the Sacramento Kings.

I, like many other Jimmer fans, wanted him to be drafted by the Utah Jazz, be named NBA rookie of the year, and lead the Jazz to their first-ever national championship, followed by several years of stardom, elevating him to the status of John Stockton in Jazz fans' eyes. Obviously, that didn't even come remotely close to happening. Let's face it-- this was just a super crummy year for anyone in the NBA, especially the rookies. The lockout killed what little morale was left in pro basketball, and it squished the season down to just a few months, resulting in super fast turnarounds, playing games several nights in a row, and a lot of unease and mistrust in general. It makes me tired just thinking about it, and I didn't even have to do it.

On top of that, being a Sacramento King this year was not the best position to be in for anyone on the team. Just a few weeks into the post-lockout season, Coach Paul Westphal got fired and was replaced by Keith Smart . . . who, in my opinion, doesn't exactly live up to his last name. I don't really know why Westphal got fired, but I think he was a much better coach for Jimmer than Smart is. Westphal seemed to actually believe in him and was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Smart just yells at him all the time, doesn't seem to care that he's the only unselfish player on the team, and rarely lets him play. Yes, it's true that Jimmer wasn't playing amazingly in the few minutes he had per game, but he definitely showed potential, and he can't improve if Smart won't let him try. He needs practice. What have you got to lose? Argh. I really wish Jimmer had gotten traded to . . . well, ideally, the Jazz. But really anywhere but Sacramento would do. The Suns? The Knicks? I'd be ok with that. Sacramento is not a good fit for him, and I feel badly for him that he will have to suffer through at least another year of it.

To quote the article I linked to above:
"I have said this a number of times, but I really do feel like Jimmer was hurt more by the lockout than almost any other player.  He needed summer league and an extended training camp to figure out where he fits in the NBA.  The Kings needed this time as well, to assess what exactly they had in him. With a limited training camp, an impacted season, a coaching change and little to no practice time the entire season, I’m not sure that either the Kings or Jimmer still have an idea of where they are going.  This offseason is incredibly important for his development.  He has a lot on his plate this summer, including his pending nuptials.  But he is a fighter and I expect him to learn from his rookie season and come back a different player."

I totally agree. The lockout was just all-around terrible, and getting drafted to the Kings just made it worse. However, even if he had gotten drafted to another team, there may have been similar results. He is having a hard time adjusting to the different level of defense found in the NBA. He can still shoot the ball from just about anywhere in the building with pretty high odds that it will find its way through the hoop, but he does have a long way to go. He needs to work on not losing his confidence. I know, easier said than done. If I were him, I'd probably want to go live in a hole right now with the way he's being treated by his coach, fellow players, and the media. But he's better than that. He was NCAA player of the year for a reason. He needs to take more shots. He needs to speed up his catch-and-shoot reflex. Since it's so rare for him to get his hands on the ball, he needs to capitalize on it every time it happens and make the most of it. I think he also needs to focus on his outside shooting. It's what he's famous for, and what he's most capable of doing in the NBA. Driving into the lane hasn't been working for him at this level like it did in college. I think he's just too short in comparison to the defense to make it work under the basket, so he needs to focus on his aptly named Jimmer-range treys. He also needs to step up his defensive skills. I think he's way underrated defensively, but he's still probably on the lower end of the NBA pack.

While he's a magnet for harsh criticism, Jimmer's overall stats really aren't terrible. Just for fun, let's compare his stats to John Stockton's rookie year stats with the Jazz in 1984-85. Their minutes are really close to the same, so I think it's a fair comparison:


While he may be lacking a little bit in overall FG% and assists, Jimmer's twice as good at 3-pointers and significantly better in free throws and even points per game than Stockton was his first year. Conclusion: All hope is not lost.

As far as sports stars go, Jimmer is about as humble as one can get. However, as stated before, he's also human. The name/word Jimmer has become synonymous with out-of-this-world amazing. If he didn't let it go to his head at least a tiny bit, I would question whether he was actually breathing. I think having a not-so-great season will help him more than hurt him in the long run. I hope he's been humbled just enough-- but not too much-- to get back in the game next year and prove that he's rightfully earned a spot in the pros. No matter what, I'm still your #1 fan, Jimmer. Keep your chin up, and good luck prepping for a (hopefully) much better sophomore season.


  1. I thought Jimmer had an average rookie season. He still has a lot to learn about the NBA and I think you're right in that the lockout sure didn't help his development.

    Ultimately, I don't think Sacramento is the best place for him. There are too many "diva" players on the team, and the whole program seems to be a dumpster fire right now.

    I think Jimmer WILL flourish in the NBA, however. I also hope that he comes back to Utah... to put a dagger in the hearts of Jazz fans (sorry, but there are way too many Utes in that contingent.) :)

    1. Haha. That sounds like a great idea to me!

      I also found another interesting article today along the same lines, but it talks more about how those who are drafted higher (like Jimmer) get more money, but end up going to crummy teams, so it may not be worth it. A really interesting perspective: