As we draw closer to the NBA draft we keep hearing all sorts of potential scenarios around the league. It’s impossible for anyone to predict what things may happen to change the draft order, but there is much talk about it.
Locally the banter has been whether or not the Utah Jazz want to draft the consensus national player of the year, BYU’s own Jimmer Fredette and what they’d have to do to be in position to do so. So until we know for sure what happens next week, I decided to interview several Jazz fans. Some were BYU fans but I was also able to see how some Ute and Aggie fans feel about that possibility as well.
I asked them all the same question first: “As a Ute/Aggie/Cougar and Jazz fan why or why wouldn’t it bother you if Jimmer is in a Jazz uniform next year.” A few were asked more questions.
Lets start with the Ute fans. Chris started things off. (Follow him on twitter @UTESnJAZZ, you won’t regret it).
“First of all, as Jazz fan, I’m not a player fan, I’m a team fan. I’m grateful for what players do for the Jazz, but only as far as they help the team win. If Kobe or Pau (who I really dislike) played for the Jazz tomorrow, I’d be a Kobe or Pau fan tomorrow. Therefore, If Jimmer helps the Jazz win I don’t care where he came from.
Second, as a Ute fan, I said this about Jimmer earlier this season: My relationship with Jimmer was the same as Cougarfan’s was with Eric Weddle. My team was in the dumps and he was too good and too classy not to like. Jimmer was fun to watch, but more importantly he was never a jackass off the court. He never once said anything along the lines of an Austin Collie/Max Hall comment. He was a class act, you had to take your hat off to him.”
Next Question: If Jimmer ended up being a detriment to the Jazz, would it bother you even more that he was a former Cougar?
“I doubt it, could he be any worse than Rafa (Rafael Araujo) was? If anything it gives you a little more ammo to poke fun at cougarfan. As a Jazz fan I would never root against any Jazz player regardless of their past teams.”
Here’s what Jordan had to say.
“I think Jimmer is an incredible player. He has done things no other player in Utah college’s history has ever done. I don’t think he is overrated, I just got sick of the fans and their antics as an excuse to say Lo here & Lo there about Jimmer & BYU. I think he would bring a huge following to the Jazz and that would be great for the franchise. Do I think he is the next Blake Griffin and his dunks or Derek Rose and his crazy drives to the hoop, no. I don’t think his range out at the three point line will be a signature for him like Griffin’s jumps and Rose’s speed and agility but he will be a solid player with the ability to score when needed and maybe that’s all the Jazz need right now. Someone who will play ball and answer the call when needed.”
Q: If the “Jimmermania” from the fans continued while he played for the Jazz, would it bother you to the point where you’d prefer him to be traded or seek another destination in free agency?
“If the “Jimmermania” fans forget that he is a former BYU player and not a current one I think it will get old. Not just as a Ute fan but as a sports fan. I like to keep tabs on former Utes like Eric Weddle and Andre Miller, and I’ll admit I am a Chargers fan based solely on the fact that Eric Weddle plays there but I don’t over do it by constantly referring to his college career and living HIS glory days. I fear many fans may live in the Past-Jimmer Days, not the Current Ones.”
Up next representing the Utes was Aaron.
“As a Ute fan it doesn’t bother me because I think Jimmer’s game fits well in Utah regardless of the college he played for. It’s yet to be seen, but if he makes the Jazz better then why would it matter? I think his assets are something the Jazz lacked last year as a team. They need someone to stretch the defense and Jimmer can definitely do that.”
Q: If he ended up being a detriment, would his “former Cougar” status influence you to dislike him?
“No it wouldn’t. His play on the court would determine that.”
Lots of feedback from the Ute fans. There were two Trevor’s who both wouldn’t mind the idea of Fredette staying in Utah as a professional basketball player. Here’s what they had to say.
“It wouldn’t bother me. The Jazz need a shooter. … If he’s available at twelve they should take him, although it’s looking less likely that he will be. He’s proven himself in these workouts and would fit well into the system here. The BYU/Utah business is the past. It’s foolish to hold on to that and overlook pure talent. Not to mention the revenue he would generate for this small market team.
There was nothing more he could’ve done at BYU to prove he belongs. People more hyped than him have tanked. Jimmer is a classy guy. Nothing he has done should give anyone a reason to dislike him for playing at BYU. If he doesn’t pan out then he doesn’t pan out. But what if they pass him up and he blows up? I’d rather have taken the chance and have it be a mistake then sitting here five years from now watching him in the all-star game with another teams logo on his back.”
“I think he is a great player and would help the Jazz out quite a bit around the perimeter. My biggest issue would be the fans with the whole Jimmermania. His senior year there were quite a few extreme BYU fans that took it too far. I just got really annoyed by it … I really hope he gets into a Jazz jersey as long as the BYU Jimmermania fans tone it down a bit.”
It sounds like the Ute fans are all for Jimmer sticking around town. They have much respect for his abilities and would love to see him help out in the ESA. He does have a good track record in that building. However, it seems they all agree that it was the BYU fans that made Fredette’s time at Brigham Young one they couldn’t wait to be over.
Next up … Jimmer’s own BYU fans. The first interviewee was Jake. Here’s what he had to say to my first question:
“It wouldn’t bother me to have Jimmer play for the Jazz, because it would make it very easy to watch him play live, and that would be a great bonus. As a BYU fan, you just want to see someone like Jimmer succeed no matter where he plays. I think he will be a great fit for most organizations. His immediate effect depends on where he goes obviously, but I see him as a main contributor to his team regardless where he is playing. Everyone doubts his defensive ability, but like he has always done, he proves his doubters wrong. He thrives on that.”
The next Cougar fan I asked was Eric.
“I think it would be a lot of fun if the Jazz drafted Jimmer. I think it would be something to get Jazz fans excited again after a crappy season, and unless he is a complete flop (he won’t be), Jimmer will put butts in seats at the ESA. The only thing that would bother me is having BYU haters whining about it.”
Q: Do you think that if he does become a successful NBA player with the Jazz that it would irritate the said “BYU Haters”?
“I think that there will be people hoping he fails just because he attended BYU—so yes, it will drive them crazy if he is successful in the NBA and especially if he is successful in a Jazz uniform.”
Q: If he doesn’t have a success with the Jazz do you think it would trigger more animosity from his anti-BYU critics, or would it be just like any other NBA player?
“I’m not sure…I kind of think that there are people who will enjoy seeing him fail so much that it won’t bother them that it hurts the Jazz. There will be a lot of “see I told you so”. It really is sad because these are folks who would absolutely love the Jimmer if he would have gone to school anyplace other than BYU.”
And lastly, there were a few Aggie fans who chimed in though they didn’t seem as accepting as the Ute fans. Riley was short and to the point:
“I think he gets way too much hype from the locals here. I would be fine if he was in a Jazz uniform, but I don’t think he is a top 10 pick. If they get him at 12 I would be fine with that.”
Josh didn’t have much to say on the topic, but he’s not opposed:
“…Honestly it doesn’t bother me. …I just think the Jazz should take the best player available. All biased aside, they just need to do what’s best for the franchise.”
Casey was the last person I asked. He’s a big time Aggie fan and recognizes why the Jazz would need a guy like Jimmer, but he also has his own reservations on that thought:
“As an avid Aggie fan, here is my .02 cents about the Jazz drafting James Fredette: I would be OK if the Jazz drafted Jim with the #12 pick of the draft. Excited? No. Mad? No. But Okay with it.
I love watching basketball, especially the Aggies and the Jazz. I just watched one of the most frustrating Jazz seasons in a long time. Not because of the “Trade” or because of the changing of the guards. It was frustrating to watch the Jazz miss so many wide open threes. Korver was deadly with the spot up 3 the previous year, reflected by his shooting percentage. I was nervous when they didn’t bring him back. In his place we get the Veteran Bell. Many thought (hoped) it would be the reemergence of the pre-Phoenix Bell. That didn’t happen. Miles was streaky. Unfortunately, I didn’t think he would come through in crunch time. There was a very large void in the rotation which Fredette could actually come in and contribute. I would view this addition as something similar to Jason Terry’s role for Dallas or Korver for the Bulls. I think he needs to have the lasso snugged up a bit, because I do NOT want him taking that many shots or playing that many minutes. I watched BYU play their final game of the tournament and thought he single handedly kept them in the game, and then shot them out of the game.
Would I ever buy his Jersey? Ha ha, HELL NO. But I would be cheering for him to help the Jazz succeed.”
Regardless of where our loyalties lie, it seems that all of us Utahns would be in favor of Fredette contributing that long range of his to the Utah Jazz team. It is something the Jazz lacked much of last season. When we lost Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver to free agency, we didn’t replace the perimeter shooting they provided for us and it showed all season long. Based on what we’ve been hearing from Jimmer’s pre-draft workouts, that range hasn’t left him. That skill has stuck with him and as we’ve just seen in the NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks, the ability to spread out the floor with three point shooting is a dangerous weapon for a team to possess. The possibilities seem limitless.
Until draft day.