BYU guard Jimmer Fredette is the big name coming into any of the pre-NBA Draft workouts the Utah Jazz have had.
Today, he made good on his early promise to work out for the Jazz, despite some saying that the team itself is the wrong fit for Jimmer’s end-to-end playing style.
The BYU star also got half his wish Wednesday at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake City, lining up against Connecticut guard–and good friend–Kemba Walker.
Walker, from the defending national champion Huskies, is projected by media sources to go anywhere between picks No. 3 to No. 10 when the 2011 NBA Draft gets underway next Thursday in New Jersey.
Walker also has the distinction of being runner-up in virtually every Player of the Year award to Fredette. Both are the types of players that the Jazz usually shy from; neither is particularly good in a pick and roll situation and both like to play you 1-on-1.
The other third to the equation, Kentucky guard Brandon Knight, who unlike Jimmer and Kemba is good coming off screens, decided not to take up Jimmer’s generous public offer for a showdown.
This is likely in lieu that Knight is the projected No. 3 pick, the high lottery selection the Jazz currently possess eight days before the draft.
Considering that Jimmer is fast moving up the draft boards in the eyes of many insiders, it might have been wise for Knight to have pulled out of today’s workout.
By Knight withdrawing himself from today’s workout and working out alone tomorrow with Utah, it sent the message that the Kentucky guard definitely sees himself as the Jazz’ third pick, and from all early indicators, the team is very high on him.
Other players who come to mind for a later audition for the Jazz’ coveted No. 3 spot include Knight’s Kentucky teammate Enes Kanter and Arizona forward/tweener Derrick Williams.
Even UK coach John Calipari has come to the aid of Knight–and the controversial Kanter, also a UK player–telling Salt Lake City media that the Jazz will definitely have made the right choice, if either of his players were selected by Utah next week.
It’s pretty obvious that Jimmer, or any other potential first-round pick for that matter, would love to make the extra $3 million per year salary that being a No. 3 pick would bring.
The only way to do that? Take on both Walker and Knight and prove to Jazz brass that Jimmer is their man, despite all the naysayers who pick on his defense, his lateral quicks (which he disproved at the draft combine in Chicago) and any other excuse that they can think of.
Sadly, the much-anticipated showdown of the guards didn’t take place.
Instead, today’s workout looked more like an audition for the No. 12 spot that the Jazz also hold. If either Jimmer or Walker drop to the No. 12 position, consider it highly likely that either guard will be picked.
The Jazz also brought in guards Senario Hillman of Alabama and Malcolm Lee of UCLA to rough up Jimmer and Walker a bit and see what the high-scoring guards can do on defense.
The focus for Jimmer in today’s workout was defense, and to prove to Jazz brass he has the ability to play both ends of the floor.
Both Hillman and Lee are known for their stops; Hillman was Alabama’s all time steals leader and Lee was named to the All Pac-10 defensive team.
Both guards are supposedly a direct contrast to Jimmer and Walker, in that neither finishes around the rim at the frequency with which Jimmer and Walker do. Also, both Hillman and Lee are projected as mid-to-late first round picks.
The Jazz also worked out another Kentucky forward, Josh Harrellson, as well as Paul Carter of Illinois-Chicago, a interesting, well-traveled, athletic player who languished on Minnesota’s bench for two years until transferring to UIC.