Jimmer’s all-star game has officially come and gone. What did we learn? Well, nothing really, but it was fun to see some of the best ex-college players/soon to be NBA rookies showcase their skills in what was the closest thing to an NBA game we might experience ‘til 2012. It was flashy, it was sloppy, and very over-hyped, but with what we currently have on our plate, it ought to be worth speculating about. Who impressed, who unimpressed, and whose rap album will never find its way on my iPod?
Those who impressed
Kenneth Faried – PF, Denver Nuggets
The most active, athletic, and NBA-ready talent on the court was undoubtedly Kenneth Faried. Faried’s offensive game leaves a ton to be desired but he makes up for it in virtually every other aspect of the game. Faried seemed to be one of those players that somehow is always in the right place at the right time. He is relentless down low on both sides of the court and runs the floor as well as any PF in the league today. After watching tonight’s event, I’d say Denver should feel ok about Kenyon Martin’s departure to China.
Kawhi Leonard – SF, San Antonio Spurs
Leonard has reportedly added 15 pounds of muscle and looks physically ready to compete on any level. Leonard’s ability to score, rebound, and defend looked effortless. In today’s NBA, teams struggle mightily to find ways to match up athletically with the LeBrons, the Rudy Gays, the Andre Igoudalas and the Kevin Durrants of the league. Kawhi Leonard appears to be as good a candidate as any to guard the other team’s best player/athlete night in and night out. If Kawhi continues to improve his outside jump shot, the Spurs will, as usual, appear as the winner of last year’s draft.
Malcolm Lee – SG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Malcolm Lee = Wesley Matthews 2.0. Last year, Malcolm Lee earned the reputation of being perhaps the best perimeter defender in the draft. After watching the all-star game, I would concur. I’ve never seen anyone defend Jimmer Fredette the way Lee did. I first watched Malcolm Lee play at UCLA midway through last season, and the first thing I thought of was how similar he looked to Wesley Matthews. I absolutely LOVE this kid’s game and think he’s in to surprise many people.
Tobias Harris – SF/PF, Milwaukee Bucks
I’ve never been much of a fan until I saw him play in person. Harris surprised me with his ability to do it all. He can shoot from outside, get into the paint, get to the line, and defend multiple positions on the floor. Harris’ biggest issue will be finding his NBA position. He’s currently a bit of a tweener, but there’s no doubt he has the skill set to develop into a nice player in this league.
Isaiah Thomas – PG, Sacramento Kings
This little guy had the Jimmer-crazed crowd chanting for his return to the game due to his electric style of play. After the game, Thomas had the quote of the night; “I’ve never been out here before, but after that, I’ve got to make a few more trips. It was weird, but they love me and I love them. The crowd was unbelievable.” Thomas’ first step is lightning, and his fun-spirited, me-against-the-world style of play (a la fellow former Dawg Nate Robinson) will carry this small man through a big league.
Kemba Walker – PG, Charlotte Bobcats
We’ve all heard the joke about why LeBron James can’t break a dollar? -Because he only has three quarters. Well if that’s true, consider Kemba Walker the anti-LBJ. I’m still not completely sold on Kemba’s future as an NBA player as I have no idea how he will play for 3 quarters of every game, but his ability to turn in up when the lights come on at the end of the game is remarkable. Walker’s role in the all-star game was quiet until the 4th quarter when he absolutely could not be stopped for a 5 minute stretch that put the game out of reach for team Jimmer.
Those who unimpressed
Jimmer Fredette – PG, Sacramento Kings
Jimmer Fredette’s performance was perhaps the most telling performance of anybody’s of the night. This was the first time we’ve had the chance to see Fredette play against an entire team of NBA talent, and Fredette was noticably frustrated for the better part of the game. Fredette was by no means bad, nor am I worried about his career in the NBA, but Jimmer is simply going to have to learn to be effective without the ball in his hands. I counted one play during the entire game where one of Fredette’s teammates broke down the defense and found Jimmer for a spot-up 3. Fredette cashed in on the triple and showed a glimpse of exactly what I think he’ll make his money doing; spreading the floor and killing defenses that get lazy. It was obvious, however, that Jimmer’s matchup against strong defenders such as Malcolm Lee (this wasn’t the first time Lee’s faced and frustrated Jimmer) will make things awfully difficult for him to create the scoring opportunities he’s used to.
Chris Singleton – SF, Washington Wizards
Finding a spot for Chris Singleton in this article was difficult as his defense was every bit as good as advertised. Singleton is big, strong, athletic, and can really get off the floor to contest shots. This skill set and versatility was displayed as I saw Singleton successfully defend four different positions on the floor. Although this was nice to see, Singleton’s offense was probably the primary reason team Jimmer got blown out like they did. During the combine, I heard Singleton had been working really hard to improve his outside shot. If this is true, I do not want to see what it looked like before. I get that anyone can have a bad shooting night, but Singleton’s inability to adjust for his 2 for 6,000 shooting percentage from deep really cost his team.
Bismack Biyombo – C, Charlotte Bobcats
Five minutes into the game, I leaned over to my neighbor and claimed Biyombo to be the NBA’s next lottery bust. Although I was ultimately unimpressed with his performance, he changed my mind by game’s end. Biyombo did a nice job getting better as the game went on and learned how to attack different matchups he was given. His offensive game is nothing short of non-existent, but he must have altered every single shot that came down the lane. I remained unimpressed, however, due to the fact that the biggest defender Biyombo had to face was the 6-7, grossly under-sized Kenneth Faried. With such a physical advantage, I felt Biyombo could have left a much bigger print on the game than he actually did.
TJ Fredette – Rapper, New York
TJ Fredette pleasantly surprised the audience with a rap concert [Editor’s note: ‘Pleasantly surprised’ is a euphemism.] during halftime with his sidekick MC Octagon (you know I have to give Octagon a shout!). TJ felt it “would only be right” if he gave the crowd a “sneak peak” at a song off his soon-to-be-released album. I can’t remember what the song was called, nor did I catch a single word of it, but it sure got me pumped for the third quarter to start.
If you saw the game, share your opinion! Let us know what you thought.
Oh, and is the lockout over yet?!