Jimmer Fredette is one of the biggest stars college basketball has seen in a long time. He's scored 2,599 career points, he's got a verified Twitter account with nearly 20,000 followers, and he's got one of the most loyal fan bases in the world in the Mormon community of Provo, Utah.
He's something of a hometown hero after four great years at Brigham Young. And there's a chance, as the Utah Jazz enter this week's NBA draft with the No. 4 and No. 12 picks, that Jimmer could be staying in the Beehive State for many years to come.
That might turn out to be an incredible feel-good story.
It also might become a PR disaster of epic proportions. If the Jazz indeed end up taking the local hero in the lottery on Thursday night, time will tell which turns out to be the case.
Everyone loves it when the local guy pans out. Derrick Rose was born and raised in Chicago; he's three years into a magnificent career with the Bulls. He's the only MVP in franchise history besides Michael Jordan, and the youngest MVP the league has ever seen.
LeBron James was a similar success story once upon a time, before he took his talents to South Beach and slammed that book shut. The Akron, Ohio, native had seven successful years with the nearby Cleveland Cavaliers, winning two MVPs and leading them to their only Finals.
But for every D-Rose and every King James, there are a bunch of similar guys who don't pan out.
Jimmer could easily be one of the non-panner-outers. He's small, he's deficient defensively, and he's going to struggle to find a natural position in the NBA. He's also going to have to adjust his game drastically. He averaged 20.7 shots per game last season at BYU. He'll be lucky to see a quarter of those touches when he first enters the league.
And remember, the anti-"hometown hero" narrative sometimes turns out for the best. Consider the case of Steve Alford, the Indiana University star who fell to the Pacers at the No. 11 slot in the 1987 NBA draft. Donnie Walsh's front office passed up Alford; they were booed to death by their own fans at Madison Square Garden. Turns out Alford was a bust, and the guy Walsh took turned out to be Reggie Miller, the greatest player in Pacer history. Sometimes the feel-good story is a trap.
(Ironically, Walsh made headlines 24 years later by bringing Carmelo Anthony, a New York native, back to his hometown Knicks. Four months later, he was fired.)
The point is this: It's easy to be swayed by the emotional story. But emotion should never get in the way of good basketball sense.
These drafts are serious business. You make one good pick, it could lead to a championship one day. Make a bad one? Your team loses games, you lose your job, or maybe both.
This is no time for sentimentality. It's a time for shrewd front offices to build winning basketball teams. That's what the draft is really all about.
What do you think of Jimmer Fredette's future in the NBA? Share your thoughts below.
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