Dana Greene - Different paths for Jimmer and Lillard

Dana Greene - Different paths for Jimmer and Lillard

Jimmer Fredette and Damian Lillard have gone in two entirely opposite directions since entering the NBA.
Over the last few days, we have seen two former local college stars come back to Utah with their respective NBA teams to play against the Jazz.

The results couldn't have possibly been more polar opposite.

Jimmer Fredette and Damian Lillard were both incredibly talented players coming out of college. Jimmermania took the nation by storm at BYU, while Lillard had more talent than Weber State knew what to do with.

Both were lottery picks in the NBA Draft, but only one of them is on the path to stardom.

Perhaps the Sacramento Kings selected Jimmer a little too high with the 10th overall pick. It was not a very strong draft class to begin with, but Jimmer was expected to become an immediate contributor in Sacramento. Sadly, he never got the chance.

A coaching change from Paul Westphal to Keith Smart was largely to blame for Jimmer riding the bench for most of his first two seasons in the NBA. When he does get playing time, it appears as though Jimmer is trying to do too much, knowing he has very limited minutes to make a statement.

On one night, Jimmer will get to play 25 minutes, like he did against the Knicks last week. He made six of eight shots and scored 14 points. But other nights, like Monday night against the Jazz, he played 13 minutes, missed all five of his shots from the field and committed three turnovers. He was awful. But you could tell he was out of his element trying to create plays when they weren't there to be made.

Jimmer is in a horrible situation in Sacramento. The Kings have talent, but no discipline. They don't know on a nightly basis whether their hot-headed star DeMarcus Cousins will even be around at the end of a game anymore.

But while Jimmer is struggling and desperately needs a change of scenery to have a chance to succeed in the NBA, Lillard is thriving in Portland.

The former Wildcat just put 49 points on the Jazz in two games this past weekend, and he's only going to get better.

Not only does Lillard have explosive quickness and can score from anywhere on the court, unlike Jimmer, he's a true point guard who is always looking to pass first.

Lillard is in the right situation with a coach and general manager willing to hand the keys of the franchise over to him. He also has pretty good talent surrounding him with the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews.

Lillard is getting 39 minutes per game, and he deserves every single one of them.

Jimmer is playing 14 minutes per game, and sometimes looks like he doesn't even belong in the league.

I still think there is hope for Jimmer, but only if he gets out of Sacramento. Lillard, on the other hand, is on the road to becoming a superstar.

It's amazing that two guys who have so much in common, who had so much success in college, are on two entirely different paths as professionals.

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