SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Sacramento Kings found a shooter they hope they can eventually pair in the backcourt with Tyreke Evans and a high-profile player to help in marketing when they ended up with high-scoring guard Jimmer Fredette after making a draft-day trade Thursday with Charlotte and Milwaukee.
The Kings moved from seventh to 10th in the draft, while also acquiring swingman John Salmons from the Bucks and sending guard Beno Udrih to Charlotte. That created a need in Sacramento for a shooter in the backcourt who could also play some point guard, making Fredette an attractive option.
Fredette won nearly every player of the year award at BYU last season after leading the nation in scoring with 28.9 points per game, including the Naismith, Wooden, AP and the USBWA awards. With his seemingly unlimited shooting range and a long list of highlights, Fredette was one of the most popular players in college basketball.
That popularity could benefit the Kings, who nearly moved to Anaheim after this past season and are hoping to generate enough interest to build a new arena in Sacramento. The city must have a new arena plan by March 1 or the franchise will likely relocate.
Fredette topped 30 points in 16 of his 37 games at BYU last season, including three 40-point games and a career-high 52 in one game against New Mexico. He also averaged 4.3 assists per game and made 124 3-pointers in helping BYU reach the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament before falling to Florida.
There were questions heading into the draft about Fredette's ability to defend quicker and bigger NBA guards, but the Kings believed the 6-foot-2 Fredette would work well in a backcourt with Evans, who won the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 2009-10. The 6-6 Evans has the ability to match up with bigger guards defensively, easing the load on Fredette.
The Kings also have Marcus Thornton in what figures to be a three-guard rotation in the backcourt. Thornton averaged 21.3 points in 23 games for Sacramento after being acquired in a midseason trade with New Orleans.
While Evans' strengths offensively are as a slasher who is able to score in the paint, Fredette gives the Kings one of the best outside shooters who should have room to operate on an offense that also includes last year's first-round pick, center DeMarcus Cousins.
Fredette also gives the Kings another ballhandler and distributor to take pressure off Evans, who is not a natural point guard. Evans was hindered this past season by plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Evans played just 57 games, averaging 17.8 points, 5.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game. Those numbers were all down from his spectacular rookie season.
But the Kings are hoping a healthy Evans, a more seasoned Cousins and now Fredette will help improve a franchise that has had five straight losing seasons. Sacramento went 24-58 last season, their third straight year with fewer than 30 wins. Washington and Minnesota are the only other teams that have not reached 30 wins in any of the past three seasons.
The Kings drafted forward Bismack Biyombo of Congo with the seventh pick that they sent to Charlotte. Guards Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker went with the next two picks, creating a natural comparison with Fredette over the next few seasons.
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Salmons spent two-plus years with the Kings. His best year was in 2008-09 when he averaged 18.3 points per game before being dealt to Chicago during the season. In nine years in the NBA, Salmons has averaged 10.1 points and 3.1 rebounds.
Udrih spent the past four years with the Kings, averaging a career-high 13.7 points per game last season.
The Kings also got UCLA small forward Tyler Honeycutt with their first second-round pick, 35th overall. Honeycutt averaged 12.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game as a sophomore last season for the Bruins.