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Dick Harmon: Jimmer Fredette is facing a critical crossroads in his quest to prove himself in the NBA

Published: Monday, July 16 2012 8:34 p.m. MDT

Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette stretches during an NBA basketball minicamp at the team's training facility, Tuesday, July 10, 2012, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Rich Pedroncelli, ASSOCIATED PRESS

It comes in flashes.

It makes appearances as bites and snippets of his famed game; scoring as if to music, penetrating the lane with moves and finishes, attacking double teams with reckless abandon.

But it's not all where it should be yet for Jimmer Fredette this summer.

With a sense of urgency Monday night, after the Sacramento Kings acquired point guard Aaron Brooks, Fredette put up 30 points on Houston in a loss. He began 1-of-6 from the field, then exploded with three straight third-quarter buckets and attacked the hoop like a banshee.

But in two previous games, he didn't look like this at all.

Today, Fredette is in the "Summer of his Future" as a basketball player. And after a long weekend in the Las Vegas Summer League, he's struggling just like he did in a shortened NBA season.

This is a confidence issue.

It's like he's conflicted as to whether he should or he shouldn't be Jimmer. Today, the Sacramento Kings are telling him to lay it all on the line and to be himself, but he goes cross-eyed at times.

So, what's up?

Whatever it is, he needs to get it fixed quick.

Fredette was 2-of-11 against the Bobcats last Friday. He was pressured and hounded, and reports say he looked uncomfortable most of the game. It was a microcosm of his rookie season.

The next night, he again struggled in a win over the Lakers. After the first two summer games, he was 1-of-14 from threeland, and critics are lining up.

Fredette hasn't been the same since leaving Provo. He's had to endure major egos, a coaching change and a team's changing offensive philosophy his first season in Sacramento.

He's had a few streaks of a hot hand, but generally speaking, he has struggled.

He averaged 7.6 points and 36 percent accuracy from beyond the arc during his first season as a pro. He tried to change his game, to be more pleasing to his teammates as the anti-ball hog. Along the way, he quit being aggressive and lost his killer mindset.

This July, there is no work stoppage or a short summer with no training camp or summer league. This time, he's got to adjust, grow and execute, but he can't do so without confidence.

And now he's a newlywed — starting a whole new life in a league that's no stranger to cheating, divorce and domestic lawsuits.

I think part of Fredette's challenge is the extreme comfort he found playing under BYU coach Dave Rose.

It was a perfect nesting place for Fredette to play the kind of game he is capable of. Rose gave him the green light. His teammates took a lockstep role and supported his type of game by emotionally protecting his back on and off the court.

Under Rose, Fredette's range was the entire court. That does something to a shooter's mindset. Fredette fed off his penetration moves and shots, and it fired up his outside confidence. In the NBA, he rarely attacks the paint like he did at BYU.

"Jimmer has a gift," Kings coach Keith Smart said before the Lakers game over the weekend at Cox Pavilion, "but he has to be himself. He took 20 shots in college and made nine of them.

"We need him to do more of that. I just told him to be aggressive when he has the ball and when he doesn't have the ball. The rest of it will come."

Like a free-throw shooter or putter in golf, confidence and rhythm are everything.

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