I need to be really, really, really aggressive. Especially on offense, so I think that's what I'm going to work on this year. —Jimmer Fredette
Note: Jimmer's two highlights begin 2 minutes and 30 seconds into the video.
When Jimmer Fredette was drafted by the Kings, BYU and Sacramento Kings fans expected him to bring his gritty, aggressive playing style and his extraordinary shooting skills with him. But a lockout-shortened season and inconsistent play put Fredette in NBA limbo.
SI.com blog A Royal Pain says there's talk among Kings fans that Fredette is an NBA "draft bust," and accompanying that talk are some trade rumors.
To his credit, Fredette experienced something few lottery picks have had to deal with in their first seasons — a lockout shortened season. Fredette was expected to go from rookie to scoring phenom without the benefit of a normal training camp and preseason, a tall order for any draftee, no matter the position.
Fredette also struggled to fill an unclear role. At BYU, Fredette was the man. He took opposing defenses on himself and won most of the time. In Sacramento, he was asked to facilitate Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, limiting himself to perimeter shooting and the rare penetrating move.
When he shot, he did fairly well. For the 2011-12 season, he made 78 of his 216 3-point attempts — 36 percent — averaging 7.6 points. But it wasn't long before Fredette faced competition from his bench mates who were better facilitators than him. The rise of Isaiah Thomas from, as Cowbell Kingdom puts it, Mr. Irrelevant to starting point guard was likely as unexpected as it was threatening to Fredette's starting job.
By season's end, Fredette only played 18 and a half minutes per game, a testament to the fact that Thomas had made the most out of his opportunity.
This summer, the Kings basically handed him the keys to the team in summer league play and asked him to dominate. At times he played well. At others not so much, including a 121-87 walloping delivered by last season's worst team. In that game, Fredette scored seven points on 2-for-11 shooting and missed all eight of his 3-point attempts.
If Fredette wants to get off the bench, or even stick around in Sacramento, his performance has to improve, and Fredette says he knows that.
"They expect me to go out and be more aggressive this year," Fredette told the Sacramento Bee. "Just be assertive, be a leader when you're on the floor and play as hard as you can like you always have. That's what got me to this position. And I need to be really, really, really aggressive. Especially on offense, so I think that's what I'm going to work on this year."
Fredette's preseason play hasn't made too many highlight reels, and the statistic difference from last preseason to this preseason is remarkable.
Fredette's numbers are down in virtually every statistical category, particularly in shooting percentage and minutes. In the 11 minutes he played against Phoenix on Monday, Fredette committed five turnovers. His best preseason game this year came against the Lakers on Oct. 19. In that game, he played 23 minutes, scored 14 points and didn't turn the ball over. He also took six 3-point shots, making two of them.
Fredette is likely to not get very many more opportunities to stake his claim to NBA stardom as a member of the Kings — his competition is much stiffer this year. The International Business Times noted Fredette will be competing with Evans, Marcus Thornton, John Salmons, recent addition from Houston Aaron Brooks and the aforementioned Thomas.
Perhaps Fredette's best hope is his 3-point game. The International Business Times noted that Fredette is the purest shooter of Sacramento's backcourt and that there is still need for a combo guard. Also, Fredette reportedly took private training sessions from respected NBA trainer Rob McClanaghan in an effort to improve his athleticism and his release.
If Fredette doesn't make the most out of what remains in preseason in the few days that remain before the season begins, he'll likely find a comfortable home on the bench, and eventually the trade block.