Utah Jazz: Well-rested Jimmer in town; Earl Watson to play?

Published: Thursday, Nov. 22 2012 9:29 p.m. MST

Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette, left, shoots under pressure from Los Angeles Clippers guard Randy Foye during the first half of their NBA basketball game, Saturday, April 7, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Mark J. Terrill, AP

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SALT LAKE CITY — Jimmer Fredette should be well-rested Friday night for the Sacramento Kings' first visit to EnergySolutions Arena.

The former BYU star only played eight seconds in the Kings' 113-97 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.

On top of that, Fredette is playing just 9.1 minutes an outing in his second season — less than half the time he saw as a rookie.

That limited playing time explains Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin's response to a question about whether or not the 2011 NCAA player of the year has improved.

"I haven't seen him on the floor enough to give an honest assessment of that," Corbin said at Thursday's practice.

Though Fredette hasn't seen much action this season, the Jazz coach remains well aware of the 23-year-old's forte.

"He can hit big shots," Corbin said. "I know that."

Though he's playing 9.5 minutes a game less than his rookie campaign, Fredette is averaging 6.1 points and 1.1 assists compared to 7.6 points and 1.8 assists in 2011-12. He's also shooting 51.2 percent from the field after struggling to connect on just 38.6 percent of shots last year. He's faring slightly better from 3-point range this year, too — 37.5 percent vs. 36.1 percent.

Even so, Fredette hasn't been able to find consistent time behind guards Isaiah Thomas, Aaron Brooks and Tyreke Evans.

"Jimmer is who he is. He's still trying to find his way," Corbin said. "He's on a team that's loaded at his position."

Corbin has fond memories of meeting with Fredette when he worked out for the Jazz at Utah's practice facility prior to being picked 10th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft two Junes ago.

"He's a good fellow," Corbin said. "I really enjoyed the visit we had in the pre-draft. I enjoy who he is and I do wish him well."

Jimmer fans, no doubt, only hope the guy who led the Cougars to the Sweet Sixteen two years ago is given more than eight seconds in his return to his college state.

SEASON DEBUT?: Earl Watson hasn't played a real game since last April when he underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, but that could soon change.

Watson was recently medically cleared to fully participate in practice, and Corbin said his veteran point guard is getting close to making his season debut. The coach said Watson "looked good" at practice earlier this week.

"He's excited to be back and he's excited to go through everything. We'll see how he responds (to Thursday's practice)," Corbin said. "If he can go and everything's well, he'll be in uniform (Friday night)."

While the return of their gutsy and tough-nosed is certainly a good thing, it will also present a P.T. conundrum for Corbin. Jamaal Tinsley has averaged 17.4 minutes as Mo Williams' primary back up.

"Jamaal's been really good for us. We'd like to make sure that we're OK with Earl and Jamaal and Mo," Corbin said. "It's difficult to play three guys with the rotation and give them the minutes that they need to feel a good rhythm, but we'll get it worked out."

QUIRKY SCHEDULE: The Jazz host the Kings Friday night, and the teams face each other in SacTown on Saturday night.

That type of unusual scheduling reminds Corbin of the funky lockout slate.

"You're starting to see more of that kind of stuff going on," Corbin said. "Maybe they've done some studies to figure out that it's better to do it that way."

It's one of two situations in which the Jazz and their opponent play each other in back-to-back nights in different cities (Utah and Portland have a mini series in February.

Corbin doesn't mind playing the same team in consecutive games, but he'd prefer to have a day off for travel and to have more time to make adjustments.

"We've played back-to-back games before, you get that," he said. "But (play) a team here and then go and play the same team the next night in their building is a little different, but it is what it is."

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