Dick Harmon: Should Jimmer vocally demand more minutes?
How should Jimmer Fredette feel about his inconsistent, sometimes non-existent opportunities to play for the Sacramento Kings?
Should he feel discouraged, depressed, resentful and angry? Is he dealing with emotions that embrace being disrespected, disheartened, dispirited, jealous, annoyed, irritated, impatient, and impeded his progress as a player?
Minutes for Fredette have come with no rhyme or reason. It’s an Easter egg hunt. He’s played 10 or 12 minutes one night, not at all for several games in a row and then been put in games for two- or three-minute appearances after sitting three quarters on the bench.
Yet, Fredette ranks No. 13 of NBA 3-point shooters, with an impressive 42.7 percent accuracy from distance, just ahead of Carmelo Anthony. A week ago, Fredette’s 3-point shooting was top 10 at 43.8 percent.
Last week, Fredette was easily the Kings' best at making bombs and stretching defenses. Tyreke Evans is second at .390. Among the Kings’ six guards, only Evans has a higher player efficiency rating than Fredette. And only Aaron Brooks has a higher “true shooting” percentage (57 to 56.4 percent) than Fredette.
This Kings team screams for offense. TV commentators both at home and on the road routinely say Sacramento appears to have no offense. Beat writers describe it as “one pass and shoot and no pass and shoot.”
This past week, Kings blogger James Ham, who noted Kings coach Keith Smart gets irritated when asked about Fredette’s playing time, said Fredette should be more vocal and demanding. He should speak up.
Wrote Ham: “First and foremost, he needs to fight. On a team filled with selfish players, the strong-willed voices are being heard and he is not. The last thing Jimmer will ever be is the squeaky wheel, but his unselfish approach has once again led him to become forgotten.”
Ham concludes, “Jimmer is a scorer. He needs minutes and he needs shots to be effective. He has always had the ability to quiet the naysayers with his play, but he needs to use his words this time. He has to demand playing time and when he gets his shot, he has to demand the ball.”
Ham might be correct; this is a competitive, dog-eat-dog league.
I don’t know if Jimmer should become a whiner, a complainer. Demanding time and the ball with his voice has never been his personality. Being bugged and understandably miffed has motivated him to work on his game and become better than a year ago, however.
This Kings team isn’t a club where a Jimmer voice would be heard. It would be a whimper whistle in a den of hyenas.
I thought of Hams' advice Sunday while sitting in a church pew in south Provo listening to my nephew Skylar Harmon speak to his congregation as a missionary bound for Milwaukee.
As a fourth-grader playing playground basketball one day, a friend accidentally poked Skylar in the eye. He thought nothing about it until he could not see out of that eye. He’s had six surgeries to repair his retina. After one of the last post-operation checkups, the doctor looked into his eye and said nothing, and that’s when he realized that his vision would never return.
With his whole life ahead of him, Skylar didn’t know what to think. Finally, he came to the conclusion the worst thing in the world would be to feel sorry for himself because it was unproductive. He got on with his life. He became the strongest football player on Timpview High’s football team and just finished redshirting at Snow College as a defensive end.
There’s a lesson there. It wasn’t what happened to Skylar but what he did with it. Same could be said for Fredette. He’s already proven this when he took his tough rookie year, learned from it and became a better player. He’s cut down on his turnovers, he plays better defense and has increased his game.
Griping doesn’t suit him. Neither does begging.
Doing it on this team certainly wouldn’t work.
Keith Smart once told me outside the Kings' locker room in Sacramento last year his team was loaded with alpha dogs — all of whom seek to mark their territory. His record shows he’s let them fight it out for the bone.
Rather than making vocal demands, Fredette might be better served to try to be a voice of humble reason in an army of ego-driven chaos. Picking up a trumpet with this crew is asking for trouble.
I’m reminded of some sound advice I came across this past week:
Talent is God-given. Be humble.
Fame is man-given. Be grateful.
Conceit is self-given. Be careful.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as @Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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