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

Published: Thursday, Sept. 3 2015 3:44 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) 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.

Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette, left, drives against guard Josh Akongnon, right, in scrimmage 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) Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette, left, drives against guard Josh Akongnon, right, in scrimmage 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)

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.

Jimmer Fredette  of Sacramento reacts as no foul is called on his last shot at the end of the game as the Sacramento Kings face the Utah Jazz in NBA basketball in Salt Lake City, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012.Kings face the Utah Jazz in NBA basketball in Salt Lake City, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Jimmer Fredette of Sacramento reacts as no foul is called on his last shot at the end of the game as the Sacramento Kings face the Utah Jazz in NBA basketball in Salt Lake City, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012.Kings face the Utah Jazz in NBA basketball in Salt Lake City, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

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.

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)  (Associated Press) 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) (Associated Press)

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."

Jimmer Fredette of Sacramento smiles as the Sacramento Kings face the Utah Jazz in NBA basketball in Salt Lake City, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Jimmer Fredette of Sacramento smiles as the Sacramento Kings face the Utah Jazz in NBA basketball in Salt Lake City, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

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

"He's a specialist, a great shooter," Kings assistant coach Alex English told reporters. "He's getting there. But he has to realize what his (strength is), and that's as a shooter."

Fredette isn't a defender, he isn't a break-down passer. He's a gunner who needs barrel oil.

Yes, he needs to excel with the pick and roll, come off screens better, get in the lane and break down defenders off the dribble.

But bottom line, he's a bullet pusher.

This past year with the Kings, I sensed a team with chemistry akin to oil and water. He was the rookie with an America lovefest going on and, well, jealousy ruled.

Under Rose, Fredette excelled because of the freedom Rose gives shooters. If shots didn't go down, they made up for it by increased volume. Fredette took shots from all over the court. That kind of liberal shooting would get a lot of players benched at other schools across the country. But Rose trusted Fredette's shot and banked on the fact one of his 30-footers had as good a chance as another player's 8-footer inside the key.

Jimmer Fredette, left, has struggled to find the same kind of comfort level with the Sacramento Kings that he enjoyed at BYU.  (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Jimmer Fredette, left, has struggled to find the same kind of comfort level with the Sacramento Kings that he enjoyed at BYU. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Fredette thrived under Rose with this mode of operation.

Such situations for Jimmer will never be the same again unless he's with the Globetrotters.

So the Kings and Jimmer have to come to an understanding. To get Jimmer in full bloom, they'll need to fertilize his garden with total support. That's tough to do in the big leagues, but Fredette must feel he has a contract to shoot, an invitation to take hesitancy completely out of his game.

I don't know if the Kings — or any other NBA team for that matter — will do that.

But it would be nice to see one try.

The Kings are saying all the right things this summer.

"At some point, he has to figure it out," according to his summer league coach, Bobby Jackson. "I want him to be a bit more aggressive on the pick-and-rolls. He's got to understand that's what guys are going to do because he can shoot the ball. He didn't shoot the ball well (Friday), but he's got to be the guy that's aggressive and gets us in our stuff. … He'll figure it out."

Paul Millsap, of Utah, blocks the path of Jimmer Fredette  of Sacramento as the Sacramento Kings face the Utah Jazz in NBA basketball in Salt Lake City, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Paul Millsap, of Utah, blocks the path of Jimmer Fredette of Sacramento as the Sacramento Kings face the Utah Jazz in NBA basketball in Salt Lake City, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

The time is ripe, at least on the surface with a club not quite ideal. The other Kings point guard, Isaiah Thomas, is sitting out the summer league to finish a degree at Washington. This is Fredette's time.

The question is, can he step far away from Rose's garden and find total reckless confidence at a different level? At BYU, Fredette shot often and made half his tries. That's pretty good.

Fredette needs to perform more like Monday night where he scored 30 points on 10-of-21 shooting, including 2-of-6 from beyond the arc, against the Rockets.

Can the Kings give Fredette 20 shots a game and refuse to wince when some come from just inside the half-court line?

That's what it'll take for Fredette to be Fredette once again.

email: dharmon@desnews.com twitter: harmonwrites

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