What Does Jimmer Fredette's NBA Future Look Like?

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What Does Jimmer Fredette's NBA Future Look Like?
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It may be too soon to slap Jimmer Fredette with the dreaded "bust" label, but with the way he performed as a rookie with the Sacramento Kings, the mere thought of doing so is hardly premature.

Though, if Fredette winds up with the Oklahoma City Thunder as a backup point guard, as Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio suggests, the conversation about his NBA career could take a turn for the better.

The former BYU star and Naismith College Player of the Year averaged 7.6 points on a woeful 38.6-percent shooting from the field in 18.6 minutes per game during his debut season. What's more, the Kings were outscored by 14 points per 100 possessions that Jimmer spent on the floor.

Keep in mind, too, that Fredette was taken 10th overall in the 2011 NBA draft, ahead of such rookie studs as Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Iman Shumpert, Kenneth Faried, MarShon Brooks, Chandler Parsons and Isaiah Thomas.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Not that it's at all Jimmer's fault for where he landed in the draft. Nor should he be blamed entirely for his poor performance in Sacramento last season. The team as a whole was a lost cause, at least until Paul Westphal was fired and replaced by Keith Smart.

More importantly for Jimmer, he proved to be a poor fit with Sacramento's particular collection of personnel. The Kings tried to slot in the 6'2" Fredette at point guard, even though his skill set was better suited to shooting guard, especially on offense. The wings with whom he played (i.e. Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton and John Salmons) were all ball dominant, and pairing Fredette with Isaiah Thomas, the only passer of note at guard in Sacramento, would've been far too much of a defensive liability.

Now that the Kings have added Aaron Brooks—another scoring guard—to the mix, Fredette figures to find it that much more difficult to live up to the lofty (if considerably outsized) expectations with which he arrived in California's capital.

Frankly, there was no way Jimmer would've come close to matching the 28.9 points per game he posted as a senior at BYU during his rookie campaign, if even the 16.2 points he averaged as a sophomore. His slowness of foot and lack of athleticism didn't matter so much in college, where he could rely on a crafty dribble to get his shot off against middling competition and deep range to do so when handling the ball wasn't as attractive an option.

The Maloofs, who own the Kings, celebrated Jimmer's drafting with a giant sign at their Palms Resort in Las Vegas. Photo Credit: DJ MacKinnon

Furthermore, Fredette didn't have the luxury with the Kings of playing in an offense that was designed to get him shots, as was the case during his days with the Cougars. In essence, Jimmer was just the latest in a line of collegiate sharpshooters, including JJ Redick and Adam Morrison, who starred in schemes in which the other four players on the floor were tasked with setting screens and creating opportunities for them.

This isn't to suggest that a move to OKC would open up more opportunities of this sort for Jimmer, but rather that he'd be able to carve out a more reasonable niche there, as a small but important cog in a much bigger winning machine. More specifically, Fredette could slide in as Russell Westbrook's backup at point guard and serve as a shooting specialist with the second unit.

For all of his shortfalls as a rookie, Fredette still managed to knock down a respectable 36.1 percent of his three-point attempts. As it happens, the Thunder could use such a specialist, considering that Kevin Durant and James Harden are the only reliable long-range gunners in Scott Brooks' regular rotation at the moment.

Such a switch makes even more sense for the Thunder when considering that Eric Maynor, the current second-stringer at the point, is coming off major knee surgery and will be seeking a new deal as a restricted free agent next summer. OKC can ill afford to splash cash at Maynor (and fellow benchwarmer and free-agent-to-be Daequan Cook), especially if they're to have any hope of retaining James Harden long term without biting the luxury-tax bullet.

Fredette, meanwhile, has affordable team options for 2013-14 and 2014-15 and wouldn't be a restricted free agent until the summer of 2015. If Jimmer succeeds in new digs and a new role, then the Thunder can keep him around on the cheap.

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And if not, they can part ways with him in a pinch.

Chances are, the Thunder could take Jimmer off the Kings' hands without much consequence, given Sacramento's glut of backcourt "ball hogs" and how poorly he fit in among them last season.

Wherever Jimmer winds up, though, he can only hope he'll be prescribed a role that better suits his particular talents as a shooter. Fredette may never live up to his draft position, but if he can find a home in the NBA that allows him to be less Morrison and more Redick—to shine from time to time and contribute meaningfully to a team's pursuit of victory—then he may yet be able to avoid falling in with the busts of basketball history.

Assuming that he hasn't already.

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