Jimmer Fredette: What Can the Sacramento Kings Expect out of Their Rookie?
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Even the most optimistic of basketball fans are beginning to conclude that all or a healthy majority of the upcoming 2011-12 NBA season will be lost due to the looming lockout, so writing a story about the impending season is like talking about new furniture for your house that is currently in foreclosure.
It's a shame the lockout is in place for all NBA cities, but perhaps none more so than Sacramento. It's been written ad nauseum that ownership had the moving vans packed and were absolutely prepared to vacate Sacramento for Anaheim last Spring.
But after a lengthy arbitration between the NBA Board of Governors, Commissioner David Stern and Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, Stern essentially demanded that Sacramento be given one more chance to construct a new arena that has been such a hot button topic for more than 10 years in California's capitol.
So with Kings fever again sweeping Northern California, after narrowly avoiding losing their beloved franchise, The Kings added more intrigue to what already would've been considerably more fan support with the drafting of Jimmer Fredette.
It didn't take long for Jimmer fever to catch on in Sacramento. As the Kings routinely do every year for their rookies, they hosted a meet and greet session at a local mall a few days after the NBA Draft.
In recent seasons, it's been the fans' first chance to acquaint themselves with players like Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins. When Fredette made his Sacramento debut in late June at the same mall, the attendance was so overwhelming the nearest highway was in a gridlock for more than 90 minutes.
Fredette will come in with more hype than any rookie in the Sacramento era, by a country mile. From a national perspective, he's again brought attention to an NBA city that desperately yearned to be in the newspaper for reasons other than perpetual losing and inability to secure a new arena deal.
There will be pressures placed on Jimmer from a variety of directions, some having to do with his on the court production, some from the business side of basketball. Fredette will be expected to deliver from day one.
And deliver he will. Sacramento wasn't a perfect fit from a personnel standpoint by any means, but his brilliant offensive gifts can't be restrained by a stubborn coach who won't play rookies, or his lack of a definite position or even the number of ball hogs that comprise the Kings' present roster.
Another constant knock on Fredette is the competition he played against. Playing in the Mountain West Conference, Fredette was able to feast on non competitive programs like TCU, Wyoming, Utah and Air Force.
His critics are quick to point that out, but they never mention the fact that he also played against fellow NCAA tournament participants like UNLV and San Diego State. They also never mention how he played alongside four nobodies at BYU and every opposing defense was geared to stop him and him alone. It won't be like that at the NBA level, where he'll play alongside equally talented players and he'll basically be an afterthought in opposing defensive game plans.
Fredette will effortlessly slide between the point guard and shooting guard positions, like Stephen Curry did in Golden State two years ago, as an undersized combo guard who could shoot the lights out and had good enough handle and court vision to run the team. He will instantly be the best shooter on the roster. Hell, he's already one of the best shooters in the world at only 22 years of age.
He will step in from day one and be hands down the best playmaker on the Kings' roster. When this ugly work stoppage does finally conclude, and it will at some point, Jimmer will be granted entry to the practice facility and will get the chance to unveil his multifaceted game to his NBA brethren. After a few weeks of busting jumpers on his teammates in practice, he is going to embarrass established NBA veterans who figure they'll eat the scrawny kid for breakfast.
Make no mistake, Jimmer Fredette is going to be a handful for would be defenders early and often in his NBA career. But on the flip side of the coin, Jimmer's defensive intensity and lateral quickness will be put to the test early and often as well.
A Lilliputian by NBA standards, opposing guards will take one look at Fredette and demand teammates to clear out so they can isolate on Jimmer. There is no defending (no pun intended) Jimmer's defense while at BYU. He lost track of his defensive assignments and allowed his man to get to the cup far too easily, far too frequently.
Jimmer's offense is so good, it's going to be very hard to keep him off the court. But Jimmer's defense is so putrid, it's going to be very hard to keep him on the court.
He doesn't have to become Rajon Rondo or Tony Allen, but he does have to become a guy the opposition can't pick on. J.J. Redick was once looked at as a situational player who could hardly scratch out any minutes in Stan Van Gundy's rotation; but now, thanks in large part to his defensive evolution into someone who can be trusted instead of a defensive weak link, Redick has played consistent minutes for a championship-contending franchise.
In Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and the additions of a number of contributing veterans like Marcus Thornton, John Salmons, Jason Thompson and J.J. Hickson, the Kings' talent level has improved tenfold from just three years ago when they were owners of the league's worst record.
With Jimmer Fredette in the fold in the backcourt, we will see if this youth movement will continue to ascend up the standings and threaten for a playoff spot.
Now we just need a season.
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