Jimmer Fredette at No. 10 was received with exceptional fanfare around Sacramento. John Salmons and his three-year $25 million contract were not greeted with such ferver, but Salmons was quickly forgotten in the midst of Jimmermania.
What can we expect out of Sacramento with these two additions?
First off, Salmons: He’ll start at small forward, but his addition was a very weak decision by the Kings front office. He was sent along with Brad Miller to Chicago two years ago for Andres Nocioni and an $8 million expiring contract known as Drew Gooden. Salmons' departure then was totally a business decision; now Kings fans are supposed to believe his return is a smart basketball move?
He’s never been an efficient scoring option (his total career shooting percent is .442 and his true shooting percentage (TSP) is a mediocre .540), and he’s gained a reputation as a ballhog and a locker-room headcase (and deservedly so, if you ask any Sacramento/Chicago/Milwaukee fans). You have to question putting in another black-hole offensive player on a team already struggling to fit an offense around Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Thronton and now, Jimmer.
The Kings needed a small forward, true—but the addition of Salmons seems a very weak band-aid over a fairly deep wound. Kings fans have high hopes for second-round selection Tyler Honeycutt, but he’s years off from actually competing for a starting job.
Second off, Jimmer: The greatest thing Jimmer did and can continue to do is to bring in fans and media attention. He also brings a good jump shot to team that had only one shooter (Marcus Thornton) and a hard-working ethic that will hopefully transition over to his teammates.
But with his defense and ball-handling in serious question, I doubt that Jimmer will become the star many expect him too. His defense was terribly weak in the NCAA, so bad that his own teammate, Nick Martineau, was quoted by ESPN’s Rick Reilly as saying "The weird thing is, [his defense] has gotten progressively worse over the year.”
Even if he can focus more on his defense now, the fact that he was "too busy playing offense to play defense" in college is as big a red flag as there can be.
My expectation is that Jimmer becomes a fine NBA player, propelled by his shooting ability. But on the Kings roster, he’s the third-most talented guard behind Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton. I truly doubt he ever becomes a consistent starter unless Thornton leaves or is traded.
Remembering that hindsight is 20/20, I wish the Kings had stayed pat. Even if they didn’t know that Knight would have been there at No. 7, I truly believe Kemba Walker will be a better NBA player than Jimmer Fredette. The fact that Jimmer came attached with John Salmons made it all worse, even if that's not a problem with Jimmer.
If that Tony Parker deal had a serious chance, it would have been the smartest decision of all.
Of course, the NBA may look back in 10 years and think “What if Jimmer Fredette had gone higher in the draft?” You never know.