Jimmer Fredette became a national icon during his senior season at BYU with several huge scoring nights.
However, despite leading the country in scoring average (28.9), scouts and executives debated how Fredette's game would translate to the NBA level.
After being selected by the Milwaukee Bucks 10th overall, Fredette was dealt as part of a three-team trade with the Charlotte Bobcats that ultimately landed him with the Sacramento Kings.
As a rookie, Fredette struggled to find his niche as a combo guard.
DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans were entrenched as the core building blocks for Sacramento while Marcus Thornton and Isaiah Thomas took minutes away from Fredette. Thornton led the Kings in minutes per game (34.9) and points per game (18.7). Thomas won Rookie of the Month Awards in both February and March while being selected to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
Fredette struggled shooting the ball at an uncharacteristically low field goal percentage (.386), three-point percentage (.361), true shooting percentage (.495), and effective field goal percentage (.473). Fredette finished ninth on the Kings in average minutes played (18.6) and seventh in points (7.6).
Fredette’s low shooting totals were a critical part of his disappointing rookie PER of 10.92.
Despite the rough NBA introduction, Fredette has found his niche with Sacramento in his second season.
I sat down with Fredette to discuss what has changed this season.
“I think my mindset is different coming in and being more confident on the floor and knowing my role more, knowing that I need to come in off the bench and be a scorer for this team and try to provide a spark,” Fredette told RealGM.
Through the first 31 games of this season, Fredette has shot the ball more efficiently from the field (.434), from beyond the arc (.411), and at the free throw line (.908). Fredette has also seen a sizable increase in his true shooting percentage (.581).
The most telling sign of Fredette’s growth has been his PER, which has increased to 18.9.
Coincidentally, the biggest reason for Fredette’s improvement has been thanks to Evans and Thornton.
While Evans and Thornton’s play limited Fredette’s minutes during his rookie season, both players have sustained injuries that opened the door for Fredette to earn consistent minutes.
“It definitely helps you as a player to get out there and get more minutes and when you do you’re able to produce and then you get confidence and it helps you with your game for sure,” said Fredette. “You get into a rhythm and know that when you get out there you can play and you can score and be an asset to this team so it’s definitely helped me out.”
Fredette has also received support and encouragement from Keith Smart to be more similar to the player he was at BYU.
“(Smart) gives me confidence when I get out there to be a scorer and telling me that he wants me to shoot the ball and make sure that when you have an opportunity to score he wants you to take it,” said Fredette. “Having that confidence from the coach is something that makes you succeed.”
Teammates have also rallied on the bench when Fredette gets a hot hand from beyond the arc, encouraging him to let it fly from beyond the arc.
“They know that I can score and that’s why I’m here,” said Fredette. “So they give me confidence to give me the ball and shoot the ball and hopefully it’ll go in, but they always have confidence in me that it will.”
With 2013 upon us, Fredette hopes to continue improving and earning more minutes in the rotation.
Fredette’s New Years resolution is to become more of a floor general.
“I’ve always played point guard so that’s probably something that I would like to do, you know I always have, but whatever gets me on the floor, that’s what I’ll do,” said Fredette. “I just want to be out there playing and give us kind of a duel threat with two point guards on the floor being able to handle the ball and pass it and shoot it. That’s something that has worked well for us this year so we’ll continue to work with that and we’ll see what happens.”