Much was made of Jimmer Fredette's jump from BYU to the NBA.
In his rookie season, Fredette has struggled to get playing time in a talented and over-crowded Sacramento Kings backcourt. While Fredette has had some solid performances this season, the rookie guard has not had the major impact that many expected after his prolific college career.
However, Fredette has had some breakout scoring performances this season. The 23-year-old has scored 17 points or more in five games this season, and is currently in a streak of 10-straight games where he has hit a three-point shot.
Fredette has also compared well to other rookies, as he is 14th in scoring average (7.7 ppg) and sixth in three-point shooting (35.8 percent) among first-year players. Fredette is also fourth among rookies in free-throw percentage (83.3 percent).
Fredette, who has averaged just 18.7 minutes per game, has perhaps been overshadowed by one of his teammates. Fellow rookie Isaiah Thomas has been a welcomed surprise for the Kings, as the 5'9 guard has averaged 11.5 points per game, on 44.7 percent shooting from the field despite being the last selection of the 2012 NBA Draft.
The Kings are loaded in the backcourt aside from Thomas and Fredette. Former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans remains the face of the franchise, and Marcus Thornton is among the most under-rated shooting guards in the league, with an 18.7 points-per-game average, on 43.8 percent shooting. Add veteran John Salmons into the mix, and it's easy to see how Fredette would get lost in the rotation.
If the Kings had more than just DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson in the interior, head coach Keith Smart would likely rely more on Fredette's scoring threat from the perimeter. SInce that's not the case, Smart has had to rely on slashers to make up for scoring in the post.
Basically, the Kings seem to be a collection of guards fighting over playing time, and the team is losing in the process.
Expect Sacramento to make changes in the off-season, and draft a big man, such as Anthony Davis of Kentucky, Andre Drummond of UConn, or Thomas Robinson of Kansas. A trade or two also seems to be inevitable, though all of the Kings' guards are locked into contracts beyond next season.
Perhaps the Kings deal Fredette to a Western Conference team that could better utilize his skill set such as the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles, Lakers, Denver Nuggets, or the Phoenix Suns.
With two games remaining on the season against excellent competition (the Kings face Oklahoma City and the Lakers), it will be interesting to see how much time rookies Thomas and Fredette play. Smart really has nothing to lose since Sacramento were eliminated from playoff contention weeks ago.
For Fredette, it's been a season for him to build off of. He shed the perception that he doesn't have the athleticism to play in the pros, and has proven to be a quality scorer when given opportunities to shoot. More than likely, he will spend the offseason working on his penetration skills, and his ability to get his shot off quicker.
But how Fredette progresses next season may come down to what players he's surrounded by.
2011-2012 NBA GRADE: B