There were lofty expectations on the shoulders of former Brigham Young star Jimmer Fredette when he entered the NBA in the 2011-2012 season.
For Fredette and other NBA newcomers, the season was a rather frustrating one based on the condensed schedule and the lack of a significant preseason and training camp.
But the Sacramento Kings guard enters the 2012-2013 season with a new attitude and new expectations. Head coach Keith Smart is trusting Fredette with what appears to be a larger role in the offense, and Fredette appears to be ready for the challenge.
The sharpshooter, who entered the league amid questions about his ability to defend quick guards, has stepped up his skills on defense this offseason, as well. An improvement on defense will probably mean more playing time for Fredette, and he knows it.
"You definitely figure it out as you go along," Fredette said, according to the Sacramento Bee. "I'm definitely getting a lot better playing against some good competition during the summer and making sure to play physical. Playing against bigger guys, smaller guys and I've done a lot of that this summer. Just continue to work on angles, cutting guys off and using your hands when you can make sure you try to play foul-free defense."
On offense, Fredette has been asked to be more aggressive. However, his playing time might be cut short due to a still crowded backcourt. While the Kings lack quality big men, they are deep at guard with Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, John Salmons, Isaiah Thomas, and newcomer Aaron Brooks.
Still, there is a need for a combo guard like Fredette. He is the most pure shooter of the group, and the Kings may need to have a consistent three-point threat if they expect to compete in the Pacific Division. The Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Golden State Warriors have bolstered their roster with fresh talent and should be improved on last season.
The Kings’ fortunes may rest on their ability to throw off their opponents’ strategy by implementing a diverse scoring attack. Fredette could be the key figure off the bench by not just being a perimeter scoring threat, but also a more aggressive penetrator.
Fredette has a reputation for being a hard worker, and he reportedly spent two weeks working with Rob McClanaghan, a respected NBA trainer. Fredette is expected to have a quicker shot release, and show more athleticism.
Fredette has already enjoyed some success in the preseason. Against the Portland Trail Blazers, Fredette knocked down three-of-six shots for 11 points, and had two steals in just 16 minutes. He also scored 14 points against the Lakers on five-of-nine shooting.
But Fredette also has had some poor shooting nights, and had five turnovers in just 11 minutes against the Phoenix Suns on Monday. He will need to show more consistency in the regular season if he hopes to take time away from other backcourt mates.
Should the 6’2 guard show the exciting form from his college days, and make the necessary adjustments in the upcoming season, he can expect to be a major contributor to a young Kings squad. Smart said that three point guards (Fredette, Brooks, and Thomas) had done a good job, but had not separated themselves.
Even with the depth at the position, Sacramento can probably expect a reinvigorated Fredette to be a more valuable player.