Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette posted the best night of his NBA career, and it could make the struggling franchise re-consider his status with the team going forward.
Fredette scored a career and team-high 24 points helping the Kings erase an early 13-point deficit en route to a 106-101 overtime, road victory over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
Marking Sacramento’s seventh road win all season, Fredette also set new career-highs with nine total baskets made and six three-pointers knocked down.
The Kings battled the Knicks throughout the back-and-forth game, and Fredette provided a huge boost after center DeMarcus Cousins left the game with a hip flexor strain. Fredette nailed a three-pointer with less than a minute and half to play in regulation for a 93-91 lead, allowing swingman Rudy Gay to take over down the stretch.
Fredette has struggled to get playing time all year, and didn’t really earn the back-up point guard slot until Sacramento traded Greivis Vasquez back in December for Gay, the Sacramento Bee reported.
The Bee’s report also showed how Kings head coach Mike Malone has provided some recent encouragement to Fredette, a former lottery pick who has struggled to find minutes in Sacramento despite his exceptional shooting ability.
“I give (Fredette) credit,” Malone said. “This hasn’t been an easy season for Jimmer, and I realize that. ... He changed the game. It was about to be a 25-point game, and his ability to come in that first half and get us back into it was huge.”
Fredette’s been named in rumored trade packages this season, as the Kings were desperate to land more veterans to get out of the bottom of the West.
However the trade-aggressive Kings inability to package Fredette or guard Marcus Thornton in deals with such teams as Denver, Charlotte, or Chicago, may have been a blessing in disguise.
Fredette will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the Kings have dangled his expiring $2.5 million contract for quite some time, but his most recent outburst fully displayed what the 25-year-old is capable of doing with more minutes.
Fredette’s performance upped his overall player efficiency rating to a solid 16.91 this season, and he's converted an astounding 49 percent of his three-point shots in 11.5 minutes per game. Fredette has also missed just one free throw on 17 attempts.
While the Knicks have had their share of struggles this season, they have been one of the better defensive squads in the league, ranking in the top 10 for most of this year in points allowed. New York also has top flight perimeter defenders in Iman Shumpert and rookie Tim Hardaway Jr., a duo that couldn’t shutdown Fredette, Gay, or point guard Isaiah Thomas.
The trade deadline is exactly a week away, and this time next week Fredette could still very well be wearing a Kings uniform. Otherwise, he showed plenty of teams around the league that he’d be a valued addition to their second units.