There were lofty expectations for Jimmer Fredette when he entered the NBA.
Unfortunately for Fredette and the majority of rookies, the 2011-2012 season has been a turbulent one, as the schedule has been condensed due to a labor dispute, and the lack of a proper preseason has taken its toll.
With the exception of Rookie of the Year favorite Kyrie Irving, this has been a forgettable season for first-year players.
Fredette is among the rookies who have struggled to make a strong impact. The Sacramento Kings guard is averaging just 7.4 points and playing just 18.5 minutes per game.
The Kings are overloaded with guards, and one reason head coach Keith Smart might be reluctant to give Fredette more minutes is the stellar play of his starting backcourt.
Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton have a combined scoring average over 35 points, and Smart has a quality veteran off the bench in John Salmons.
Meanwhile, the Kings also have been surprised by the play of rookie Isaiah Thomas. The last overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, Thomas has been a revelation. The 5'9 point guard is averaging 11.2 points per game, and shooting 44.5 percent from the field, and 82 percent from the free-throw line.
So where does this leave Fredette?
Apparently, the BYU star is the odd man out. A pure shooter who needs more than just a few shots to be effective, Fredette has thrived when taking 12 or more shots in a game, which he has only done in seven games.
During that span, Fredette has shot 41.4 percent, which is solid for a perimeter player, and represents a sharp uptick from when he shoots less than 12 shots a game (37.4 percent).
Unfortunately for Fredette, when he does shoot, Sacramento loses, as the Kings have only won one game out of the seven when he takes a dozen or more shots.
However, the Kings are losing with or without Fredette shooting at a high clip. Sacramento's miserable 19-38 record is not too surprising. The team's lack of an interior presence has been a major contributing factor in a difficult season that saw the dismissal of Paul Westphal in early January.
The Kings have only nine games remaining on the schedule. If there is ever a time for Smart to play the young guys, it is now.
Smart, apparently, knows this. In Sunday's home game against the Rockets, Fredette received 37 minutes and converted seven-of-15 shots from the field. Fredette was joined in the starting line-up with Thomas, who played 45 minutes.
As the season winds down, Fredette might have the opportunity to make a case for being a regular starter, either on the Kings or another club. Despite some inconsistent efforts this season, he has proven to be a hard worker and a legitimate sharpshooter.
Fredette is nowhere near the bust label some blogs have labeled him. It certainly seems misguided to overlook some of his big games this season, and how valuable a catch-and-shoot threat is to a club.
With a stronger inside threat, Fredette's perimeter play might be an enormous asset to a club.
While much was made of Fredette's arrival into the NBA, his second professional season could be far more encouraging.
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