There are several prominent rookies this season, but Jimmer Fredette might be the cream of the crop.
The Sacramento Kings' guard has several things going for him heading into the 2011-2012 season, and should be one of the favorites to win the Rookie of the Year award.
In an 82-game schedule, rookies tend to show fatigue in the final months of a season, and with the condensed schedule, where teams will be playing on back-to-back nights more frequently, the fitness of basketball players will be even more of a concern.
That helps the Kings, who have a rookie guard that has spent the past three college seasons playing nearly every game and for over 30 minutes a night. Fredette may have been over-worked at BYU, and that work ethic will likely translate well in the NBA.
On defense, Fredette might be a perfect compliment to point guard Tyreke Evans. At 6'6, Evans has the ability to defend opposing shooting guards, while Fredette guards under-sized players. Critics may have exaggerated Fredette's limitations on defense, as he has been serviceable in the preseason, and doesn't appear to be much of a liability.
On offense, Fredette has the talent around him that he needed in Provo to avoid double-teams, which is vital for shooters. With Evans's ability to penetrate, Fredette should have the opportunity to await passes on the peremiter and not be forced to rush shots.
While Marcus Thornton is expected to receive a bulk of the duties at shooting guard, Fredette may receive some point guard play throughout the season, as the Kings are rather thin at the position. Fredette's combo guard skills should help him receive more playing time, and showcase his versatility.
In his first preseason game, Fredette was on fire. He scored 21 points on seven-of-11 shooting in 35 minutes. In his second preseason game, he converted four-of-nine shots, for 12 points, in 32 minutes. He also added four assists in both games.
Fredette likely goes into the 2011-2012 season as the best rookie free-throw shooter in the NBA. With opponents aware of his ability to knock down shots from the line, Fredette may draw weaker defense to get off his outside shot.
There are several other candidates who should challenge Fredette for the Rookie of the Year award. The Minnesota Timberwolves have a pair of young players in Derrick Williams and Ricky Rubio, who should be solid contributors this season. The same goes for the Cleveland Cavaliers with Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson.
Like nearly every season, fans can expect a rookie to emerge out of nowhere and play above many experts' expectations. It's certainly possible that Fredette will be challenged by an obscure candidate.
For now, Fredette can feel confident that he should be in the mix as the best rookie in the NBA by season's end.