Success or failure, call Jimmer Fredette‘s future what you will. The Sacramento Kings’ acquisition of the BYU guard with infinite shooting range has its number of haters, namely, those who think Fredette’s celebrity status (cult following) made him jump up the draft boards despite his ineptitude on defense (over-analyzed) and lack of pure point-guard skills (also over-analyzed).
At this point in the Kings’ limbo – should they stay or should they go – Jimmermania is exactly what the Maloofs need to keep their team relevant and in Sacramento. The risk was well worth the reward in this case, mostly because their choice in Fredette was the best for the business.
“I’ve been in some situations where some of my players have had cult followings before,” Kings head coach Paul Westphal told the media at Fredette’s introductory press conference. “If it continues, it means you’re really good. The main thing is, I know Jimmer has not been caught up in over-valuing that – you appreciate the fans and the adulation, and it’s something special.
“We want him to embrace that. We want the team to embrace that, but at the same time, it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t back it up. You’re focus is the job, and the circus is the circus. I know Jimmer is very good at separating that.”
Call it the Steve Nash effect. Sean Sweeney wrote the other day that Nash is the player that many people think should be traded from their respective team. But he isn’t on the block, apparently, and there’s a reason for that – money. Even though they won’t challenge in the Western Conference, the Suns can’t unload him and rebuild because they’re afraid of losing ticket sales.
Mediocre as they might be with a really weird backcourt of Fredette and Tyreke Evans, that’s exactly why the Kings picked The Jimmer. Sacramento knows this: Fredette will work hard, he’ll compete and he’ll be a good guy off the court. Oh, and he’ll sell tickets. For those reasons alone, he’s not risky per say.
“Hopefully people see me as a good person first of all,” Fredette told the media. “That’s what it’s all about. Going out and being able to help the community, help the people around you – that’s going to carry far longer than basketball ever will. But then, hopefully they see me as a good basketball player as well.”
The only sense of risk that Fredette exudes comes in how his game meshes with his teammates, and whether he can play the role of a floor general rather than a trigger-happy shooter. By the way, Fredette averaged 4.3 assists in his games scoring 30 points or more during his senior season. That came in 16 games out of his total of 37 outings, showing that the guy still looks for his teammates when he is taking a lot of shots and hitting them. And of course, the defensive questions became an issue at BYU, but the guy isn’t necessarily on the small side, nor is he weak or unathletic. How else do you think he drills 25-foot jumpers with defenders in his face?
On the reward side of The Jimmer, you get a guy who can go all Jimmer on opponents – I know, sixth grade English taught me not to use the word in its own definition. He gets buckets, and if anything, Fredette will bring the fans into Sactown.
Like Christopher Walken, Jimmer wants more cowbell. He’ll probably get it, and that might be just enough to keep the Kings in California’s capitol.
What do you think?
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