No one wants to forget the 2011-12 NBA season more than second-year guard Jimmer Fredette. To say he was behind the eight ball from day one would be an understatement.
After being drafted with the 10th overall selection in the 2011 draft, Jimmer had to wait…and wait…and wait for his first chance to dawn an NBA jersey and I’m not sure his patience was worth it.
Last season, there was no summer league to prepare young players for the transition to the next level. Instead, Jimmer received an abbreviated training camp, followed by team turmoil and the eventual firing of head coach Paul Westphal just seven contests into a condensed 66-game schedule. This is not the way you want your rookie season to begin.
Fellow first-year guard Isaiah Thomas didn’t help matters for Jimmer either. Thomas, a natural leader, went from Mr. Irrelevant to starting point guard before the All-Star Break. While Thomas flourished, Jimmer went through what many, if not most rookies go through – an up and down season marred by inconsistent playing time.
It’s hard to get comfortable when you don’t know when or even if you will take the floor.
Season No. 2 should be slightly more stable for Jimmer, but stability isn’t always a good thing.
The Kings added veteran Aaron Brooks to the fray and it appears Tyreke Evans will be moving back to the back-court, at least part time. Stability for Jimmer this year may mean a warm seat on the Kings’ bench.
We talked extensively about Jimmer’s approach last season. He chose the path of least resistance and in doing so, he found himself the odd man out. For the new season, there is a mandate from above.
“I think the biggest thing is mentally be more aggressive,” Jimmer told a scrum of reporters on media day of head coach Keith Smart‘s message to him this offseason. “Be more assertive on the floor and take the shots and opportunities when I have them. I think that’s what coach wants me to do and I think that’s what my teammates expect me to do, so I need to do a better job of doing that this year. I’m looking forward to being more aggressive and playing my game.”
The Kings unleashed Jimmer during summer league in Las Vegas. The order was clear – be aggressive and get your shots up. The results weren’t pretty as Jimmer and a team of misfit toys looked out of sorts. Against the Charlotte Bobcats, they looked down-right unprepared.
Now Jimmer enters the preseason needing to make a big impression. Basically, he needs to earn his minutes against three proven NBA scorers in Evans, Brooks and Marcus Thornton or figure out a way to leap frog Thomas who has proven to be both a player and a leader in his short time in the league.
It’s a tall order, but so is averaging more than 27 points a game at the college level. Jimmer has the ability to be an NBA scorer, but he needs to bring it every time he steps on the court. If he doesn’t, it’s going to be a long season for both Jimmer and the legion of fans pulling for him.