So what is the deal with Jimmer Fredette?
With the exception of yesterday’s loss to Oklahoma City, the Kings second-year guard out of BYU has seemingly fallen out of Keith Smart‘s rotation yet again.
In his previous four games before last night’s defeat to the Thunder, Fredette played a total of 16 minutes and received the dreaded DNP – Coach’s Decision twice. It is a mystery of sorts. A conundrum and honestly, Smart doesn’t want to hear about it.
“Every night somebody’s going to be out,” Smart said after a long sigh before Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns. “It’s unfortunate, but those two games he was out. Let’s restart, reload and we move tonight.”
Smart doesn’t like the question. I can’t imagine that any coach enjoys having his coaching decisions nitpicked by the media, but we have to ask. He knows we have a job to do, but he doesn’t want to hear it. The question is tired and old. He is the coach and he will be the one who makes the decisions he feels best suit his team.
Smart has a default answer for this question. He points to Isaiah Thomas, Aaron Brooks, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton and even veteran Francisco Garcia as the reason for Fredette’s lack of playing time.
“They’re two different players right now,” said Smart yesterday when asked what Brooks gives the Kings that his second-year counterpart doesn’t. “Aaron Brooks has played point guard his whole career. So Jimmer is still in transition trying to adjust to that. If you look at it from that standpoint, one is a point guard and one is still adjusting.”
The Kings have a glut of guards. Jimmer plays the guard position. There will be nights when he can capture lightning in a bottle and force Smart’s hand. But there will also be nights when he doesn’t make a quick impression on the game and he sits for long stretches.
Is Smart right to sit Jimmer? That’s not really for me to say. The kid has proven he’s an NBA player. He is a scoring machine and he provides spacing and perimeter shooting. Unfortunately, he’s lost in a numbers game.
It’s not what Jimmer fans want to hear. They point to the stats and say look, he is statistically better than almost every guard Smart plays in front of him.
And they are right. Statistically speaking, Fredette should be playing. Of the six guards on the Kings’ roster, only Tyreke Evans boasts a higher player efficiency rating than Jimmer Fredette (18.32 to 16.41). True shooting? Only Brooks has Jimmer beat at 57 percent to 56.4 percent. And on a team that struggles with spacing from the perimeter, not only does Jimmer lead the Kings in 3-point shooting at 43.8 percent, he is among the top 10 best long-range marksmen in the entire league.
I could keep going, but I’m not sure that we have to. Jimmer is an offensive weapon at the NBA level, no questions asked.
So what is the issue? The Kings have veteran players with proven track records that are standing in his way. An argument could be made that Jimmer is better than those playing in front of him, but it seems to fall on deaf ears.
The decision lies with Smart. It is his team and he doesn’t want to address the issue.
So what does Jimmer do?
First and foremost, he needs to fight. On a team filled with selfish players, the strong-willed voices are being heard and he is not. The last thing Jimmer will ever be is the squeaky wheel, but his unselfish approach has once again led to him to become forgotten.
Jimmer is a scorer. He needs minutes and he needs shots to be effective. He has always had the ability to quiet the naysayers with his play, but he needs to use his words this time. He has to demand playing time and when he gets his shot, he has to demand the ball.
If his teammates don’t like it, he needs to tell them to look at the stats. He needs to tell them that he is one of the best shooters in the NBA and he can help them win.
While Jimmer continues to improve and continues to perform in limited minutes, he needs to understand that it’s up to him to stand up and make himself heard.
This may not be a popular idea. There will be people who say we’re blaming Jimmer for his inconsistent playing time, but that’s not the case. This is the reality. It can’t be the fans or members of the media who force change in this situation. This is about Smart and Jimmer and nothing else.
Jonathan Santiago also contributed to this story.