Jimmer Fredette is doing everything right this year. When his number has been called, the second-year guard has stepped onto the floor ready and prepared to contribute for the Sacramento Kings.
However, there’s still something missing from Fredette’s game that’s kept Keith Smart from handing over the reins to the 24-year-old guard. It’s something practically every great point guard that’s stepped foot in the NBA has either been blessed with or developed.
What Fredette currently lacks is a vocal command of the floor.
“Never have been a huge vocal guy,” Fredette said of himself. ”I’ve always kind of led by example, but sometimes it needs to be done.”
Becoming more vocal has been a process for the sophomore guard. On a team full of larger-than-life personalities, Fredette is modest and unassuming. He’s fits in rather than stands out.
The BYU alum doesn’t hesitate to admit that speaking up is an area he needs to improve. However, he’s not totally sold that becoming more vocal is the next logical step to unlocking his NBA potential.
“There’s point guards in this league that aren’t real vocal that are very good point guards in this league,” Fredette said. ”So you know, it just depends on how you are as a person.
“I think if you get an opportunity to get a lot of time and you’re out there, the trust of your teammates is more important,” he added. “Knowing that you’re going to give them the ball when they need it and different aspects like that if you’re not a vocal guy.”
His head coach would argue the contrary. Smart believes that speaking up is an intangible asset Fredette needs to add to his game.
“I’m encouraging him to do that,” said the Kings coach. “Because I think as a guard in this league, when you’ve gone to when you’ve been the guy that’s had the ball and handled the ball a lot in your career, you have to do a lot of talking. Everything starts and finishes with you.”
Smart has walked in Fredette’s shoes before. Though he’s one of the most gregarious head coaches in the league, Smart wasn’t always as outgoing and extroverted as he is today.
When he arrived as a junior college transfer at Indiana University, Smart claims he was a quiet player. It wasn’t in his nature to be a commanding and vocal presence in the Hoosiers lineup. But under the guidance of legendary coach Bob Knight, Smart learned quickly how to speak up.
“I wasn’t a vocal kid,” said Smart as he recalled his college days in Bloomington. ”I was a quiet guy. But I had a very demanding coach that demanded me to start communicating and start talking. Talking out loud and even if I (said) something wrong and (he had) to correct me.”
“And as the year moved on, I became that vocal guy for our team,” Smart added.
Fredette is learning. He’s taking cues not only from Smart, but from teammate Isaiah Thomas as well. The Kings starting point guard has been blessed with an innate ability to lead and command a room and Fredette is trying to follow suit.
“They’re always communicating with guys and talking with guys,” said Fredette of Thomas and Smart. “Telling them where they need to go. And sometimes, I need to do a little better job in that and just be a little bit more vocal.”
The 24-year-old guard has made strides with confidence as well as leadership ability this year. He still has work to do, but he’s come a long way from being the stumbling rookie who many scouts thought was unsalvageable last season.
“He’s much more vocal now than he was last year,” said Smart. “So you can see steps that he’s moving in that direction.”