It’s taken two and half seasons to achieve, but Jimmer Fredette has finally found a role with the Sacramento Kings. It isn’t as the team’s starting point guard or shooting guard, like many of his fans would prefer, but he is getting consistent minutes off the bench for coach Michael Malone and you can see his confidence growing.
After a poor showing against the Miami Heat on Dec. 27, Jimmer has turned the corner, albeit in a modest way. Over the last six games, he’s scoring 7.8 points per game on 47.4 percent shooting from the field and 46.2 percent from long range in 13 minutes per game.
Jimmer would love to play more. But for now, he knows that coach Malone will turn to him to start the second quarter and again in the fourth. For a player who has been dying for some sort of opportunity, it’s a start.
“I’ve been able to play in every game and be consistent,” Jimmer told reporters following the Kings’ 103-83 victory over the Orlando Magic. . “When you get in those games and you’re able to play every single game, you feel a flow and you feel consistency.”
The real change for Jimmer came 14 games ago when general manager Pete D’Alessandro traded starting point guard Greivis Vasquez as part of the seven-player trade that brought Rudy Gay to Sacramento. With Vasquez gone, Isaiah Thomas became the starter and Jimmer moved back to the point guard position.
The transition to the point hasn’t been an easy one for Jimmer, but it is the position he prefers to play. It’s a work in progress. That said, over the last few games, he has looked more comfortable, and the second unit is beginning to gel.
“Our bench has been giving us very, very productive minutes,” coach Malone said following Friday’s win. “Not just scoring, but defending and energy-wise, as well.”
It doesn’t always look pretty, but Jimmer has done a solid job of getting his teammates involved. Once the ball is moving, it opens up the floor for the former College Player of the Year to do what he does best – let it fly.
Jimmer is shooting 48.4 percent from behind the arc on the season, but he has only shot 31 total long balls all season. For a team that ranks 25th in the league in 3-point shooting percentage, Jimmer has been one of the few bright spots from the perimeter. The Kings need to find a way to get him more open looks.
“I’ve just been going out, being aggressive and doing what I do on the floor and trying to provide a spark,” Jimmer said.
The rumor mill heated up again earlier this week. According to multiple reports, the Kings have offered both Marcus Thornton and Jimmer to the Denver Nuggets in separate deals for veteran point guard Andre Miller.
Nothing is imminent, but Sacramento has been the most active team on the market, and most experts agree that it isn’t done reshaping its roster. Both Fredette and Gay share the same agent, Octagon’s Jeff Austin. With Gay’s pending decision on whether or not to opt out of his deal for next season, it might behoove the Kings to find a soft landing spot for the former BYU star, who makes his offseason home in Denver.
Rumors are part of the NBA game. Jimmer understands that he is not under contract for next season with the Kings and that there is a very good chance that he’ll either get traded at the deadline or sign somewhere else in the offseason.
“I do fine with it. It doesn’t really matter to me,” Jimmer told Cowbell Kingdom about the latest trade rumors. “You just play hard and control what you can control. You’ve just got to not worry about (it) and think, ‘You’re here right now until they say something.’ There’s been rumors all year long and nothing’s happened.”
It’s been a rocky road for Jimmer in Sacramento, but the 24-year-old guard is well grounded. He knows that there is life after basketball and in many ways he has already begun living it.
In the summer of 2012, Jimmer married his college sweetheart Whitney Wonnacott. With the constant instability surrounding his career, he has a support system in place that helps keep him focused and centered.
“She’s my rock,” Jimmer said of Whitney. “I am able to go home to her tonight and just be able to relax and not worry about basketball, not worry about anything, just be a family man.
“The most important thing in my life by far is my family and this is secondary. You have to put things in perspective, and she’s able to do that for me.”
Jimmer is currently auditioning for all 30 NBA teams. He has a few months before he becomes a free agent, and every game counts in his quest to remain an NBA player. But that isn’t the way that he views his situation.
“It’s not necessarily about building value; it’s about trying to help us get wins,” Fredette said.
For now, Jimmer finally has a role. He knows that he will play each and every night, and he also knows that as he performs and gets more comfortable in his role, he can earn more minutes on the floor. If he’s moved to a new location, that may change.
It may not be the perfect situation for Jimmer, but he is quietly building momentum and so are the Sacramento Kings.