Jimmer Fredette, Isaiah Thomas, Aaron Brooks and the Sacramento Kings’ hydra at point
Tyreke Evans is no longer the starting point guard of the Sacramento Kings.
I’m not sure that he ever was. Both Paul Westphal and Keith Smart have gone on record saying that Evans “is just a basketball player” or “he is a guard, not a point guard.” Well the dilemma is solved…sort of.
We know who isn’t the starting point guard for the 2012-13 Kings, but I’m not sure that we know who is.
Isaiah Thomas is the incumbent. His leadership, fire and competitive nature have made him a favorite with coaches and fans alike. But at five-foot-nothing, he is going to have a difficult time convincing the masses that he is a legitimate, starting point guard.
The final pick in the 2011 NBA Draft is primed for a breakout sophomore season. During the summer, Thomas organized a players-only camp, in which 10 of his 14 teammates returned to Sacramento for some big-time bonding. He is ready to lead both on and off the court.
“I’m ready for everything,” Thomas told us this offseason on the Cowbell Kingdom Podcast. “I’m going in, telling myself (that) I’m going to be the starting point guard. Telling everybody else – that’s my job. That’s how I’m going in and I feel like I’ve earned the starting point guard position and it’s going to be battles in the practice facility, but that’s what you live for.”
While Thomas is ready, Brooks is a player with some serious NBA chops. The 2009-10 Most Improved Player of the Year is coming off an All-Star season in China, but an injury-riddled 2010-11 NBA campaign.
Brooks is looking to get back to his M.I.P. form and at 27-years-old, he still has plenty of time. The form we speak of saw Brooks become one of the NBA’s premiere 3-point specialists, leading the league in both attempts (525) and makes (209) during the 2009-10 season. The Oregon grad averaged 19.6 points and 5.3 assists a game for the Houston Rockets, pairing with Kevin Martin to create one of the NBA’s highest-scoring backcourts.
However, that was two years ago. There are certainly question-marks regarding how Brooks will fair after time away from the league, but he appears anxious to dispel any doubt.
“You’re going to get in practice and you’re going to work,” Brooks said during his introductory press conference this summer. “And (when) you get out to the games, and you do what you’re supposed to do, you’re going to play.”
While many question his NBA readiness, Brooks thinks the season in China actually helped him become a more complete teammate.
“We had five (Chinese) national team players,” Brooks said. “You had to cater to their egos a bit and make sure they got the ball in the right places. It made me a better all-around player.”
Thomas and Brooks will battle for starter minutes, while Jimmer, the 2011 NBA Draft’s 10th overall selection, has a mighty task in front of him. How does he break into a rotation featuring Thomas, Brooks, Evans and Marcus Thornton, when coach Smart has only 96 minutes of game action to distribute?
Las Vegas Summer League was a disaster for Jimmer, but that shouldn’t cause panic. When have five games ever been a proper sample size? Can you tell anything from playing with a rookie power forward and 10 other NBA hopefuls?
The answer is no. After a lockout-shortened season and a lackluster summer league, Jimmer Fredette should have an idea of what he needs to improve, but passing any judgment would be a mistake.
“It is what it is,” Fredette said when he heard about the Brooks signing during summer league. “You just go out there and play. Aaron is a really explosive scorer. A guy who can really put the ball in the basket as well. He’s going to help the team out and that’s what it’s all about.”
What should be a tale-tell-sign is that Brooks, a long-time Geoff Petrie favorite, was signed to a partially guaranteed, two-year deal. The Kings still have hope that Jimmer is the right fit; they just bought themselves another season to see if they can cultivate his talent.
While we know that Evans is no longer the Kings point guard of the future, we still have no idea of who is. Thomas has the position for now, Brooks has the experience to take over at any time and Jimmer has a pretty impressive pedigree.
Someone is going to draw a short straw here, at least for now. After almost three seasons with Evans being the man at point for the Sacramento Kings, the starter that emerges will be the player that fits best next to him.
My guess is that Thomas wins the job out of camp, but Brooks nips at his heels. While the two battle it out, Jimmer continues to improve and we will start this whole dance again next season.