Jimmer Fredette fights his way into Keith Smart’s rotation

Jimmer Fredette jacks up a shot against the Phoenix Suns (Photo: Steven Chea)

The Sacramento Kings have taken a wait-and-see approach with Jimmer Fredette. Instead of trusting that last year’s first-round pick would be ready to contribute major minutes off the bench, the Kings chased and landed Aaron Brooks in free agency to back-up second-year starter Isaiah Thomas, sending Jimmer to the end of a very long line.

But a series of strong games by Jimmer has his coach ready to augment the plan. I hate writing this, but it appears that Keith Smart just “Got Jimmered!”

“I have to make minutes for him on the floor right now,” the Kings head coach said during Sunday’s postgame telecast from Los Angeles. “He’s just too positive right now in what he’s doing. He’s kept a perfect attitude the whole time and I have to find ways to make sure he’s on the floor.”

That’s right Jimmer fans, it looks like your guy is breaking through and rightly so. After dropping 18 points in 11 minutes Sunday in Los Angeles, Jimmer is now averaging seven points a game in just eight minutes of action. He is also shooting a whopping 64-percent (16-for-25) from the field, 50 percent (5-for-10) from 3-point land and he has hit all six of his free throw attempts. His PER (Player Efficiency Rating) was 25.1 and that was before Sunday’s outburst.

Sure, it’s a small sample and we don’t expect those numbers to hold true in major minutes, but Smart has noticed substantive improvements in his game so far this season.

“He’s not going into tight spots like he did last year,” Smart said before Wednesday’s game against Detroit. “I just think he wasn’t aware of what to do in the NBA last year. Things went so fast last year from (preseason, which was) not even a week for the most part and then right into an NBA season – no training camp, no summer league.”

Besides the abbreviated season, Smart was able to spot some of the issues Jimmer was having, trying to translate his game to the NBA level.

“Everyone understood that he could shoot, so they’re going to play tight on him anyway,” Smart explained. “I think now, his body is better suited for the NBA game. He understands spacing on the floor – where to go and I’m giving him the green light he had last year, but he probably wasn’t ready for that.”

So Jimmer has the green light and if Sunday’s game against the Lakers was any indication, he’s ready to go. Smart is still going to have to manage a fleet of guards, but Jimmer has caught his coach’s attention with his strong offensive play and fought his way into the rotation. Rejoice Jimmer fans.


James Ham

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