Jimmer Fredette Update: Patience Please

I guess we missed the memo.  It should be standardized by now.  Every third week of the month is Jimmer Fredette week.  Everyone who covers the Kings or the NBA for that matter MUST write something on the former BYU star, just to appease the masses.

That’s what it is, just in case you didn’t know – appeasing the masses.  And trust me, there are masses of Jimmer fans and a lot of detractors as well.

I once wrote a post, in which I compared Jimmer Fredette to Fernando Valenzuela.  That post still stands tall as the most viewed post in Cowbell Kingdom history.  Stop laughing, I’m serious.

For reasons we cannot explain, anything Jimmer flies off the shelf.  The theories, the updates, the reasons or excuses – depending on who the reader is.

The fact that Jimmer got another DNP-CD Saturday night against the Golden State Warriors only feeds the storyline.  And there are a plenty of storylines over the last few days.

Our friend Sam Amick from SI.com started the barrage with a must read, comprehensive piece on Friday.  We wake up Sunday morning to the Sacramento Bee’s Ailene Voisin and her rendition of the Jimmer Fredette story.  Tom Ziller over at Sactown Royalty, another friend of Cowbell Kingdom, pulled a comment from the Sac Bee and gave us this little ditty today as well.

Let me give you a little bit of insight on the matter.  The story hasn’t changed.  The quotes haven’t changed.  The situation hasn’t changed.  Jimmer Fredette is a work in progress.  There will be nights where he plays a lot, a little and sometimes, not at all.

Is this newsworthy?  No, I don’t think so.  It’s the hyper-sensitive world that Jimmer lives in.  Everyone is always looking for an answer, when it has always been right there in front of them.

The Kings hope that Jimmer Fredette is the future point guard of the Sacramento Kings.  No disrespect to Isaiah Thomas or Tyreke Evans, but this is the plan.  Unfortunately, that is not who Jimmer was coming out of BYU and it is not who he is today, regardless of what BYU/Jimmer Fredette fans think.

It’s clear what Jimmer needs.  He needs time to learn the position.  He needs to learn how to see a trap coming, learn when to pick up his dribble and learn that jump passes haven’t worked in the NBA since Rod Strickland left the game.  He also needs to learn how to play without the ball in his hands, as well as shoot off a screen.  This isn’t an indictment, it is reality.

The talent is there.  The basketball acumen is there and eventually, the production on the floor will be there.  But it will take time.

While fans are pining for Jimmer to play all night, every night – putting him in situations to fail is not what Keith Smart wants.  For that matter, it shouldn’t be what anyone wants.  And for the record, it’s not like Jimmer is the only Kings player in this situation.

Starting power forward Jason Thompson is having, by all accounts, a breakout season for the Kings.  He missed Saturday nights’ game with an ankle sprain, his first DNP of the season, but not his first game coming off the bench since being named a starter.  Smart has chosen to bring Thompson off the bench against marginal NBA talents like Channing Frye.  Marginal, I said it, and yes Mr. Frye, Sacramento loves you too.  Frye is a stretch four.  He’s a 6-foot-11 forward, who has shot over 200 3-point attempts on the season.  While Thompson is a rebounding post machine in 2012, Frye is a bad match-up because he lives on the perimeter.  So, JT comes off the bench while Donté Greene has gotten the start.

Sure, Thompson still played in these games, but that is not always the situation with Jimmer.  Should Smart run Jimmer out there against a 5-foot-nothing jitter bug like Nate Robinson?  No, and for that matter, neither is Charles Jenkins, the Warriors reserve 220-pound point guard that likes to go into the post.  Could Smart run Jimmer out there and see what happens?  Maybe, but clearly he feels that wouldn’t be in either Jimmer’s or his teammates’ best interest.

So again we come back to having patience.  Jimmer needs a summer league and a full training camp, which he did not get this past off-season because of the lockout.  He needs to work tirelessly on his ball handling.  He needs to see plenty of traps and double-teams because as of now, he doesn’t have the experience to deal with either at the NBA level.  Jimmer needs to learn how to catch and shoot, both off a screen and as a set shooter on the perimeter.  And of course, he needs to continue to improve on the defensive end.

Notice I didn’t say that Jimmer needs to work on his passing skills.  That is something that a lot of folks are missing.  Jimmer can pass, but there is so much more to being an NBA point guard than just passing.

I understand that reasoning will do nothing for the thousands of Jimmer fans who just want to see their guy play, but let me leave you with this – what if Keith Smart is right?  What if being patient with Jimmer Fredette is the right decision and will make him a better player long-term?  What if running him out there in certain situations does lasting harm?

So I propose we give Keith Smart the benefit of the doubt.  Let’s give both of these guys a little bit of time to work this whole thing out and if that doesn’t happen, we can pass judgement on who’s fault it is then.  And if it does work out?  If Jimmer Fredette becomes the player that everyone hopes he can be, let’s make sure to remember the job that Smart did today, while so many questioned his approach.


James Ham

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