Jimmer Fredette wonders who's minding the store, as Steve Buscemi looks on (Getty Images)
Considering that we're in the midst of, while all full of cheer, leaning on veteran players to turn their careers around in their late 20s or early 30s, writing off a 23-year-old like Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette seems like a pointless maneuver. So we won't do that. What we will do is worry, coming off a season that saw the shooter shoot pretty poorly, and relay that currently the business of being all about Jimmer Fredette is finally more about basketball than it is about business as he heads into his second season with Sacto.
That's the news out of Lehi, Utah; where the Kings guard recently held a basketball camp for kids. Unlike Dwight Howard, Fredette showed up for his. It was in contrast to last year's camp, to hear Jason Franchuk of the Daily Herald tell it, where Jimmer pulled a mini-Dwight Howard around camp time as his obligations stacked upon themselves. From the Herald:
Then, in 2011, there were about 650 campers over five days at the same location. Fredette didn't stick around the entire time, which created some consternation from folks who spent hard-earned cash to get their kids some interaction time with Fredette.
Blair Giles, who oversees the new Fredette Family Foundation, said there weren't many complainers — but those who did were answered personally by a family member or himself and encouraged to come to this camp free of charge.
Fredette then was either fulfilling other responsibilities created by his agency, or working out. And there was the complicated but unavoidable fact that his presence created chaos for the camp as a whole.
Fredette raved about the experience last year, but this one is noticeably different and mostly devoid of hype. The Jimmer souvenir shop isn't even perched right at the front entrance.
Just the idea of a souvenir shop for a player who would be months away from signing his first NBA contract (remember, last summer, the NBA's lockout prevented rookies from making an agreement with the teams that drafted them prior to the labor impasse) feels a little sketchy. Load up on memorabilia and apparel all you want, but part of the interest in that is that you actually get an official team's uniform or at least colors on the swag. To buy a Jimmer-only shirt or cap seems a bit off.
That's where Fredette was last year. According to Franchuk, those off-court financial responsibilities dragged way into Sacramento's truncated training camp, hamstrung by the extended lockout. This year, things have streamlined. Good thing, too, because Fredette's game is teetering on the brink.
It's not just that Fredette's lack of quickness prevented him from getting easy looks last year, Jimmer wasn't even lights out when left completely alone. He shot 38 percent from the field and 36 percent from behind the 3-point arc, taking a whopping 6.9 3-pointers for every 36 minutes he played despite shooting at the league's average mark, while not finding much in the way of assists and taking 48 free throws in 61 games.
Did the points crank way up (Fredette managed 7.6 per game in 18.6 minutes per contest during the regular season) in last month's NBA Summer League action? Sure, Jimmer tossed in a remarkable 18 points per game in under 29 minutes in five Summer League appearances, and while he did well to get to the line 40 times (referees call everything in the Summer League) he also shot 35.8 percent along the way. A five-game sample size, sure, but 35.8 percent. In the Summer League.
Our take on Fredette is the same as it was when he was piling up the points at BYU, when the Kings used a lottery selection on him in the 2011 draft, and when he struggled for all of his rookie year. The guy is a third or fourth guard. A shooter off the bench, which shouldn't get in the way of a career that could hit double-digit years.
Absolutely no shame in that, and if the shot is true, then Fredette can carve that impressive niche. When Sacramento signed Aaron Brooks earlier this summer, and stories abounded about Fredette having to take a step back as a potential starter, it was a head-scratcher. Brooks is far from an NBA great, but to consider Fredette starter material (and fret over the acquisition of a "replacement" in Brooks) is the stretch at absolute best.
If Jimmer is still struggling at below 40 percent deep into 2012-13, it might be time to revisit those already modest expectations. The warming note is that a proper offseason and clarity of purpose could remove all the entanglements that forced those shots to go sour during his rookie year.
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- Jimmer Fredette