Trading Jimmer Fredette? Sounds weird, doesn’t it? So when noise broke that the Kings had indeed listened to offers for the former BYU Cougar, I was a bit taken back. After all, this was a player that forced the Kings franchise to hire two full-time employees solely dedicated to handling Jimmer jersey sales. A player that boosted King merchandise sales up 540% over the previous holiday season sale numbers. A cash cow and media love bird would be a severe understatement. And this, all of this, was with a player who struggled to see floor time. A player, when he did see that elusive floor time, struggled in it. But trading Jimmer? Really?
For whatever reasons, be it the desire to fill a void or just poor basketball decisions, the Kings have tried to force players to play the one even though they lack the ability to play the point guard position in recent years. It started with Tyreke Evans, who while physically has every gift imaginable to play the one, doesn’t yet have the mental game to do so. But the Kings tried. And tried. And tried. Eventually they found he wasn’t progressing at the needed level and he ended up playing an effective small forward as last season ended. Still in need of a point guard (at least from a backup scenario), the Kings seemed to replicate their previous stance on Evans for Fredette, forcing the Collegiate Player of the Year into an uncomfortable role.
During his BYU days, Fredette was best at being offensively aggressive – being a ball hog, essentially. Wildly running around in circles, firing up contested jumpshots, running into a mass of three or four bodies, dropping in a floater when he wasn’t shooting a pullup 29 footer – that’s what Fredette did and that’s what Fredette succeeded at. Certainly a bit unconventional and essentially everything you’re not supposed to do at the NBA level, but Jimmer got away with it and did so effectively.
Unfortunately for Jimmer and the Kings, the NBA isn’t filled with slow guards who don’t play defense or big men who struggle to make it in overseas leagues like the majority of talent he sliced and diced while playing at BYU. In no way is that a slight to Fredette, it’s just facts. He’s an undersized guard who lacks the traditional skills of those similar sized talents. All that said, Fredette possesses skills that many similar sized players don’t and players before Jimmer have shown it doesn’t matter what size or speed disadvantages you have, talent is talent assuming you know how to harness it, and that is where Jimmer needs to focus his energy.
The road hasn’t been easy for Fredette, who missed out on a Summer League and a traditional training camp due to the NBA lockout during his rookie season.. He also went through a coaching change just days into his NBA career and when combined with everything else that surrounded him, from fitting in with his teammates to playing a position/style he’s never had to play, it was a clearly overwhelming experience for the former college star.
Now entering his second season, he’s dealing with trade rumors that have more or less been confirmed by sources and beat writers close to the Kings – unfathomable thoughts just a year ago. So, what do I make of them, personally? Well – very few players are untradeable and there’s not a player you wouldn’t listen on if you’re an NBA GM – it’s your job to listen, even if you’re not interested. But trading Jimmer right now is selling at clearance prices, for no reason. A return, be it players and/or picks isn’t going to get you anything of significant value that will alter the course of the Kings franchise. The Jimmer is on a cheap, rookie deal for the next few seasons and has plenty of time to develop into a solid NBA player, despite the flaws in his game many like to focus on.
Expecting Fredette to be the player he was in college will only set one up for disappointment. The talent gap between the two levels is significant and Fredette does lack some needed athletic skills that weren’t so obvious against sub-par talent, both mentally and physically. Still, Fredette is a talented basketball player who not only is open to learning, he wants to learn. When it comes to young players, that’s a blessing in itself. No Jimmer wont ever be a superstar in game but he has plenty of on-court skill that will make him a very serviceable NBA player in due time. Be it a rich man’s Brent Price or a clone of Mike Bibby during his Vancouver days, Fredette isn’t a player the Kings need to give up on.
Sure, maybe it’ll take a bit longer then initially thought, but good things come to those who wait.