Roll back any tape of Jimmer Fredette before his NBA career began – you’ll notice a trend. A wide eyed, ear to ear grin from the former BYU Cougar. And then check out some tape from Fredette’s rookie season in the NBA and see what you find. Generally, a lot of irritation and confusion.
Jimmer Fredette is a weird player and I mean that in the kindest of ways. While most rookies come into the NBA with the weight of a small town or community on their shoulders, Jimmer did so with an entire state. Hell, some might say he did so with the weight of the entire basketball world. Jimmer was unique. Jimmer is unique. If it’s not one of thousands of local Utah businesses trying to get the former collegiate star to endorse their product/name, it was a Sacramento company trying to do the same. And if it wasn’t a corporation trying to get Fredette’s promotion, it was his agency setting up some type of activity that took Fredette away from the place he felt most comfortable – the court.
From excessively large basketball camp’s that Fredette struggled to even attend due to his insane travel schedule to autograph signings to media commitments after media commitments, there simply wasn’t enough time in the day. And this all taking place while Jimmer dealt with an NBA lockout, an early coaching change and sporadic playing time. Oh – and did I mention he was a rookie being asked to learn the NBA point guard position on the fly in a condensed NBA schedule that consisted of a game nearly every night. A player that, right or wrongly, was drafted more for his financial impact than actual game. That’s a lot to ask of anybody, let alone a 22 year old talent who was nothing short of a religious figure the past few years.
Am I trying to create an excuse for Fredette? Not in the least bit. Jimmer struggled for most of last season – sometimes heavily, but given the combination of factors, it’s not exactly difficult to see why. You wonder who could succeed in a situation like that, in all honesty.
But now, a year removed from his rookie season, Fredette is ready. Ready to return to Sacramento. Ready to calm things down around him. Ready to get back to the place that breeds comfortability. Ready to smile again.
“One thing I’ve always had was my life outside basketball. I didn’t quite have that last year,” Fredette said. “But I’m excited to get back out there. Summer (camp with the Kings, in Las Vegas) was good. I’m playing the game I love. I’ll get back to smiling this year. I learned a lot. I’m really looking forward to working with my teammates and coaches, having a lot better year. Hopefully being a lot more consistent.”
Given everything Jimmer went through last year, his rough season was understandable, frustrating as it was at times – both for he and the King fan base. And while he may never be the superstar so many wished him to be, Fredette’s still a hell of a player that shouldn’t be cast aside due to a poor rookie year. In a time of ruthless media along with the Lebron James’ and Blake Griffin’s of the world, expectations of NBA-readiness have skyrocketed. If you’re not succeeding within a handful of games, you’re all but written off as a bust – especially when you’re one of the main focal points in the basketball world, with pundits ready to claim “I told you so”. Fredette’s had a target on his back before he ever set foot on an NBA court – but nothing kills a hater more than a smile.