Feb 13, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Jimmer Fredette – the bright lights of Madison Square Garden shining on him – walked the ball up court and called out a play. Of course, Fredette has never been big on plays. His freelancing, gunning style endeared him to fans at Brigham Young, where he carried the program to unprecedented heights.
Fredette noticed his defender backpedaling, and whatever play Fredette was calling went out the window. He pulled up for a 26-foot 3-pointer.
“You dream about this,” said Fredette, a native of Glen Falls, N.Y., whose shot gave him 13 points in his first 4:19 of playing time.
On the Kings bench, Quincy Acy excitedly spiked his towel to the floor.
Unfortunately for Fredette, the path of Acy’s towel – straight down – symbolizes Fredette’s college-to-pro transition more accurately than his breathtaking shot.
Can Fredette build off his performance Wednesday – a career-high 24 points in a win over the New York Knicks – and carve out a successful NBA future?
Just three years ago, Fredette was the darling of college basketball. The Kings, via the Milwaukee Bucks, got him with the No. 10 pick in the 2011 draft. “Jimmer is exactly what the Kings need right now,” said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player.
Fredette struggled as a rookie, and though he improved moderately in his second year, the Kings declined the fourth-year option on his rookie contract before this season. That will make Fredette a free agent after the season, putting Fredette on a precarious path.
In the draft class before his, eight players had their fourth-year option declined.
Two, Dominique Jones and Lazar Hayward, are already out of the league. Elliot Williams likely would be out of the NBA too if the tanking 76ers weren’t willing to give minus young players a chance at minutes. Luke Babbitt made a roster only as a mid-season injury replacement.
On the bright side, Wesley Johnson and Xavier Henry are hanging on with the lousy Lakers. Cole Aldrich occasionally gets to play for the Knicks. And Al-Farouq Aminu starts for the Pelicans. None of those four are in the most glamorous positions, but they’re all firmly entrenched in the NBA for at least this season.
That’s a 50-50 shot for players in Fredette is heading into after this season. Which direction will he go?
Signs are increasingly pointing to Fredette lasting in the league, at least for a little while.
He’ll probably always be a harmful defender, asking him to distribute the ball is just asking for turnovers. But after shooting barely above league from beyond the arc as a rookie, Fredette has made 36-of-73 3-pointers this season – a league-best 49.3 percent.
Renowned for his ridiculous range by college standards, Fredette has expanded his comfort zone deep beyond the NBA arc (23 feet, 9 inches above the break and 22 feet in the corners).
It has made all the difference.
Just 6-foot-2, Fredette sometimes struggles to create shooting space over longer NBA defenders, especially because he’s working off the ball more than he did at BYU. But long 3-pointers help Fredette get off cleaner shots.
He’s never been shy about attempting those deep bombs, but his accuracy on them has improved remarkably in his three professional seasons. He even makes them more often now than his closer 3s.
Here’s Fredette’s season-by-season shooting percentage on 3-pointers from 25 to 29 feet (purple) and closer 3-pointers (black):
Fredette actually leads the NBA in shooting percentage between 25 and 29 feet (more than 25 attempts), making 22-of-41 such shots (53.7 percent).
His 26-footer wasn’t even his longest basket Wednesday. He also made a 28-footer as a closing Carmelo Anthony couldn’t make up the extra ground to challenge the shot. (And spare the Melo defense jokes, at least for a moment. He was actually trying to contest the attempt.)
By then, Acy’s towel had been picked up from the floor. It wasn’t doomed to stay down forever.
Fredette, it seems, isn’t either.
He’s lifting himself back up, one step back farther behind the arc at a time.
Oct 31, 2014, 3:22 AM EDT
LeBron slides into the loser category for a night.
Oct 31, 2014, 3:10 AM EDT
The Clippers will take the win, but it wasn’t pretty.
Oct 31, 2014, 2:14 AM EDT
There is no official timetable for his return, but we are likely talking 6 weeks or more he is out.
Oct 31, 2014, 12:21 AM EDT
Players should never angrily engage with fans.
Oct 30, 2014, 11:40 PM EDT
Big time shot.
Oct 30, 2014, 11:16 PM EDT
Nobody saw this coming.
Oct 30, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT
The banner is back.
Oct 30, 2014, 8:43 PM EDT
Oct 30, 2014, 7:42 PM EDT
The Sixers CEO fired back, but taking on a Hall of Fame coach isn’t usually wise.
Oct 30, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT
It’s going to be a rough transition for the Knicks. New Yorkers have to be patient (not always their strong suit).
Oct 30, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT
It’s a sign Dan Gilbert is pulling out the checkbook to spend.
Oct 30, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT
The Spurs just got better.
Oct 30, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT
Look for a decision sometime after Christmas.
Oct 30, 2014, 3:55 PM EDT
The time the Nuggets center responded to a heckler
Oct 30, 2014, 3:11 PM EDT
Cleveland, as of a few days ago, reportedly hadn’t begun negotiations with Thompson
Oct 30, 2014, 2:35 PM EDT
Faried reveals Nuggets defensive game plan against Pistons
LeBron makes emotional return to Cleveland tonight, new Nike ad shows city standing together (VIDEO)
Oct 30, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT
The season is about process for the Cavaliers, but tonight is about celebration of home.
Oct 30, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT
It was a good night to be a Hornets fan.
Oct 30, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT
Bulls center has discussed Phil Jackson with his younger brother
Oct 30, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT
Gasol was dominant opening night, and Derrick Rose is thrilled to finally have some help.
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