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 23, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
When you lose the best player walking the face of the earth, your team gets worse.
Oct 23, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
Love reflects on his summer and the blockbuster trade in a new “Players Tribune” essay.
Oct 23, 2014, 3:22 PM EDT
It looks like a NASA launch center… but it’s a good thing for the league.
Oct 23, 2014, 2:47 PM EDT
Cavalier star forward still adjusting to playing with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving
Oct 23, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT
Retired jersey went to New Orleans when team moved
Oct 23, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
76ers point guard originally given 5-to-50-game timeline
Oct 23, 2014, 12:57 PM EDT
Suns guard sends Clippers reserve flying
Oct 23, 2014, 12:18 PM EDT
Lakers president has strong words for Kobe detractors after ESPN report
Oct 23, 2014, 11:37 AM EDT
Kobe previously planned to play all eight preseason games
Oct 23, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
He could miss the start of the season.
Oct 23, 2014, 10:10 AM EDT
The grit and grind has an improved offense. Where do they stand in the loaded west?
Oct 23, 2014, 9:40 AM EDT
No. 6 pick in 2013 NBA draft readying to play for 76ers
Oct 23, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Bulls center had knee surgery this offseason
Oct 23, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT
Cavaliers show up Grizzlies
Oct 23, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Heat coach attempting to win first playoff series without LeBron James
Oct 23, 2014, 2:22 AM EDT
The Knicks still run some isolation.
Kobe Bryant on Julius Randle playing with Kobe, for Byron Scott: ‘If you f— this up, you’re a really big idiot’
Oct 23, 2014, 12:15 AM EDT
Lakers star likes dropping I bombs
Oct 22, 2014, 11:15 PM EDT
No charges have been filed.
Oct 22, 2014, 10:20 PM EDT
J Crossover up close and personal.
Oct 22, 2014, 9:20 PM EDT
Rockets downgraded Parsons, but he’ll have a chance to reach new heights with Mavericks
- Jeanie Buss: ‘Any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Bryant is probably a loser’ 41
- ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Memphis Grizzlies 6
- Five top candidates for NBA Rookie of the Year 20
- NBA GMs surveyed predict LeBron will win MVP, Spurs will repeat as champions 27
- Owners vote down NBA Draft lottery reform, system to stay same for this season 46
- ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 preview: Houston Rockets 24
- Kobe Bryant responds to ESPN article with basically a shrug (VIDEO) 20
- Paul George refutes report he didn’t want to play with Kobe Bryant: ‘Media reaching again’ 22