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.
Mar 11, 2014, 4:43 PM EDT
It’s been clear for a while that Kobe Bryant was done for the season. The Lakers would not say that publicly for the same reason the Bulls would not say Derrick Rose would not come back last playoffs when we all knew he wouldn’t. They don’t want to anger their star player, and if fans…
Mar 11, 2014, 3:44 PM EDT
If Andrea Bargnani is out the rest of the season, Knicks fans will be good with that.
Mar 11, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT
Why to the Boston Celtics need a St. Patrick’s Day uniform? Good question. But they have one now, with sleeves.
Mar 11, 2014, 1:56 PM EDT
The last time LeBron went back-to-back games without a trip to the free throw line he was a rookie.
Mar 11, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT
To be fair to the ball boy, nobody expects Tyler Hansbrough to make a steal on the perimeter then race out on the fast break by himself.
Mar 11, 2014, 12:25 PM EDT
Don’t use cotton swabs, kids.
Mar 11, 2014, 11:47 AM EDT
With backup center Ian Mahinmi out for the night, the Andrew Bynum era in Indiana will begin Tuesday against Boston.
Mar 11, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT
Conflicts with yesterday’s prominent report
Mar 11, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT
All the way to playoffs?
Mar 11, 2014, 10:43 AM EDT
Also compares his phone to bell bottoms, which might be pretty ironic, but I’m not a fasion expert.
Mar 11, 2014, 10:03 AM EDT
Yannick Noah would rather do more of the Dikembe Mutombo finger wag
Mar 11, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
This seems like more than a coincidence.
Mar 11, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT
Griffin should have gone for the full tear, though.
Mar 11, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
“There’s no better preparation than going straight to the NBA… I think the NBA is the best teacher.”
Mar 11, 2014, 3:20 AM EDT
Blake Griffin is good at basketball. Also: Kyle Korver can still shoot.
Mar 11, 2014, 3:05 AM EDT
Los Angeles learned an important less on Monday — don’t let up against the Suns.
Mar 11, 2014, 1:18 AM EDT
“We got tangled up and went down and, you know,” Griffin said with a grin after the game.”Took a little forearm. But you know, it happens.”
Mar 11, 2014, 12:14 AM EDT
This was not the one shot Griffin missed on Monday.
Mar 10, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT
Guard has been out since Jan. 10 surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.
- Vogel: Andrew Bynum to play for Indiana Pacers Tuesday night 10
- Report: Phil Jackson expected to finalize contract with Knicks by end of week 31
- The Extra Pass: Gerald Green doesn’t regret moment of his winding journey to NBA stardom 11
- Monday NBA grades: Blake Griffin shows off his jumper (and yes, he can still dunk) 9
- Suns’ P.J. Tucker ejected after elbow thrown to Blake Griffin’s head (VIDEO) 19