Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
Today around SB Nation we're discussing early-season surprises. For the Kings, one of our nicest surprises has been the improved play of Jimmer Fredette.
As he entered the NBA Draft out of BYU, nobody seemed exactly sure where Jimmer Fredette would or should be drafted. The Sacramento Kings traded Beno Udrih and the 7th overall pick, receiving John Salmons and the 10th overall pick. That 10th overall pick became The Jimmer. At the time, there were cries that 10 was still to early. There were some who said the Kings should have just taken him at 7.
Over the course of Jimmer's rookie season, he did little to silence his critics. Jimmer struggled on both ends of the floor. He looked completely lost with the ball in his hand. There were questions of whether Jimmer could ever be developed into a point guard. Hell, there were questions of whether he could ever last in the NBA beyond his rookie contract. His rookie season was a disappointment, to say the least.
Those concerns were easy to dismiss, though. He'd had no training camp and no access to the team thanks to the lockout. His head coach was fired 7 games into his rookie season. The accelerated schedule of the lockout-shortened season meant he had less practice time. There were tons of perfectly reasonable excuses.
Then the Vegas Summer League happened. Despite one prolific scoring outburst, Jimmer still did not look good. He looked so bad that we commonly accept his poor Summer League play as an explanation for the organization bringing in the redundant Aaron Brooks.
With all of that considered, and in a season nearly completely lacking bright spots, Jimmer has been a pleasant surprise. Jimmer's scoring rate his increased dramatically. He looks confident with the ball. His decision-making with the ball his improved noticeably, even if he may never actually become a point guard. He's become a guy that Keith Smart can turn to for a spark off the bench. There have been calls around here for increased playing time. And sure, those calls existed last season, but this year their coming from Kings fans as opposed to Jimmer fans.
Jimmer still has issues. His defense is still a serious liability. And all of Jimmer's early success comes with the approval of the Small Sample Size Institute. Nonetheless, it's been a nice surprise.