The curious case of Jimmer Fredette

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Kings could use a spark from the guy at the end of the bench, but is it too late for the Jimmer?

It's been a long time since Kings fans would cheer for Jimmer Fredette to shoot the ball the minute he crossed midcourt.

Jimmermania has subsided in Sacramento and how much of that is due to the guard's lack of abilities and how much of it is because of his circumstances over the last two-plus seasons is still unclear. Most likely, it's a little bit of both, but you get the feeling we've yet to get a legitimate look at the player Jimmer Fredette really is, which often leaves some Kings fans befuddled over the former BYU standout.

Fredette is a polarizing player, which is downright amusing considering he is one of the nicest guys you'll meet. Some cheer for him, some dislike him, fans get mad at other fans about him, and most importantly, all of the Kings coaches he has played for (three coaches in three seasons) have had trouble figuring out what to do with him.

But the Kings could use his shooting and energy right now.

The team is 2-7, shooting 41 percent from the field, 31 percent from three and scoring 93 points per game. But it's not just the stats, it's the way in which the stats are coming.

The Kings go through entire quarters where the effort just isn't there and the basket appears to be the size of a dime, leaving bricks echoing off the old walls of Sleep Train Arena.

Fredette is streaky himself and does have his deficiencies on defense, but he is the type of player that leaves it all out on the floor when he gets minutes, and he could provide a boost to a rotation that is currently lacking firepower.

The 10th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft has only played in two games so far this season. In one of those games on Nov. 9 against the Portland Trail Blazers, Fredette played 19 minutes, scored four points to go along with 3 rebounds and 3 assists and 2 steals. It was the energy of Fredette and Luc Mbah A Moute off the bench that helped ignite a comeback by the Kings late in that game.

Afterward, head coach Michael Malone had positive things to say about Fredette, mainly that he "has a good feel for the game" and that he was aggressive and "competed on the defensive end of the floor" - areas the coach has been struggling to find consistency in among his other players. In the next three games, Fredette didn't get off the bench, while Mbah A Moute has played in all of them.

Following Sunday's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, Malone had this to say about Fredette.

"To Jimmer's credit, he has maintained a very professional attitude and comes to work every day and is handling his not playing the best he possibly can. He doesn't enjoy it, I don't expect him to," Malone said.

There are a couple of things to consider here.

No. 1 - Marcus Thornton and prized rookie Ben McLemore are ahead of him at shooting guard and if they wanted to try him at point guard, he is also behind Greivis Vasquez and Isaiah Thomas.

No. 2 - the Kings have already decided they are not picking up his 2014-15 team option, which means he'll be an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Kings could end up signing him at a reduced salary, but everything at the moment indicates we're seeing Fredette's last chapter in Sacramento.

So it's possible that Pete D'Alessandro and Vivek Ranadive have simply moved on and are currently shopping him. According to USA Today's Sam Amick, a couple of teams have shown interest in him. Earlier this month, D'Alessandro told James Ham over at Cowbell Kingdom that the decision to not pick up Fredette's option was about flexibility for the front office and the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

It's also possible D'Alessandro would be playing Jimmer roulette by trotting him out for extended minutes and having his play either help or hurt his trade value.

If the Kings pull off a trade that helps turn things around both in the short- and long-term thanks to Fredette, then the delicate Jimmer dance the Kings are playing would make sense.

But the question still remains: has Fredette gotten a fair shake since he began his NBA career with the Kings?

He's never averaged more than 18.6 minutes a game and before the current logjam at the guard position, Fredette had to compete with Tyreke Evans for floor time. According to basketball-reference.com, his Per 36 career average would be 16.3 points, 3.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals. His career averages are 7.3 points, 1.5 assists and 1.1 rebounds in 16.1 minutes per game.

In an October preseason game against the Suns, he saw 32 minutes of action and responded with 23 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds on 5-7 from three.

He's dealt with the coaching carousel, his rookie season was marred by the lockout and his second season was entrenched in the relocation saga.

Let's be honest here, Fredette alone isn't going to right this ship the Kings are on and his defense and lack of a true guard position are troubling, but at a time when little seems to be working, it would be interesting to see what this guy can do given some respectable playing time. Kings fans get pretty jazzed any time Fredette enters a game and the home crowd's energy increases by quite a large margin after he makes a basket, which the rest of the team could feed off of.

During a season that is more about growing pains and changing a culture than it is about wins, Fredette is probably an afterthought at this point. But with the line between starter and bench player so blurred on the current Kings roster, a little time for the Jimmer doesn't seem too far-fetched. McLemore is still finding his way (and has plenty more time to do so) and Thornton's play has been spotty and he is already signed.

It sounds like Malone has been reminding Fredette to be prepared to play.

"I keep on telling him to stay ready because the reality is when you are 2-7, you know, everybody on that bench should be ready to play," Malone said after Sunday's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Jimmer clock continues to tick.

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