Jimmer Fredette's time as a Sacramento King is coming to an end. Few players in Kings history have been as polarizing to a fanbase as Fredette, as he brought in many new fans to the team that just wanted to see him play and do in the NBA what he did in college.
Jimmer faced an uphill battle the minute he became a King. He came to the Kings in one of the worst NBA deals in recent memory, with Sacramento trading down three spots in the draft and taking on more salary (John Salmons) in the process. The Kings also took another Point Guard with the last pick in the draft, a little guy from the University of Washington by the name of Isaiah Thomas.
At the time, drafting Jimmer made some sense despite guys like Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson and Nikola Vucevic (who the Kings likely would have drafted if Jimmer or Kemba Walker weren't available) still on the board. The Kings organization was still very high on Tyreke Evans, and considered him the face of the franchise. Jimmer was drafted with the hope that he could be the perfect complement to Evans; a guy who could share ball-handling duties while spacing the floor.
But it wasn't meant to be. First, a lockout cut training camp and summer league and limited practice opportunities due to the constrained schedule. Then Head Coach Paul Westphal was fired just 7 games into the season. The more critical development for Jimmer though was the fact that he simply wasn't ready to be an NBA Point Guard. His handle was awkward, his confidence wasn't there, and his defense was atrocious. Fredette's struggles opened up the door for Isaiah Thomas, who quickly proved that he was ready and already very good.
Over the next two years, the opportunities grew fewer and fewer for Fredette. In his rookie year, he averaged 18.6 minutes a game, but that decreased to 14.0 minutes last year and 11.3 this year. Despite all that, Jimmer managed to improve his game each and every year. His shooting has gone up from 38.6% to 47.5%. His three point percentage has skyrocketed to the top of the league at 49.3% from a rather pedestrian 36.1%. His handle and playmaking ability improved, and while his defense never became good, it wasn't for a lack of trying.
Jimmer was a class act throughout his time in Sacramento, never complaining and never giving up. As his time in Sacramento comes to a close, I can't help but feel happy for him that he now gets to go to a team of his choosing, one where his abilities can be used more effectively. Jimmer can still have a long and successful career, and for his sake I hope he does. But a small part of me is a little sad that it wasn't able to happen here. Few people can electrify a crowd when they get going like Jimmer can, or shoot the ball as well. It's fitting that the last real memory we'll have of him as a King was his excellent game against the Knicks, the best game of his career.
Here's hoping he has many more of those games ahead of him. Best of luck to you Jimmer, wherever you may go.