With Kings training camp set to tip-off Wednesday, get an inside look at Jimmer’s progression as he enters the 2012-13 season. Plus, DMC & Tyreke dish on the team’s initial practice.
Jimmer Fredette is first to admit that while he enjoyed the experience, his first NBA campaign – especially in the early stages – did not go as well as he’d anticipated.
“(My rookie season) was kind of up-and-down – (I was) trying to get more consistent and continuing to get better,” said No. 7 in his 2011-12 exit interview. “I felt like I got a lot more comfortable as the season went on and learned my role a lot more.”
Over the final 15 games of 2011-12, Fredette averaged 9.1 points per game – up from 7.1 over his prior 46 appearances – while scoring in double-digits eight times and hitting at least one three-pointer in all but two contests. Earning extended court time due to his improved shooting and facilitating down the stretch, the guard played over 20 minutes in 10 of the final 14 games.
During Monday’s Kings Media Day, Fredette provided insight into the focus of his offseason workouts in preparation of the upcoming season.
“I’ve worked a lot on my midrange game – really with a lot of the floaters and runners and different things once you get passed the guy in the lane,” he said. “I’ve been working on that a lot, and obviously the screen-and-roll game offensively and working on my defensive quickness always, and just getting tougher. (I’m) just trying to get that (scorer’s mentality back).”
Before he captured nearly every National Player of the Year honor in 2010-11, Fredette underwent a similar learning curve at BYU after recording only 7.0 points on 40.7 percent shooting from the field in 18.5 minutes per game off the bench as a freshman. A hard-working student of the game, he went on to increase his scoring average each year in college, from 16.2 points per contest as a sophomore to an NCAA-leading 28.9 as a senior.
A similar upward trend could be in store for the 6-foot-2 long-range bomber in 2012-13, who worked diligently with his trainer during the offseason on everything from his shooting to his dribbling and ball-handling. Expected to provide a scoring spark and playmaking as a top reserve for the Kings, Fredette put up 18.0 points and 3.4 assists per contest in Summer League – including a 30-point outing in which he buried a string of patented pull-up jumpers and runners – which he believes served as an instrumental tune-up for the regular season.
“I think (Summer League) helped me a lot, being able to go through that this year – we didn’t get a chance to do that during my rookie year – so it’s good to be able to get those games in during the summer to be ready and prepare yourself for this year,” he said. “The biggest thing is … mentally, being aggressive out there. (Head Coach Keith Smart) really wanted me to be aggressive in those games, and shoot the ball and play the way I always have, so I was able to do that. I’m excited to have that translate into this season.”
Kings Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reynolds believes Fredette’s versatile game, which features crafty moves and spot-up jumpers on top of unlimited range, is reminiscent of former Kings star Mike Bibby, as well as several other standout guards.
“I personally see Jimmer as kind of a 2012 Steve Kerr or John Paxson – guys who were really, really good basketball players, who’d been primarily lead guards in college but made adjustments to where they were very comfortable off the ball,” says Reynolds.
“It didn’t happen for them over night either. They went though some real adjustments in their careers, but good shooters and good competitors and smart people find a way – and I think Jimmer fits all of those categories.”
After watching Fredette compete during Vegas Summer League, fellow second-year player Isaiah Thomas believes the high-scoring guard is on the verge of a major breakout.
“Once Jimmer gets comfortable and gets that confidence he had at BYU,” says No. 22. “Then, he’s going to be a full force to be reckoned with because he can shoot with the best of them in the NBA.”
– Coach Keith Smart stated on Tuesday that in addition to going over defensive concepts, the main focus of the team’s initial practice was conditioning drills.
“It’s always been a great barometer for me (in) places I’ve been to get guys in great shape,” said Smart, revealing that nearly every player passed the rigorous test. “(I) give them a plan in the summer to eventually get to where they are (in peak playing shape).”
With training camp set to tip-off on Wednesday in Colorado Springs, Colo., Smart believes the retreat will allow Sacramento players to build chemistry both on and off the court.
“I think any time you can have training camp away, it’s always going to help the team,” said the Kings leader. “I know where this team is – being here all year – I know what this team needs very well, so we can go somewhere and force the issue to keep bonding … I want to hear the conversation at breakfast, at lunch, at dinner, that they’re talking about the games – that’s how you grow a basketball team to make a step. We made a great step today, and we’ve got to make a hundred more – that’s the goal.”
– While he wasn’t excited about heading to Colorado Springs at first, DeMarcus Cousins – who revealed he passed the conditioning test, calling it the toughest one he’s undergone – warmed up to the trip, recognizing the benefits of practicing at a high altitude.
“I know that it’ll be good for us,” said No. 15. “We all know it’s a lot tougher to play in Colorado, so just that alone will help us conditioning-wise and (help) take our team to another level. I’m excited about the idea.”
Tyreke Evans echoed a similar sentiment in regard to traveling to El Paso County, recounting how much harder he had to work the first time he played a game in Denver.
“I didn’t agree with it at first, but I think it’s going to be good – (with) the altitude, it’s tough to breathe out there,” said No. 13. “I think we’ll get a good run and be in shape when we come back to Sacramento, so I agree with it. It’s pretty cool.”
– Stay current with Kings.com for complete coverage of Kings Training Camp from Colorado Springs.
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