Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette has had a tough autumn.
The Kings declined to pick up his option for 2014-15, meaning he will be a free agent next summer, and his spot in the rotation evaporated as he was left on the bench for in seven of the team’s first nine games.
But as Sacramento stumbled to a 2-7 start, coach Michael Malone started making some changes and one of those was dusting off Fredette and giving him a role with the second unit.
He played 31 minutes in the Kings’ back-to-back wins against the Suns on Tuesday and Wednesday, scoring 11 points and handing out five assists while knocking down 3-of-4 from downtown.
“What I like about Jimmer—and he’s been played almost exclusively at [point guard] in the past—we’re kind of playing him more off the ball,” Malone told the Sacramento Bee. “What I like about him and Isaiah [Thomas] together or [with] Greivis [Vasquez] is he can make plays, he can make shots, he can put the ball on the floor.”
Fredette was a controversial pick when Sacramento tabbed him 10th overall in 2011. His early development was stunted by the lockout which reduced training camp to a blur in his rookie season and consistent playing time was hard to come by under former coach Keith Smart.
Fredette would play 37 minutes one night in a start and then come off the bench a week later and play eight minutes.
But Malone needed something, because the Kings were stumbling along with a 42.6 percent shooting mark and a 32.9 percent clip from 3-point range, so he has unleashed the Jimmer, perhaps the best shooter on the club.
Fredette thinks this might, at last, be the opportunity he’s been hoping for, a real opportunity to earn his keep as a regular part of the rotation.
“It seems like that,” Fredette said. “I played in two games, and we won them both, and it was great to be a part of that. Hopefully they will and I really think they will. They’re trying to find a chemistry on this team and help us get wins. It’s up to them, but I think they’re true to that.”