Pacific or Central Time Zone, it’s still Jimmer-time. As a member of the New Orleans Pelicans, Jimmer Fredette was back where his NBA career started on Friday, the friendly confines of Sleep Train Arena.
“I’m still the same old guy,” Fredette told Cowbell Kingdom. “You know, just normal Jimmer. Just working hard and continuing to live out my dream of playing in the NBA. I have a great family and a great life and I’m still the same old guy.”
The Sacramento Kings drafted Fredette 10th overall in 2011, but he failed to live up to immense hype. The BYU star lasted two and a half seasons with the club, averaging seven points on 41.6 percent shooting and 1.5 assists in 171 appearances (seven starts). Fredette’s minutes dwindled until he was waived February 27, 2014, and the guard joined the Chicago Bulls where he logged 56 minutes the rest of the schedule.
Back to square one, Fredette signed a one-year, minimum deal with the Pelicans last offseason, reuniting with a few ex-Kings like Tyreke Evans.
Besides former teammates, Fredette had no familiarity with the Big Easy, which took a while to get used to.
“It’s much different,” Fredette explained. “Everything is pretty different about it. But I like both places I lot. Sacramento is great. I had a great time here. People were awesome and you get to know the city and all the stuff that it has to offer, and same with New Orleans. There’s a lot of festivals down there. There’s a lot of great food. But it’s a different and very unique place. You get to learn to love it when you get to actually experience it for more than just a week or two.”
As for Fredette’s loyal, vocal and opinionated fan base, not everyone made the trip down south. The “Jimmermania” frenzy has lost some stream since his Boise and Sacramento stints.
“It’s definitely not what it was before, and when I was at BYU,” Fredette said. “But I definitely still have great support. Every arena I go to, there’s always someone screaming my name and it’s awesome. I appreciate the fans that still are faithful.”
Despite a change in scenery, Fredette is still struggling to find consistency on the floor. This season, the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder has produced a career-low 3.7 points on 38.4 percent accuracy and 1.2 assists in 10.5 minutes a contest. He’s appeared in 48 of 75 games, often subbing in for garbage time or 3-point shooting situations. The guard recorded a DNP – Coach’s Decision Friday night against his former team.
Fredette’s diehard supporters have regularly argued that coaches refuse to play him for political reasons, but the ball handler disagrees.
“It’s definitely a difficult transition (from college to pros),” Fredette emphasized. “Most guys don’t come into the NBA and then given a ton of playing time right away. Usually it’s just a few select guys a year that get that. It’s all about working hard, staying up, staying positive. Working hard as you can, and when you’re given your opportunity, go out there and show that you can play.”
“I think the biggest thing is that you just keep working hard and control what you can control,” he added. “There’s not a lot of things that you can control in this league, and you just work as hard as you can and control your attitude, control how you’re working and those are the things you can control. Don’t worry about the rest.”
With that mindset, Fredette has remained focused and made the most of Pelicans practices to improve one of his biggest weaknesses as a King – defense. He’s allowed assignments to shoot 1.6 percent better on field goals than their season average, which is mediocre yet miles ahead of the +5.7 difference he allowed a year ago.
Fredette still has a ways to go to become a regular rotation player, but escaping the pressure of living up to his lottery status has put him at ease.
Many will view Fredette’s stay in Sacramento as a failure. For the 26-year-old, it was a lesson that may very well help extend his NBA presence.