For lottery picks, NBA stardom is readily anticipated. Although the path to Association acclaim is paved with respective uncertainty, a budding star can dream, right?
In Jimmer Fredette’s case, breathing new life into his dream remains priority number one, no matter the obstacles he’s encountered in pursuit of NBA rotation minutes. When he was selected 10th overall by the Kings in 2011, the BYU product was expected to make an immediate splash, a la fellow sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Fredette’s long-range mastery, many assumed, made him tailor-made to space offenses, evidenced by his indelible mark on BYU’s record books.
Unfortunately, Fredette’s path to an NBA rotation has been anything but predictable.
Now hooping for the Nuggets’ Summer League squad, Fredette has journeyed through Sacramento, Chicago, New Orleans, San Antonio, New Orleans again, and his home state of New York, where he bounced between the Knicks’ NBA and D-League franchises, parlaying the latter into Second Team All-NBDL honors. A hooper searching for a home, Fredette’s hope is to turn his Summer League (16.0 points, 45% FG, 41.1 3PT) into another opportunity for NBA rotation minutes.
“It was great, being able to find my game,” Fredette said about his D-League stint. “Really being able to hone in on what I do in order to be successful in this league, playing it to the best of my ability. It was a good thing for me, and I’ll continue building on it for the summer.”
And build on it, he has. Fredette’s shooting prowess is an obvious asset to today’s game, and shooting 41.1 percent from deep this summer certainly won’t hurt his NBA chances. The trouble behind Fredette finding his footing is his overall game, be it defense or running an offense. Shooting isn’t the only necessary tool for rotation minutes. Coaches not only welcome high-arcing three-pointers, but also well-executed defensive switches and rhythmic ball movement, relative weaknesses for an undersized volume scorer relying on scoring prowess for his meal ticket.
“Be aggressive and score the basketball,” Fredette rebuttled when asked for what the Nuggets need from him this summer. “I think every NBA player is trying to prove himself every day. It’s a league where guys are trying to play to the best of their ability, whether you’re a superstar or trying to make the NBA.”
Fredette says he’s worked on everything this summer. “Defensively, I feel like I’ve really progressed. Passing the basketball, I feel like I’ve gotten better with that. I’m better than I’ve ever been and I’m continuing to work and get better.”
Even for the most well-accomplished college stars, transitioning to the NBA boasts no guarantees. For every seamless fit, there are a few diamonds waiting to be distinguished from the rough. In Fredette’s case, among hundreds of fellow NBA hopefuls, a high-arcing jumper isn’t the only way to stand out, but NBA dreams have been fulfilled with worse tools.