LAS VEGAS What do we know about Jimmer Fredette and his NBA career at this point?
Certainly not enough.
Though projected as an excellent shooter with developing point guard skills when he was acquired a year ago by the Kings, the former BYU standout wasn't an excellent shooter and only occasionally impressed with his playmaking skills.
But that's what the summer league is all about. Live and learn, and mostly learn. It's about introductions hello, Thomas Robinson and experimentation, which means throwing Fredette to the Wolves and the Lakers and the Bobcats, and trying to figure out how he fits into the Kings' backcourt rotation.
And, just as importantly, trying to figure out who he is.
"Jimmer has a gift (shooting)," coach Keith Smart said before the Kings outlasted the Lakers on Saturday night at Cox Pavilion, "but he has to be himself. He took 20 shots in college and made nine of them.
"We need him to do more of that. I just told him to be aggressive when he has the ball and when he doesn't have the ball. The rest of it will come."
The NBA is a combination mind/body experience. It's not a league that protects its young. Players drafted a lot higher than Fredette often wither on benches, get traded or waived, or are forced to revive careers overseas.
Fredette is only 23 and only approaching his second season, so it's not like his Kings career is in jeopardy. The NBA's labor impasse also deprived him of an inaugural summer league and a typical four-week training camp invaluable experiences for all rookies.
But the Kings are definitely looking for some clarity and, with their 2011 first-round pick (10th overall) continuing to receive extensive playing time at both backcourt positions, eager to assess his offseason development.
Better decisions on pick-and-rolls. More effective use of screens. More force defensively. And while Fredette may not be tall, he has wide shoulders and a strong, sturdy frame; he absolutely can be more physically assertive.
His shaken confidence is another matter. Jimmer hasn't been the Jimmer swaggering and charismatic, a capable, at times outrageous shotmaker since he left Provo. In a 66-game rookie season that included a coaching change and a significant shift in offensive philosophy, he averaged 7.6 points and shot 38 percent (and 36 from three-point range), and became an increasingly withdrawn, remote presence in the locker room.
Instead of consistent progress, there were hints, the times he found a rhythm with his pullup jumpers, used his crossover to break down defenders, and tossed baseball passes for layups. But the more frequent image was of Fredette passing up open looks, overdribbling, and attempting ill-advised jump-passes that too often resulted in turnovers.
"I tried to change my game," Fredette admitted, "and they (the Kings) don't want me to do that. I was an aggressive scoring point guard in college. I've got to get back to that. When I'm aggressive, it opens everything up for everyone else. It's all mental."
Or at least partly mental, and in that regard, Fredette scored points against the Lakers. Though he converted only three of 11 field goal attempts (and went 1 for 6 from three-point range), in contrast to his performance Friday, when he labored against Charlotte's traps and fullcourt pressure, he squared his shoulders, had a decent stat line (15 points, three boards, four assists) and was at his best at the end.
First, he attacked the lane and withstood the contact, earning a muscular three-point play. Then with three minutes remaining, he snapped a one-bounce, give-and-go pass that Tony Mitchell threw down for a resounding dunk.
"I feel like I played a lot better, much more aggressive," a visibly relieved Fredette said later. "I didn't shoot the ball great from three-point land, but that will come. I already know that. A lot of close shots, in and out, and those will fall."