"Aggression" was the buzzword for Jimmer Fredette during the offseason.
The Kings wanted to see the guard rebound from a rookie season in which he looked timid offensively.
But aggression wasn't to be limited to offense, and Fredette has responded, showing more fight on defense at the start of training camp, surprising coaches and teammates.
"I want to be able to stay on the floor as much as I can," Fredette said. "And to be able to do that for coach (Keith) Smart, you've got to play defense and be in the right spot at the right time. I think I can do that."
There were doubts Fredette could after he struggled defensively as a rookie. It was a concern about him entering last year's NBA draft, and he looked overmatched at times in his first season.
With Fredette struggling on offense and a nonfactor on defense, it was hard for him to earn playing time. He understood that to emerge in a crowded backcourt, his defense had to be better.
To improve the NBA's worst defense from last season, Smart is requiring guards to be more aggressive against opposing ballhandlers, and Fredette hasn't embarrassed himself.
"We've shared that with all our guards: 'You've got to get up and pressure the ball. Be 100 percent up on the man as much as possible,' "Smart said. "And he's shown us that he can do it."
Fredette spent his offseason trying to maximize his quickness and improve his defense.
Fredette hasn't reached defensive All-NBA status, but he has improved noticeably from last season, when he took more of a hands-off approach to defense.
"He's just overall a better player, and defensive-wise he's a presence," said guard Isaiah Thomas. "He's just not a guy you can just go at. He's holding his own. He's a lot stronger and a lot quicker."
Fredette has made strides physically and mentally on defense. He's learning not to worry about fouling out and to use his body to counter the opposition better.
At BYU, the Cougars couldn't afford to lose Fredette to fouls. That's no longer the case.
"It's OK you can be aggressive (in the NBA), especially in the paint," Fredette said. "You can try to stay in front of guys and body them up a little bit. And you get six fouls here. So you've got to use your fouls wisely and be aggressive and try not to let them get by you."
Fredette also is helped by his understanding of the Kings' defensive scheme.
Thomas said this has made Fredette a better "help" defender.
"My defensive knowledge is pretty good," Fredette said. "I know the scheme of what we're trying to do, so I can push guys in the right direction and be there on the help defense."
And Fredette said he won't be afraid to give someone a little push literally especially if he hasn't been called for a foul for being physical.
"Obviously, you don't want to pick up stupid fouls," Fredette said. "But if the guy's going by you, give him a nudge and see if you can't get back in front of him."
Smart is pleased with Fredette's effort. And that's a good start.
"That's all I want to see, a guy like him working hard at it," Smart said. "If he's working hard at it, it will work out for him."