Kings' Fredette still has a point to make

Published: Sunday, Mar. 3, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Thursday, Apr. 18, 2013 - 7:54 pm

Through all the Kings' lineup shuffling, Jimmer Fredette still believes he's an NBA point guard.

Not an undersized shooting guard, but a point guard, the role he's known his entire basketball life.

And with 22 games left in the season, Fredette is still out to prove he is an NBA point guard. That he can deal with the aggressive defenders who get into his body and take away his shooting space.

There's still concern among the coaching staff as to whether Fredette's release on his shot is quick enough. As long as he plays the point, teams will crowd and trap Fredette with bigger defenders.

Fredette believes when given the chance, he does just fine.

"You just go out there and do what you feel natural doing," Fredette said. "You've just got to shoot it when you're open, and if you're not, try to take it to the basket or get other guys involved. It's a process; you just go through it. I think I'm doing a good job. It's just about doing the best you can with the opportunity you get."

Fredette's shooting has improved in all areas in his second season, but he's playing less (18.6 minutes per game as a rookie down to 14.4 this season).

With the waiving of Aaron Brooks, Fredette figures to be the backup to Isaiah Thomas most nights. But Toney Douglas could take minutes from Fredette, too.

Fredette said he has to "take it game by game" when it comes to his playing time.

In Wednesday's win at Orlando, Fredette entered for Thomas, who picked up two quick fouls. But in Friday's loss at San Antonio, Douglas was in the game first.

Kings coach Keith Smart remains optimistic about Fredette's progress running a team.

"He's gotten better from last year, he's improved as the season's gone, and he'll take another jump next season," Smart said. "He's starting to get an understanding of the NBA, the personnel in the NBA and what you can and can't do against certain teams in the NBA."

Smart also hopes the addition of Douglas, who arrived a week ago and has been vocal with teammates, helps Fredette.

Of the three point guards, Fredette is the least likely to be overheard getting on his teammates. Fredette has worked on that, but he's cut from the lead-by-example cloth.

And in a locker room with several strong personalities, that doesn't work.

"You already have Isaiah being a communicating-type player, and that will push Jimmer to be a little more talkative in terms of running a basketball team," Smart said. "Because that's part of his growth as well."

So is Fredette's ability to get his shot off against bigger players.

One reason Smart likes to play Fredette off the ball is it frees him to come off screens or spot up for jump shots.

When the game slows down, opponents crowd Fredette and trap him off pick-and-roll plays.

Smart said to play the point, Fredette must learn to change pace and realize defenders are closing out on him just short of getting to his body. That way, they can take away his driving opportunity while being able to contest his shot.

"He has to get away from worrying about how far or how close a guy is to his shot because there are some good shots he turns down and I get on him all the time," Smart said.

Fredette said he can figure out how to deal with bigger defenders when given playing time. His ability to do that will dictate how much he plays some nights.

With Marcus Thornton playing well, there aren't many minutes as a backup shooting guard. That puts Fredette back at the point.

"I can transition to the two (guard) at times, and I've done that," Fredette said. "But I still see myself as a point guard. I still feel more comfortable there because I've been playing it my whole life."

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