Jimmer Fredette cleared waivers this weekend and was signed by the Chicago Bulls for the rest of the season. He even got to get into the scrimmage game against the Knicks Sunday. He went 1-2 from the field scoring two points. Based on the reaction from the crowd, he is already a crowd favorite. When I saw the Bulls bench, you could see that they were happy for him and was rooting for him. But watching him play begs this question? How do you go from a scoring machine in college, to being a lottery pick, to selling out your jersey in Sacramento to being a third string point guard on a bad team? Now Pippen Peoples understand that Kevin Durant once called this guy “the best scorer in the world”. Yeah that Kevin Durant, plays for the Thunder, tall guy, scores a lot, that guy. Villanova’s Jay Wright compared his aggressiveness on the court to Pistol Pete Maravich. These are some powerful statements. Now a few years later, Fredette is the 13th guy on the bench? What gives?
Now I will preface my analysis with the fact that when Jimmer Fredette was drafted by the Sacramento Kings, the franchise was in the middle of extreme chaos. The owners, the Maloof brothers was trying to sell the club. The Kings franchise as a whole was trying to move the club out of Sacramento much to the dismay of the mayor Kevin Johnson, a former Phoenix Suns point guard. Geoff Petrie was well past his time in running the club. Coach Keith Smart never took to Fredette (who has the time dealing with Demarcus Cousins and his issues?) and had him out of the rotation pretty much by the end of his second year.
Fast forward to this year. The Kings were not going to offer him a deal after his rookie contract was over. What that tells me is that basically this team thinks Fredette stinks. They believe that he has no potential to put any investment in him whatsoever. On top of that they put a second rounder in Isaiah Thomas to start at point guard while they put Fredette on the shelf. Let’s not get it twisted. When the Bulls played Sacramento on the west coast trip, Fredette played for two reasons. One, it was a blowout, two he was being showcased for a possible trade. When they couldn’t find a team to do a deal, they waived him. The NBA is all about confidence, how much does Jimmer Fredette have left after 3 rough years in Sacramento?
I liken this guy to two players, J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison. Remember these guys in college? Both were scoring machines. J.J. Redick was the single most hated guy in college basketball with the biggest target on his back playing for Duke. Adam Morrison was pouring points in at Gonzaga. They both were first rounders and they both got to the pros and STRUGGLED! Adam Morrison went to the Charlotte Bobcats (you thought Fredette had it rough with the Kings, that was nothing compared to this franchise) and J.J. Redick went to the Orlando Magic. Both fell out of their respective rotations. Redick went from all world in college where he won player of the year to not being able to get his shot off in the NBA. Morrison had a bad knee injury and Larry Brown as a coach when he recovered. Both players went in separate directions. Adam Morrison lost his confidence in Charlotte and caught on with the Los Angeles Lakers until his rookie contract ran out and now he is out of the league. The saddest thing was when he was on the Lakers championship squad and was a guest on the Jimmy Kimmel show. Kimmel was clowning Morrison on all the suits he was wearing while cheering on the bench. Even Kobe had to say something nice just to stick up for Morrison. J.J. Redick however worked on his game and got better in other aspects to prove that he wasn’t just a shooter. He worked on entry passes and his defense which helped him earn his way not only into the Magic rotation but a contract. We all remember the Bulls offered Redick a qualifying offer a few years back. Orlando matched it and he stayed in Orlando a couple of years before he was traded. Now he’s in L.A. with the Clippers. He was the starting shooting guard until a back injury sidelined him.
People have raved about Fredette’s work ethic and shooting abilities throughout his life. It’s not like the man doesn’t have heart. The guy played with inmates from the Mount McGregor Correctional Facility. That’s PRISON folks. After watching the movie Scared Straight back in 1977, you couldn’t pay me to play inside a prison. So I know this dude is tough. This is a humbling time for Fredette, there’s no denying that. Can he do the same thing that DJ Augustin has done this year? Can he regain his form and swagger that made him the player that was coveted out of BYU? Or will he continue the downward slide out of the NBA to play overseas? Only time will tell. Hopefully for the Bulls, he figures it out before the playoffs.