Photo by Ron Nabity
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com Nov. 8, 2012
Second-year guard Jimmer Fredette is making the most of the limited playing time that remains ambiguous he’s getting due to a deep Sacramento Kings bench.
Fredette has seen his minutes cut down with the acquisition of point guard Aaron Brooks, who is now backing up Isaiah Thomas, a position Fredette assisted with last season. Fredette has appeared in three of the Kings five games, averaging just 8.3 minutes per game after averaging 18.6 minutes per game last season.
Head coach Keith Smart understands the challenge ahead of him in trying to keep the guys pleased with their playing time.
“It’s going to be a hard group to make sure everyone gets an equal time, and it’s not going to happen,” Smart said. “We’ve got too many good players that want to play. Some guys will play some nights, some guys don’t. The bottom line is we’re all in it together for one thing and that’s for our basketball team, the Sacramento Kings.”
Fan-favorite Fredette came in against Detroit to a loud ovation on Wednesday night and finished with 12 points in 15 minutes in the Kings 105-103 win over the Pistons. With the coach emphasizing being prepared at all times, Fredette has taken advantage of his appointed minutes by averaging 7.7 points in his 8.3 minutes per game this season thus far.
Fredette attributes his improved play and raised comfort level on the court this season to a productive offseason.
“I’m a lot more comfortable. I had a really good offseason: worked very hard, did some great things, just worked on my game and didn’t worry about anything else besides just trying to get better,” Fredette said. “I think I feel a lot more comfortable and it shows and I feel a lot better out there and I’m ready to continue to improve.”
The young guard didn’t enter the game Wednesday night until the second quarter and dropped five points on two jump shots in the first minute. Smart stuck with his second-year guard in crunch time in the fourth quarter as Fredette was able to take advantage of the minutes by hitting a big three-point field goal and two clutch free throws in the final 20 seconds to secure the Kings victory.
“You just have to be ready, you never know when you’re going to play and have that opportunity,” Fredette said. “But when you do have that opportunity you have to take advantage of it as much as you can. You can’t go out there and play lackadaisical and not be ready to play or else you’re not going to get back on the floor. You’ve got to be ready to play and earn your minutes, hopefully i’ve been doing that.”
Fredette has improved his shooting average this season as he is shooting 57 percent from the field this season as opposed to just 38.6 percent last season. While he has been more selective in his shot choices, he has also been able to knock down the open shot - an ability that the Kings could use as they’re shooting just 41 percent from the field.
Guard Tyreke Evans has been pleased with the energy that Fredette, in addition to Brooks, has provided the team.
“Jimmer and Aaron Brooks came in and did a great job off the bench and I think that’s what has been the spark for us so far,” Evans said.
Smart knows that energy guys with a strong work ethic like Fredette are what help build a team.
“The guy stays ready all the time,” Smart stated about Fredette. “He plays a game; he doesn’t play a game. I’m trying to find the right situation for him to get in the game. I thought he kept his mind right, he was at practice early working out prior to practice. He stayed with the right spirit on the floor and was able to make some big plays for us. That’s the kind of guys you got to have as your team is growing.”
Photo by Ron Nabity Photography
Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on Nov. 6, 2012
Fans of the Sacramento Kings remained loyal to their team and sold out the “blackout” home opener victory Monday night despite the growing uncertainty that has surrounded the franchise in recent years.
The energetic home crowd helped the Kings defeat the Golden State Warriors 94-92 in the final seconds for their first victory of the season after going 0-3 on their season-opening road trip.
Optimism still remains amongst the team and its fans even after their rough beginning to the season.
“I would like to see them make the playoffs, it would be a long shot but I would like to see them be close to .500, I’d be happy with that,” said Rob Horton, a Kings fan of 25 years. “That would at least be a progression in the right direction, you can’t build a team overnight. They’ve got some studs on this team. DeMarcus Cousins is a superstar in the making.”
Since the arena deal between the Kings and the city of Sacramento fell through this summer, there has been much speculation about where the team will be located next. Among the possibilities that have been raised: moving to Anaheim next season, heading to Virginia Beach, and filling the void in Seattle left when the Seattle SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City to become the Thunder.
Many fans have grown frustrated with Kings ownership due to the lack of certainty over whether the team will remain in Sacramento, but so far, they have kept their frustration aimed at ownership.
“[We’re] not frustrated towards the team itself, but towards the owners, yeah,” said Vicki Burrell, whose family has been attending Kings games for the last 12 years from Applegate. “I guess we’re just not as confident or as sure that they really want to be here as much as we want them to be here.”
Even though the Maloofs have not announced anything concerning their intentions officially, many fans believe that this will be the team’s final season as the Sacramento Kings.
“Knowing that this is going to be the last year here, I’m not a fool, I’m not an idiot,” Horton said. “This arena is so old. I know they’re going to leave, this arena is too old. They had a downtown arena where they didn’t have to pay jack and they said it was a bad deal, that’s because they didn’t have any money.”
Kings fans made it evident that even if the Maloofs’ decisions have influenced their feelings towards the team, they will not give up on their team as they packed Sleep Train Arena with 17,317 fans.
“It does change my feelings but I’ve been a die-hard Kings fan since ’85 so I’m going to stick with them until the end,” said Jaime Juarez, a 36-year-old fan from Sacramento.
Fans attending the game were energetic as they showed up in forces to support their team. The Kings organization put on a special introduction in honor of the blackout during which the lights were turned off and fans stood on their feet, waving around glow-in-the-dark thunder sticks, and cheering as the team was introduced.
Throughout the game, fans filled the Sleep Train Arena with noise reminiscent of the “Arco Thunder” that was prevalent in the early 2000’s, when the arena was named Arco Arena.
Whether it was a made basket, a blown call from the refs, a big dunk, or a turnover from the Warriors, fans made their thoughts known with their voices. They even got a chance to let their wants known when, for the fourth time, a tarp fell from the scoreboard onto the court, stopping play. Fans began chanting “New Arena” as the ref dragged the tarp off the court.
The Warriors orchestrated a late-game comeback that got the Golden State fans into the game, but their efforts were quickly drowned out by the emphatic Kings fans who countered with a “Sac-ra-men-to” chant.
Though fans say they will continue to support the team while they remain in Sacramento, many are hesitant to support the same Kings team should they relocate to another city.
“I don’t like what the ownership has done but I do want to support the team,” said Dennis Johnson, a fan since 1986 and season ticket holder for 22 years. “When the Monarchs relocated, I didn’t follow them anymore and they all split up, so I doubt that I would follow them that much.”
While it remains to be seen how long it will last, the Kings players appreciate the continued support with the uncertainty that has gone on.
“To be honest with you, 0-3, I was surprised to see everybody there,” said backup Kings point guard Aaron Brooks. “We’ve been going through a lot the last couple years, and to see everybody still sticking with us even though we were 0-3 coming back home, it was cool.”
Photography by Ron Nabity Photography