Some players were just built to play college basketball. This isn’t something new. We all watched Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette play at BYU last year knowing that he was going to be a high draft pick but also that he wasn’t ready to play in the NBA. He was the national player of the year who thrived on his ability to create his own shots, hit jumpers over defenders and blow by some of the slower guards, but in the big leagues it’s never that easy.
The Jimmer recently did an interview with USA Today where he talked about the tough transition from college to the NBA.
“It’s just like the transition when you went from high school to college, when you’re the big fish and suddenly you’re not anymore,” said Fredette. “I had to bide my time. I was playing a lot. I wasn’t getting the shots I wanted to. So it’s similar to that transition. I’ve done it before. This time around it’s a little bit easier to not get frustrated, to be a part of the team and do whatever you can to prove yourself to the coaches to gain their trust.”
We saw this only a few years ago with Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick who was nearly unstoppable at Duke, but once he got to the NBA, struggled when it wasn’t as natural as he was used to. Lucky for Redick, he’s on a team with lots of other scorers, so he was able to settle into a smaller role that suited his abilities.
It may be a little tougher for Jimmer. He’s on a Kings team that’s sitting at 6-13 right now. The fans don’t want him to sit back and fit into a role-playing identity, they want him to help this team win, like he did at BYU, but he’s not ready for that. It also hurts him a little bit that he’s such a likeable guy. Jimmer is similar to Tim Tebow in that he’s such a great role model, people are rooting for him to succeed.
The transition isn’t going to get easier for Fredette, he’s really going to have to keep working hard and find a role that’s best for him and the Kings. He’s never going to be that go-to guy like he was in college, those days are behind him. He’s going to have to figure out how to survive in the big leagues.