SACRAMENTO, CALIF. (AP) - The Sacramento Kings found a shooter they hope they can eventually pair in the backcourt with Tyreke Evans and a high-profile player to help in marketing when they ended up with high-scoring guard Jimmer Fredette after making a draft-day trade Thursday with Charlotte and Milwaukee.
“I think it’s important to get not only a high-quality player but a high-quality person,” said Geoff Petrie, Kings president of basketball operations. “That’s what we’re getting here. One thing we can count on is he will be the best player he can be. I think that can be very, very good.”
The Kings moved from seventh to 10th in the draft, while also acquiring swingman John Salmons from the Bucks and sending guard Beno Udrih to Charlotte. That created a need in Sacramento for a shooter in the backcourt who could also play some point guard, making Fredette an attractive option.
Fredette did not talk to the local media after the draft but said at the draft in Newark, N.J., that he thought Sacramento was a possibility as soon as he heard about the trade and is excited to play for an offensive team.
“The style of play that I like, up-tempo system, ball screens, I like to score the basketball,” he said. “So it plays right into my style of play. That’s how I’ve played my whole entire life at college and in high school. So this is no different.”
Fredette won nearly every player of the year award at BYU last season after leading the nation in scoring with 28.9 points per game, including the Naismith, Wooden, AP and the USBWA awards. With his seemingly unlimited shooting range and a long list of highlights, Fredette was one of the most popular players in college basketball.
That popularity could benefit the Kings, who nearly moved to Anaheim after this past season and are hoping to generate enough interest to build a new arena in Sacramento. The city must have a new arena plan by March 1 or the franchise will likely relocate.
“Jimmer is exactly what the Kings need right now,” said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA All-Star guard. “He’s electric, a fan favorite and a competitor. Together with Tyreke, they will create one of the most dynamic, young guard combos in the NBA. Congrats to the Kings on an exciting pick.”
Fredette topped 30 points in 16 of his 37 games at BYU last season, including three 40-point games and a career-high 52 in one game against New Mexico. He also averaged 4.3 assists per game and made 124 3-pointers in helping BYU reach the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament before falling to Florida.
There were questions heading into the draft about Fredette’s ability to defend quicker and bigger NBA guards, but he feels he answered some of those in his pre-draft workouts.
“I had a perception and it’s something that I had to go out and prove,” he said. “People had to see that in order to believe it, and you know, I thought I did a pretty good job of it in the workouts and that’s why I think I was able to be picked in the top 10.”
The Kings believe the 6-foot-2 Fredette will work well in a backcourt with Evans, who won the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 2009-10. The 6-6 Evans has the ability to match up with bigger guards defensively, easing the load on Fredette.
The Kings also have Marcus Thornton in what figures to be a three-guard rotation in the backcourt. Thornton averaged 21.3 points in 23 games for Sacramento after being acquired in a midseason trade with New Orleans.
While Evans’ strengths offensively are as a slasher who is able to score in the paint, Fredette gives the Kings one of the best outside shooters who should have room to operate in an offense that also includes last year’s first-round pick, center DeMarcus Cousins.
Fredette also gives the Kings another ballhandler and distributor to take pressure off Evans, who is not a natural point guard. Coach Paul Westphal said he expects Fredette to contribute immediately as a point guard.