AL HAMNIK: Jimmer gives Bulls an added glimmer of hope

2014-04-15T19:45:00Z 2014-04-16T14:25:05Z AL HAMNIK: Jimmer gives Bulls an added glimmer of hopeAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
April 15, 2014 7:45 pm  • 

CHICAGO | If they ever erected an NBA statue to Jimmer Fredette, he'd have pigeons on each shoulder.

It's been that kind of wait-and-see career for the third-year guard.

Jimmer was instant offense at BYU and handled the basketball more than its coaching staff while winning countless national awards.

He was taken by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 10th pick in the 2011 draft, then traded to Sacramento where he started only seven of 171 regular-season games and soon mastered the art of sitting.

What did you say your name was?

There is a happy ending, however. On March 2, the Bulls signed Fredette to bolster their bench and load up on 3-point shooting threats.

Monday night, while filling in for D.J. Augustin, Jimmer pumped in 17 points in 31 minutes as the Bulls vanquished Orlando, 108-95.

Has he found a home, finally? Coach Tom Thibodeau and Bulls fans certainly liked what they saw.

As Fredette met the media afterward, teammate Carlos Boozer passed by, shouting: "WHOA, JIMMER! NBA TV! COMCAST! BIG TIME!"

The kid smiled and good-naturedly waved Boozer off.

"You've just got to stay ready. The biggest thing is learning the plays and defensive terminology," Fredette said. "We go through those every day at practice and in shootarounds, as well as conditioning.

"That's what being a professional is and what I try to do."

Oh, Fredette can light up an arena real quick if all he does is shoot like they let him at BYU. But the Sacramento Kings tried to make him a point guard and he struggled distributing the ball.

At 6-2 and 195 pounds, he is not big or strong enough to defend NBA shooting guards. But neither could Kyle Korver nor Nate Robertson during their brief run in Chicago.

Fredette shot .493 from downtown with the Kings and Thibodeau sees him as an impact player off the bench when the Bulls can't buy a basket, which is often.

Monday night, he was 7 of 14 running the point.

"My 3 wasn't going down but I was able to get to the basket and hit mid-range jumpers," Fredette said.

"I thought the scoring was terrific," Thibodeau added. "The ball movement throughout was very good. For me, you judge the point guard by how the team functions, so I thought Jimmer did a great job with that.

"His ball pressure was very good, so that's encouraging."

Fans seem to love Fredette and teammates are happy to have him on their side. The rest is up to him when his number is called: Defend. Make shots.

"These guys have been great and have supported me through the whole experience," Fredette said. "It's awesome to be with this team and see their camaraderie and how they play the game of basketball."

Joakim Noah, his fanclub stretching world-wide, has no doubt Fredette could be a factor in the playoffs.

"He is a worker. He has not played a lot, but when he has, he's delivered," Noah said.

Fredette has this bench thing all figured out, so he won't rock the boat after a good outing or two.

"It's something I've done a lot of in my career so far," he said. "You have to continue to be prepared, be professional.

"Whatever my role is, I have to embrace."

Omigosh. Is that Thibodeau smiling?

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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