OAKLAND -- Jimmer Fredette sat still as media assembled around him, and he looked beaten, battered and soon-to-be bruised. The former Kings first-round draft pick and BYU supernova had blood-stained shorts, abrasions on his hands and a well-saturated bandage above his right eye after Friday's pre-NBA summer league workout.
“It’s just a battle wound,” Fredette said at the Warriors' training facility. “This was our second summer league practice, and I got hit with a hand. I got cut open a little bit. It’s nothing serious, but it looks cool.”
Maybe it’ll leave a scar. Who knows? Fredette wasn’t sweating it. The NBA already has dished out far worse.
Only the fittest survive this cruel, unrelenting league, and Fredette failed to find footing in Sacramento, Chicago, New Orleans or New York. He absorbed one blow to the ego after another, but he never bowed. Fredette found star power, good money and endorsements over three seasons with the Chinese Basketball Association’s Shanghai Sharks, but he gave it up for a chance to play near his wife and young children the United States.
And, of course, to go another round with the NBA.
“I wanted to give this another chance,” Fredette said. “I believe I’m an NBA player, and I believe I can do great things in this league and help a team in some way. I want to give that one more opportunity, and be with my family and live here. We’ll see what happens.”
That leads us to this opportunity with Golden State. The Phoenix Suns declined Fredette’s option after a late-season cameo, and he quickly pivoted to a Warriors team that desperately needs reliable scoring after injuries decimated their offense outside Steph Curry.
Despite those scientific facts, the Warriors guaranteed Fredette nothing but a shot. It starts with the California Classic Summer League in Sacramento next week and the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas after that.
“I’m trying to make a team,” Fredette said. “I would love to make the Golden State Warriors and help their team as a player and a person, but there’s a lot of people watching summer league. It’s a good opportunity to play, and I’m grateful to the Warriors for giving me that chance.”
It’s a chance to change his NBA reputation during a time when Fredette believes he’s capable of playing great basketball.
Many don’t believe that’s the case, and they’re quick to identify deficiencies. Here are a few from a long list: He’s a limited defender who's often targeted by the opposition. He only can defend certain positions, and can’t switch. He can’t get his shot off, or create good shots without the ball.
“I’ve heard it all, but I keep pushing, keep playing my game and keep getting better,” Fredette said. “I feel like I’m as good as I’ve ever been in my career. I hope to show it here.”
Fredette worked hard to fix those issues in China, and he believes he’s better prepared for this return home to the world’s best league. He sees the Warriors as -- pardon the pun -- a golden opportunity to get back into an NBA rotation.
“They play my style of basketball, going up and down and sharing the ball,” Fredette said. “They shoot a lot of 3s and do things in transition. That fits my game and how I’ve played my whole career. That’s how I’ve made my living.
"I feel like I can do well in that system, and that’s why I wanted to come here and give it a try.”
The 30-year-old hopes this comeback attempt works out, allowing shots at relative redemption after struggling to establish himself here.
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“It has been a journey. There have been a lot of ups and downs throughout my career,” Fredette said. “You have to continue to push forward.
"I’ve had a lot of cool places to play basketball and make great money and play the game that I love. It has been a true blessing, and I’m continuing my journey right now, trying to push forward, see what happens and make the best of the situation I have.”