The Kings opened their shortened training camp this past Saturday with former BYU sensation and first-round draft pick Jimmer Fredette as the star attraction.
Fredette joins a backcourt with tremendous scoring potential as former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans and volume scorer Marcus Thornton are preparing to do damage in their first full season together.
Just this offseason, Sacramento was in jeopardy of losing the team when owners Joe and Gavin Maloof threatened to relocate to Anaheim. Instead, the city rallied around the slogan "Here We Build," raising over 800K towards a new arena and delaying the process until at least March. At the same time, the team brought in through the draft the cult-phenomenon college player from BYU.
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Hundreds of fans greeted Fredette's arrival at the airport over the summer after the Kings acquired him in a draft-day trade with the Bucks. Thousands flocked to a pep rally soon after, including an abnormally large number of television cameras, which doesn't faze Jimmer.
"I got more used to it toward the middle to the end of the season. There were a lot more people wanting interviews, it felt like more of an NBA atmosphere with all the media attention I was getting," Fredette said. "I think that will help with the transition to the NBA. Now I just need to transition playing wise."
TV cameras and fans aren't the only ones the No. 10 overall pick is popular with. Second-year big man DeMarcus Cousins said, "Jimmer's my dude. I'm trying to get Jimmer to move in with me."
And head coach Paul Westphal's praise might not be as glorious, but the third-year coach seems to think Fredette will factor into the offense right away. "I think Jimmer's presence, along with John Salmons and Marcus Thornton, all those guys can handle, shoot and pass," Westphal said. "And the more players we have like that, the better it is for Tyreke and for all of our players."
"I have big expectations for myself," Fredette told Jim Kozimor on Kings media day. "It seems like they want me to score the basketball." This statement came minutes after newly-acquired Chuck Hayes told Kozimor he just needs to "do exactly what he did in college -- shoot the ball."
After finishing dead last in the Pacific Division with a record of 24-58, owner Joe Maloof said he is "sure the team will be a lot better than they were last year." Having Jimmer in the fold figures to be a part of that confidence.
Jimmermania begins Saturday when Fredette takes the floor in his first-ever NBA game, an exhibition with the cross-town-rival Golden State Warriors.
Nate Stuhlbarg is a web producer at CSNBayArea.com. Follow him on Twitter @StuhlbargCSN.