Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 2/8/12
MINNEAPOLIS -- It shouldn't have been him. He shouldn't have been the one sinking 3-point shots, scoring off steals and tallying 13 points in the fourth quarter. Jimmer Fredette was not supposed to be the player responsible for the Kings' comeback. Ask anyone. He had been on the bench for two recent games. He's not athletic. He's not fast. His game doesn't translate to the NBA. He's a bust. But Fredette is 22 years old. He's played exactly 509 minutes in the NBA. He's most likely practiced with his team fewer than 50 times. It seems a bit early to be making those pronunciations about the No. 10 pick in 2011's NBA draft, the winner of every National Player of the Year award in the 2010-11 college season, the reigning top scorer in NCAA men's basketball. That list of accolades goes on and on. For Fredette, the NBA has been a harsh reality, a far cry from the screaming fans at BYU's Marriott Center and the "Jimmer-mania" that defined college basketball just a year ago. But on Tuesday night in Minneapolis, things looked a little different for the rookie point guard. Not only was he the catalyst behind the Kings' comeback albeit a failed one but he also took the court against Derrick Williams, the second overall pick last summer, a player with a bright NBA future. And here's the thing: For all those supposedly damning flaws, Fredette outplayed Williams. In fact, Fredette has averaged 22.1 minutes and 8.7 points per game this season to Williams' 18.3 and 7.6. Yet no one is accusing Williams of ineptitude, of a lack of athleticism. That's partially because Williams looks the part from a distance, it's impossible to see his braces and bashful smile while Fredette appears diminutive, his skinny legs and pulled-up socks screaming, "I don't belong here." But it's also because Williams' career has to this point followed a more traditional arc. The worst Williams has faced are accusations that he might not be making the most of his opportunities or capitalizing on his minutes. But he gets to use the excuses that Fredette is denied: he's a rookie, he's learning two positions. Give him time. Williams, who faced Fredette and BYU during his time at the University of Arizona, said that he thinks Fredette's game will translate to the NBA over time. He compared Fredette to J.J. Reddick, who's found more success than his critics ever predicted playing in Orlando. "That's to be kind of tough," Williams said of the criticism Fredette is facing. "I think for a lot of rookies, you don't really get different opportunities, especially with the rookie transition. We got a week of training camp. With Jimmer and I'm not just saying Jimmer, because I needed it, it really did hurt. I think a lot of people are being too critical." But Williams didn't arrive in Minnesota having been the biggest celebrity in college basketball for the past year. He was popular, sure, but a casual NBA fan might still have known little about the forward when he donned his Timberwolves hat on draft night in New York. "In college, I had a pretty big fan base," Williams said. "But I don't think that anybody in the nation had a fan base like Jimmer. His college stadium every game, it was packed. People just wanted to see him play." Sacramento coach Keith Smart agreed that the precedent Fredette set in college has hurt him in the NBA, through no fault of his own. Fredette arrived in Sacramento with many expectations attached to his name, but in the end, he's still a rookie who suffered from an abbreviated training camp. The core of his game is his shooting ability, and in college he was able to take as many as 30 shots per game. He could miss 10 and still end the night with 40 points. That's a luxury few NBA players and even fewer rookies will ever have. "Jimmer's going to be fine," Smart said. "He's going to be OK in the NBA." Fredette will be fine, as will Williams. Right now, Williams is nothing more than a wild-card type of player, Smart said, whose game has yet to come to fruition. But he's allowed to struggle, to negotiate his role on the Timberwolves. He's just another highly touted rookie, and he was never a cultural phenomenon like Fredette. Minnesota coach Rick Adelman pointed out that Williams is hardly the first No. 2 pick to enter the NBA without earning playing time right away, and he certainly won't be the last. But there aren't fans in every road stadium wearing Williams' jersey and chanting his name. There aren't piles of magazines from last spring collecting dust in doctors' offices and on coffee tables with Williams' picture on the cover. So though he was a higher overall pick, the expectations aren't as pressing. The bar hasn't been set for Williams as it has for Fredette, and right now, that's a good thing for the Timberwolves' rookie. Right now, at least. Fredette proved on Tuesday night that his situation can fuel him. He was benched in two full games last week, the first time that had happened to him since high school, and it hurt. But instead of wallowing, he read the Timberwolves defense and took advantage of it, and though his comeback wasn't enough for the win, it was enough to remind the crowd that Jimmer Fredette isn't a bust. At least not yet. Follow Joan Niesen on Twitter.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Giants’ Victor Cruz cleared to practice

PETA sends Warren Sapp vegan lobster following shark bite

Report: Josh McCown has looked better at times than RG3

Mike Trout does David Ortiz impersonation

Suspended Steelers WR Martavis Bryant set to help coach HS football

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Tickets for ‘Monday Night Football’ game in Mexico sell out

Kevin Durant says he never told Russell Westbrook he was staying in OKC

God Shammgod hired by Mavericks as player development assistant

Soccer player terminates contract after being attacked by stray dogs

Todd Bowles confirms Ryan Fitzpatrick is Jets starting QB: ‘It’s his job’

Carmelo Anthony shocked Dwyane Wade left Miami for Chicago

Giants acquire All-Star Eduardo Nunez from the Twins

Vikings QB injured trying to kick open door

Josh Gordon thankful for support from Browns

Report: Seahawks DE Chris Clemons retiring

Denard Robinson blames falling asleep at stoplight for pond crash

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Hue Jackson: Browns will give Josh Gordon a fresh start

Diamondbacks nearing Daniel Hudson trade

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

What would George Costanza have traded to get Bonds and Griffey?

Gabby Douglas can make USA Gymnastics history at Olympics

Week 3 will determine the Big Ten's reputation this season

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker