SACRAMENTO, Calif. —Jimmer Fredette shook fellow rookie Isaiah Thomas with a crossover dribble, spun back to his left and put up a pump fake that sent the defender tumbling to the ground. Fredette looked down at Thomas and swished a shot from above the free throw line that drew cheers from teammates.
Maybe the first time an NBA player got Jimmered.
Probably not the last.
The Sacramento Kings opened training camp Saturday with the former BYU sensation as the star attraction, injecting some life into a franchise that seemed destined to move south to Anaheim last summer and desperately needs to build momentum for a new arena by March to avoid relocation. While Fredette still has to improve defensively, he's expected to team with Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton this season to form a powerful backcourt rotation.
"I definitely respect these guys as basketball players and as people," Fredette said. "And if you show them that respect, they'll respect you right back. That's what it's all about. So I'm continuing to gain that respect hopefully and just try to make the right decisions and be a good person."
Fredette's first day also had its share of bumps.
The point guard often looked lost defensively, missed shots and also piled up a few turnovers. Evans, the 2009-10 rookie of the year, blew past him on several occasions for easy buckets and his size and strength gave Fredette fits on the glass.
Treating him no differently than any other rookie, Kings players also tagged Fredette with several chores, including handing out bottles of water and Gatorade while they finished stretching. He was the only rookie to clean the floor.
"I have to pick it up or it's $100 a bottle," Fredette said, chuckling. "Not taking any chances."
Though the Kings believe the 6-foot-2 Fredette will work well in a backcourt with Evans and Thornton, the rotation is still unclear. The 6-foot-6 Evans has the ability to match up with bigger guards defensively, easing the load on Fredette, but Thornton's scoring ability might trump them all.
Fredette transition to the pros offers a scintillating subplot this season for a franchise that has so often been in national news for other reasons.
The Kings came oh-so close to moving the franchise to Anaheim this summer. Instead, the NBA and Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof decided to give Sacramento until March to approve a plan to help finance a new arena — or else.
While that distraction will loom large this season, so will Fredette's first go-around.
Fredette won The Associated Press' player of the year award after leading the nation in scoring at 28.5 points per game and guiding BYU to one of its best seasons. Big performances in big games had NBA stars tweeting his name, President Obama mentioning him while filling out his bracket and BYU faithful in a frenzy that reached beyond the quiet Provo, Utah, campus.
Already, Sacramento has embraced Jimmermania.
Hundreds of fans also greeted Fredette's arrival at the airport over the summer after the Kings acquired him in a draft-day trade with Milwaukee as the No. 10 overall pick. A few thousand showed for a pep rally soon after and a half-dozen or so television cameramen — large for a practice at the small-market Kings facility — all scurried for a close-up on Fredette when the doors opened for practice.
"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."