SAN ANTONIO -- The gaping cut over Jimmer Fredette's right eye certainly didn't affect vision after Thursday's practice, as he stayed late for extra work, draining several 3-pointers in rapid succession.
Playing for his fourth team since being drafted No. 10 overall in 2011, Fredette may have finally found a home with the San Antonio Spurs, a team he says has finally given him the green light to do what he does best, and that's shoot the basketball. The Spurs could certainly use Fredette's skill set off the bench as they look to replace the production of key role players such as Marco Belinelli.
"He's a shooter," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Fredette. "He's a scorer, and we're looking for that type of thing to add to the team. Marco [Belinelli] not being here is important. He came off the bench and helped us in a lot of games, and I think that's a big concern."
In this Q&A with ESPN.com, Fredette discussed his up-and-down career, growth as a professional and the vote of confidence given by the coaching staff for him to shoot the ball when there are open opportunities:
How has your NBA journey been so far? It seems like you've had lots of ups and downs since coming into the league.
Fredette: Yeah, so far there's been some good things, some bad things. But I think I've progressed and learned how to be a pro. I think I've continually gotten better as a basketball player. You've just got to keep your confidence high. You can't let anything bad that happens get you down. You've just got to continue to stay strong, stay mentally tough and know that when you do get an opportunity, you have to be prepared for it. You never know when that can come.
Throughout your journey, there had to be times your confidence was shaken dramatically, right?
Fredette: Yeah, definitely. There are times when you're like, 'Dang, man, this is not the way that I pictured it as a kid or growing up.' But I think that's all a part of the growing process as a pro. It's not necessarily that you're not good enough to be out there, you know what I mean? Sometimes, there are other circumstances. So you've just got to stay mentally prepared, know that you can play, and when you get out there be able to compete.
How do you think you fit in with the Spurs?
Fredette: I think I fit in well with the team. This is a group of guys that knows how to win, obviously. They've won championships. They've done amazing things in their careers. I'm just fortunate enough to be able to be a part of this team, and hopefully be able to learn from these guys that are veterans that have been there and done that. Just look at their work ethic. And I think I fit in well with their system being able to shoot the basketball, try to make the right play and give up a good shot for a great shot. I think that's kind of the m.o.
You've got a pretty big cut there over the right eye. What happened? Any practice elbows?
Fredette: [Laughs] I just hit my head the other day. Nothing too bad. It wasn't a practice elbow.
What did coach Gregg Popovich tell you when he first brought you out here?
Fredette: He just told me that he wants me to be aggressive and that they brought me in here to space the floor to be able to shoot the basketball; to just kind of do what I do. But he said he was very happy to have me here. Obviously, I'm super excited to be here. I'm just going to do anything I can to help the team, whatever it takes.
What's it like for you to have that sort of vote of confidence to just shoot the ball out here in San Antonio?
Fredette: Coaches are telling me that every day. If I don't shoot it, they're coming up to me, especially coach [Becky] Hammon is always telling me: 'Shoot the basketball. Shoot it when you're open.' So it's great to have that confidence. I haven't had that necessarily all the time since I've been in the league. So it's great to be able to have the green light to be able to shoot it when you're open.
What did you do to prepare for this latest opportunity?
Fredette: I worked really hard this summer on my game. I think I worked harder than ever this summer to try to get my body in shape. To come into camp in the best shape I can, I changed all my eating habits and worked as hard as I could. Once I figured out I was going to be going to the Spurs, I tried to watch film on them, my trainers and I, and tried to emulate shots that I'd get in the game during my practice sessions. So I tried to come into camp knowing what I was gonna do.
You said you changed your diet. What was it before and what is it now?
Fredette: It wasn't all that bad. But obviously, I love treats. So I love my ice cream and all that stuff at night. So I tried to eliminate all of that, and tried to eat really healthy. I'm really into the super foods. So I try to eat a lot of super foods: kale, spinach, blueberries, oranges, salmon, turkey; that type of stuff, just really healthy stuff to see how it felt. I've trimmed up a little bit, and it gives you a little more energy. So it's felt great so far.
Why were you surprised the Spurs showed interest in you?
Fredette: Well, they just weren't on our radar of teams we were talking about. My agents and I, we had some teams that we were talking to. but the Spurs hadn't really come up in our conversations all that much. Then all of a sudden, they called me up and said that they were interested, and had an opportunity for me if we wanted it. I was like, 'Of course.' I mean, what a great organization. I was honored to be able to have that.
You seem pretty upbeat right now. What's going on?
Fredette: [Laughing] I'm very excited. It's a great organization, great team to be a part of. I'm just all about trying to work hard and going out and trying to win the basketball game. I know this organization is all about that, however it can get done. And here, you never know when you're going to get your opportunity, you know? I think at some point I will get an opportunity. So I have to go out there and be ready to go, be ready to play, and try to fit into the system, and do what I do out there. And I think they appreciate what I do. So I can play more freely, and be able to go out and try to shoot and score, be aggressive, but also help defensively and continue to work."