Jimmer Fredette was the International MVP of the Chinese Basketball Association this season while averaging 37.5 points per game for the Shanghai Sharks. After his turn as a big-time scorer overseas, Fredette has reportedly engaged NBA teams about a second chance in the league. If he returns to the U.S. expect an avalanche of bad takes about his ability and the impact he could have.
Fredette was a great college player. A prolific scorer for BYU, he was the National Player of the Year in 2011 and wound up being selected with the 10th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. He then went on to do precisely nothing in the league. Still, for some reason a legion of people believe he could be great if just given a chance.
“Jimmer Truthers” are basically the same as “Tebow Truthers.” They simply can’t see the obvious flaws in Fredette’s game and point to one advanced stat or another to support their case. Here are the facts: Fredette played for four NBA teams over five seasons. He played in 235 games, started just seven times, averaged 13.4 minutes per game and averaged just 6.0 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists in those games. He also hit just 38.1 percent of his 3-point shots. For a guy who can’t create his own shot or play defense, Fredette should have been able to rely on his shooting prowess to elevate his game. He couldn’t.
For those who are just itching to say “well he won the CBA International MVP, so he’s clearly gotten better” I think I need to point out the four previous winners of that award. A 36-year-old Stephon Marbury won it in 2013, Lester Hudson won it back-to-back in 2014 and 2015, and Michael Beasley won it in 2016. So it’s not the most prestigious award in sports.
Despite his big year in China, Fredette is what he’s always been: a deep bench player in the NBA. The 28-year-old can surely score in bunches against lesser competition, but in the big leagues he’s an undersized shooting guard who can’t get his own shot or play defense. That hasn’t changed with one year in Shanghai.