Jimmer Fredette dropped 41 Friday night in The Basketball Tournament (the summer 5-on-5 tournament with a winner-take-all $2 million prize). Fredette was lighting it up in China last season as well, averaging 36.8 points per game for the Shanghai Sharks.
It leads to the question, would Fredette be open to an NBA comeback? After another season in China, he would consider it, he told Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated.
(The Basketball Tournament is) just always nice to play in front of American audiences again. You never know who is watching, but at this point I’m just trying to get better as a player and have fun doing it. I have one year left in China for my contract, but after that I’ll be a free agent and we’ll see what’s out there…
I’m definitely a better player than I was before coming over, that’s for sure. I’ve really grown as a player, becoming versatile, able to do multiple things offensively. I’ve gotten stronger and learned how to cut guys off, stay in front. I think I’ve matured mentally and physically as a basketball player and I’m better than I ever have been…
Things have changed a lot from when I entered the league with three-point shooting now at a real premium as well as guys who can really hit the deep threes and give their superstars space to operate. There’s a lot of transition, a lot of moving the ball, things I excel in, so I think the league has really changed to my favor since I got into the NBA.
Fredette spent five seasons in the NBA, got plenty of chances, but could never stick. On the court, the issue was always defense (where he was genuinely bad) and not a good playmaker at the NBA level. The other concern from teams was that he was not willing to accept a role — at BYU he was the guy with the ball in his hands making all the plays, he would never be that in the NBA but teams felt he didn’t adapt well to the change. In China, he has the ball in his hands again, and there is little defense played in that league.
Has Fredette evolved and the game changed enough that this time it could work? Maybe. I wouldn’t expect it, but maybe.
Is a team going to pay him to find out? Probably not. Fredette will turn 30 by next summer, and it’s unlikely an NBA team is going to choose to give him a roster slot over a young player they could develop — and ideally control the contract of for many years. Fredette’s window is closed.
But he is still getting paid well to play, and may even pick up a couple million dollars in this tournament.