After scoring his ass off for four years at BYU, Jimmer Fredette was selected with the 10th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft. At the time, the current best scorer in the world was calling him the the best scorer in the world. But across five seasons, four teams, and 235 NBA games, Fredette went 41 percent from the floor on 13 minutes a night, unable to adapt to a role player’s bit part. So in 2016 he embarked for the Chinese Basketball Association, where every team is permitted two foreign players.
Fredette signed with the Shanghai Sharks, and in a new land he became a scoring god all over again. He dropped 42 his first night out in 2016. In 2017, he lit up the Zhejiang Lions for 73 in a double-overtime loss. Over the 2018-19 season with the Sharks, Fredette averaged a cool 36.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.6 steals per game on Curry-esque 47/42/92 splits. In his last two seasons with his Sharks, he earned about $1.8 million a year. Fredette liked that the four-month season only kept him away from his family in Colorado for a small chunk of the year. He enjoyed all manner of glitzy endorsement deals with apps. He did not seem to enjoy much else.
Early in his CBA stint, Fredette heard the fans calling him Jimo Dashen. He wanted to know what it meant, and asked his translator. Per the Deseret News:
“It means lonely.”
Jimmer didn’t like that.
“No, no,” the translator explained. “Not lonely like that. It means lonely god, or lonely master. You’re so far ahead of everyone else in the league, you’re lonely. Like a god.”
Today the Athletic’s Shams Charania reports that the Lonely Master will return stateside. Fredette will abandon the path that ends in a statue and museum in favor of a team-friendly deal with the second-worst team in the NBA.
Look past the stats in China and it’s easy to see why Jimmer would give it all up. That Deseret News feature paints a bleak picture of Christmas alone with a Lego nativity scene, nights sleeping fully clothed on top of the covers in hotel rooms, aimless Netflix binges, and trying journeys through Chinese menus. “If the NBA calls, I’m ready to go back. And the thing is, I’ve regained my swagger here. I’ve proven I can play,” he told the reporter at the time. The Suns now have at least a few weeks to test how true that is, and the Sharks will surely still be there in 2020, circling.