Fans in China have nicknamed Jimmer Fredette “Jimo.” The sobriquet isn’t a play on Fredette’s name but an honorary title that translates to “loneliness master.” For most of the season it could have been said that Fredette’s scoring mastery for the Yao Ming-owned Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association left him without an equal – thus he spent the season as a master of loneliness.
Over the weekend, Jimo continued his command of the CBA, dropping 73 points in the final regular season game of the year (though, at season’s end Fredette at 36.3 ppg, is a little less lonely as both Errick Mccolum and Marshon Brooks surpassed him in scoring).
In the 135-132 double overtime loss to the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions, Fredette shot 25-of-49 from the floor and converted all 13 of his free throw attempts.
Fredette became the sixth player in CBA history to score 70 or more points in a game (every player to crack the magic 7-0 has been an import, or non-Chinese born player). His 73 put’s him behind only Mccolum (82), Quincy Douby (75) and Bobby Brown (74), and ahead of Jordan Crawford (72) and Andre Emmett (71).
I like Jimo a lot – he was kind enough to give PopGates an interview at 2016 Las Vegas Summer League – but we need to throw some cold water on this scalding soup: the defense and officiating in the CBA is on par with an NBA All-Star game. The domestic players in the league are well below the level of the EuroLeague, Eurocup, Champions League, as well as every low-to-mid level domestic league (not to mention the likes of Israel, Lithuania, Italy, Spain, France, Turkey, and Hungary, just to name just a few).
In the CBA imports are paid big money for short contracts, and outlandish expectations of greatness are levied upon them in turn.
“They can depend on you for the majority, or all the scoring,” Will Bynum, an NBA and CBA veteran told PopGates recently. “If you are on a bad team, chances are you are going to be doing the majority of the shooting, or they are going to expect you to carry the load.”
To possibly give some insight into the mind of an import, score first guard in China, I recently asked Jordan Crawford about his 72-point game:
“What made me go [to China], was, they had offered a lot of money over a short period of time. But also, they put the ball in your hand. At that point in time, I really wanted to see how good I was as a player. I set myself out to try to do something remarkable. Once I started putting these forty plus games together, I wanted to see if I could average forty for a season. That really intrigued me, I wanted to see what I was capable of on the court.”
A year later, Crawford, a former NBA player who, like Fredette, put up insane scoring numbers, is in the D-League, barely closer to getting back to the NBA than he was a year ago – except now he’s making the laughable yearly salary of the NBA’s minor league.
That’s the point: it’s a cool footnote to Fredette’s legend that he dropped 73 in a far off land, but that’s about it. The NBA has him pegged as a guy who can’t defend, and like Crawford it’s hard to see him back in the show anytime soon.