SACRAMENTO -- Luka-Mania rolled through Sacramento Thursday evening. The 20-year-old rookie has been the talk of the NBA this season, but he has no concept of what it’s like to be basketball’s Elvis Presley.
Jimmer Fredette does, and on Saturday evening, it’s Jimmer-time back in the Capital City when the guard drops by as a newly-signed member of the Phoenix Suns.
Luka has appeal, but what Jimmer faced was on a different level. When Fredette showed up for his pre-draft workout for the Kings, there was a woman hiding in the bushes with a sign ready to jump out to greet him.
During the 2011 NBA lockout, Fredette played in the American Century Golf Tournament in Lake Tahoe. Where the course meets the lake, a group of female fans carried signs that read, “Jimmer can we be your sister wives?”
Acquired by the Kings on a draft day deal with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2011, Fredette spent two and a half seasons in Sacramento trying to make things work. The Kings waived the former lottery pick in February of 2014, but that didn’t spell the end of his basketball career.
Following his stint in Sacramento, Fredette spent parts of the next two years fighting to stay in the league. He made stops in Chicago, New Orleans and with the New York Knicks before heading overseas following the 2015-16 season.
The NBA chewed up Fredette and spit him out. He walked into the league as an incredible college scorer. He walked out five years later a completely different person and player.
After three seasons playing in China, Jimmer is back in the NBA. He inked a two-year deal with the Phoenix Suns on Friday and will potentially suit up against the Kings Saturday at Golden 1 Center.
Fredette has taken the CBA by storm, averaging 36.8 points per game over the last three seasons. The 30-year-old guard posted 36 points, 5.3 assists, and 5.6 rebounds in 40.4 minutes per game this season in China. He shot an impressive 41.9 percent from long range, knocking down an incredible 223 3-pointers in just 45 games.
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There is no word on what the second year of Fredette’s contract might look like, but if he can play the way he did overseas, there might be a place in the league for him. He can shoot the lights out and has the ability to space the floor with his range from all over the court.
It hadn’t worked in the past, but there’s always a chance he finds a niche in the league. Whether he makes it or not, Fredette has always been a class act. He’ll likely receive an ovation from the Kings’ faithful if he gets a call from Suns coach Igor Kokoskov on Saturday evening.