Is Yi the Key?
Posted by r1zzo23 on June 24, 2007
The name of Yi Jianlian has been known for only a couple months now, but he may be a name Celtics fans better get to know very well as he could be the future of this franchise. Haven’t seen much of Yi, have you? Well neither have I, or many basketball fans and even NBA GMs for that matter. For those of you who haven’t seen any of him, check him out! Personally, I don’t put much stock into clips on Youtube because you only see highlights. For me, I want to see some “lowlights” too. Give me entire game film so I can see some defensive break downs, turnovers or bad shots that he forced up. Let me see the whole package before I totally jump on this kid’s bandwagon.
Now there is always intrigue over seven footers in the draft. Most of them are supposed to be project centers, but this kid is not a low-post presence. He is more in the mold of a Dirk Nowitzki, but seems to have much better handles and perhaps is a little more athletic. He seems to have good range on his jumper, but his 3-point range is questionable at this point.
Watching some clips of him on Youtube.com shows flashes of someone that can really get up and down the court and finish at the rim. He seems to attack the rim with authority, but will he be able to do that in the NBA? He has a turnaround jumper on the blocks that he goes to almost all the time. With his height advantage, it is virtually impossible to block.
There are some question marks about Yi going into the draft. Although he was perhaps the best player in China, seeing how his game translates to the NBA is going to be the biggest determinant on his career. Also, he has got to put more weight on (seems to be a recurring theme for most of the players in this draft). For someone that is a slasher, his ability to take contact at the rim is dismal. He tends to lose control over his body and the ball when facing some resistance from the defense.
Another factor weighing in many GMs’ minds is the fact that he will not work out against any other prospect in the draft. His workouts are private and usually consist of him going through drills against a trainer or, better yet, a chair. He is also one of the few players that are making GMs come to him as he is not visiting teams, forcing them to scout him in LA. This is exactly the opposite view that a player like Al Horford has, but maybe it’s Yi’s agent calling the shots and not Yi.
Boston is looking to become that Eastern Conference power that they used to be, and perhaps the answer comes from the Far East. If Yi is the Celtics choice at #5, then I would look for Paul Pierce to be moved for young players and Ainge to let this team gel with Gerald, Rondo and Al leading the way and hoping for Yi to become the Dirk-type player people believe him to be.