Wait, Yi Jianlian Is Actually Impressing People?

August 30, 2010 – 10:09 pm by Ryan Phillips

Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either, but the No. 6 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft may have actually improved. Despite the fact that he’s been the most disappointing Chinese import since those toys with lead in them, and he’s already been traded twice in three years, Jianlian has apparently looked fantastic at the 2010 FIBA World Championships.

Yi had 26 points and 14 rebounds against Greece on Saturday and added 26 more points and nine rebounds against the Ivory Coast on Sunday. Now, I know those aren’t exactly two world powers, but the fact that he’s actually putting the ball in the basket is a stark improvement over the past few years.

Apparently Yi is showing much more aggressiveness on offense. That’s a good thing for a 7-footer with good range and ball-handling skills. How he hasn’t been aggressive before is shocking to me.

Thus far in his career, Yi has averaged just 9.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. That’s awful considering his size and skill-set. During his NBA tenure he’s shot just 40.2 percent from the field and 34.2 percent from beyond the arc. This past season his points per game jumped from 8.6 to 12.0, and his rebounds went from 5.3 to 7.1. But the fact that after those improvements the New Jersey Nets traded him to the Washington Wizards for a random backup like Quinton Ross speaks volumes about how the Nets felt about the 22-year-old Yi’s future.

That said, with guys like John Wall, JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche on the roster with him on the Washington Wizards, Yi might have a chance to do some things offensively. Then again, if his career to this point is any indication, we may just be getting set up to be disappointed by Yi.

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