With the NBA season quickly approaching, teams are trimming down their rosters to 15 players for opening night. In Los Angeles at Lakers camp there is a good old fashion roster battle for the final spot between Ron “Meta World Peace” Artest, Thomas Robinson, and the favorite, Chinese superstar Yi Jianlian.
You might remember Yi. He was the SIXTH overall pick in 2007 for the Milwaukee Bucks. He was supposed to be the Chinese Dirk. A seven-footer with good perimeter game, but could actually be a bit of a bruiser in the middle (unlike Dirk) and fight for tough rebounds. He was the guy in 2K that you always shot threes with because he was a big guy that could kind of shoot and for some reason had a rating that was light years higher than it should have been.
Unfortunately for Yi, his actual career was not like his 2K career. Yi ended up playing for four teams in five years averaging just under eight points a game and just under five rebounds a game. He was soft and eventually shipped back to China to play for his team Guangdong and be an important part of the Chinese national team.
Well this past summer, Yi was one of those international guys that kind of stood out and made people say “hey, this cat’s pretty good!” I’ll admit, even I was watching one game saying “sheesh, who’s this big Chinaman that’s dominating?” Then I saw that it was Yi Jianlian and remembered he sucked.
But Yi is back. Yi’s NBA comeback trail is nearly complete and the only question that remains (other than “can he make an NBA roster?”) is how amazing will Yi’s return be? I’d say, conservatively he’ll be a 20 and 12 guy. We’ve already seen that his game translates well to the NBA and now that he’s already had a taste of the action, I bet he’ll adjust to become an even more dominant force. On top of that, after his solid performance in the Olympics, his confidence is through the roof. Also the NBA moving towards a more finesse style of play fits exactly into Yi’s repertoire. I know the Lakers are sad Kobe is gone, but get ready for Yi-sanity.
And that makes you think, maybe the Lakers can make a run this year. With Timofey Mozgof down low with Yi, you have a new aged Twin Towers. I’m talking Duncan and Robinson 2.0. Add Swaggy P and Jose Calderon in the mix and maybe Meta World Peace as an assistant player/coach and the Lakers are all of the sudden in the talk of serious title contenders.
Throughout the season, I will keep you updated on Yi’s comeback and inevitable MVP run. Look out, KD, Steph and Klay, there’s a new Big Three in the west and it’s Swaggy P, Mozgof and Yi. With Yi on the floor, the Lakers won’t lose.