Tonight the US of A squares off against China in an exhibition game as part of the 2006 FIBA Championship.
TV: 6:30pm PST on ESPN2
The US squad is coming off a serious stomping of Puerto Rico (which by the way is still a colony of the United States- straight SHADY). I bet Carlos Arroyo didn't do much jersey-popping in that game. Everyone knows about Yao on the Chinese squad, but Warriors Nation along with many NBA scouts will be closely following the other Chinese 7-footer in this game. No, not Wang Zhizhi. We'll all be watching Yi Jianlian who is projected to be a lottery pick in the much hyped and anticipated 2007 NBA Draft.
Yi is a project, so it's unfair to expect him to play that well against the all-world talents that are on team USA. Still, there's two key things to look for in tonight's game from Yi:
Big men who come into the league with good shooting mechanics can help their squads out fairly soon. Take for example Yao Ming. From day 1 Yao had fairly fluid (if not ridiculously S-L-O-W) shooting form and good hands. He produced 13.5ppg in his inaugural season and is now up to a pretty sweet 22.3 points a game (check his rapidly improving numbers). Contrast that to rawer-than-sushi Andris Biedrins. The One Minute Man is largely ineffective on offense and has never averaged 4 points a game (check his numbers at your own discretion). The Warriors don't run any plays for Biedrins because his range doesn't extend beyond 3 feet and he's a serious liability at the charity stripe (an embarassing 31% FT's last season). All Biedrins can really do is catch and dunk. If Yi has the form, he'll have a head start as a project big man in the NBA.
Once a softie always a softie. Have you ever seen a big man who came into the league as a softie and transformed himself into a cock-diesel, intimidating machine? Doesn't happen. If Yi has that nasty under-the-rim attitude, he'll be a real asset. (You can tell I'm that bitter, short guard on the playground who gets annoyed by "big" men who are softer than players a foot shorter than them!)
For more on Yi Jianlian:
- 2007 NBA Draft: We want Yi Jian Lian!
- The Yi Movement Continues...
- Yi's Got Yao Ming and the Ladies Running!
- Yi Dropping Double Doubles
- Spanish Fly vs Yi Fly
Prediction #1: USA by 20 points
Prediction #2: Yi gets thunderous 2 dunks a la Yi Fly
Also, there's a huge Chinese population in the Bay and Yao's obviously a local favorite. How many of you are rooting for China to pull off the shocking upset?
Make sure to stay tuned to Golden State of Mind for a recap of tonight's game.
Just like we do in the regular season for Warrior games: Make sure to drop your vote for who you think will win in the Comments. If you're watching or listening near a computer, post any comments you have during the game right here.