OPEN THREAD: China vs USA- It's Yi Time!

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:

CHN_02_Jianlian_o.jpg
How does Yi's shooting form look?

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.

CHN_04_Jianlian_o.jpg
Does Yi shy away from contact?

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:

 

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.

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