Yi Jianlian Takes Over ESPN.com

Head on over to the world wide leader's website right now [ESPN.com] and the man of The Movement is the cover story.

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Chad Ford also dropped a piece Can Yi Jianlian play? Good question that's definitely worth the price of a click. It's on a free ESPN Insider preview promo, so don't feel shy. Here's some samples:

Yi's physical gifts:

He's an exceptional shooter from midrange and he's beginning to develop range from the NBA 3-point line. He has a good handle and knows how to put the ball on the floor to get to the rim. He has excellent footwork in the paint and a strong work ethic.

In short, in two days of workouts, it was clear that his athleticism and skills are at the NBA level. From a pure talent standpoint, only Oden and Durant appear to have more upside.

According to Ford the biggest knocks on Yi are his age (19 or 22?), lack of toughness, and hoops IQ. As for the age question:

But do NBA teams care? I couldn't find a GM who thought, even if Yi is really 22, that it should affect his draft status.

"I don't see what the big deal is," Celtics vice president Danny Ainge told me. "In some ways, it helps him. It means he's more mature and more ready to handle the pressure of the NBA."

Ainge's opinion was echoed by almost everyone in the NBA that I spoke with.

On the Charmin' soft criticism:

Still, the "soft" critique remains, and Yi has been unable to eradicate it because he hasn't been working out against anyone. Put him in a workout with Noah or Horford and we might see something. Instead he's either worked out alone or, in the last few workouts, against unheralded college center Brian Cusworth.

With inconclusive evidence gathered in the workouts, teams have to go back to the tape. What they'll find is a player who's more comfortable playing on the perimeter.

Although Yi's team, the Guangdong Tigers, did ask him to play down low at times, it's clear that Yi doesn't like contact and would prefer to shoot jumpers. Yi also appears to be indifferent on the defensive end of the floor in game film -- another factor in the softness question.

Of course the same criticism has been leveled at NBA MVP Dirk Nowitzki for years.

As long as Nellie's coaching Yi and not coaching against him this doesn't really worry me.

Yi on the Warriors?

Ultimately, a team like the Warriors would make the most sense for Yi. They have a need for an offensive-minded 4, Nellie's style of play fits Yi, and he would be near one of the most robust Asian-American communities.

Whether the Warriors can make a deal to get high enough in the draft to take him remains a question mark.

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Yi's a World Wonder--

But will he be a Warrior Wonder next season?
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Do you believe the Yi hype?


The movement keeps moving forward:

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