Bucks Diary

Friday, June 29, 2007

A Profile of Yi's Game


Like most Bucks fans, I'm struggling to get my mind around this Yi Jianlian pick. I've never seen him play and, until yesterday, basically had no interest in him. Thus, I'm trying to acquire an understanding of his game, and what made the Bucks value him so highly that they would pick him knowing the headache they will have trying to sign him.

In my quest, I have relied almost exclusively on one outstanding site -- draftexpress.com. Their scouting reports are superior to anything else I've found on the web. They provide not just empty platitudes about Yi, but actual hard information and statistics. They are extremely thorough in their work, and I can't recommend them highly enough.

I've taken their copious profile of Yi's game and condensed it into a list of positives and negatives that might help us understand what type of player he is. Let me make one comment before you digest this list. Prior to the draft, I saw Yi often compared to former Buck Toni Kukoc. If you look at the information provided below, however, that doesn't hold. Yi clearly lacks the basic ballhandling and playmaking skills that made Kukoc valuable. In fact, outside of their obvious physical similarities, they are totally different players.

With that said, here's my condensed profile:

Positives
Size: He’s 7 feet tall, has an impressive wingspan, and he weighs 250 pounds, all ideal attributes for an NBA power forward.
Consistent scoring: Though he has a limited offensive game, he has been able to produce points no matter what the competition.
Good spot-up shooting: Statistically, his best shot is the spot-up jump shot. He knocks that down at an over 50% average.
Hands: According to draftexpress.com, Yi has “great hands”. I’ve never been able to pin down what that means, but it probably means he can catch the ball when it is passed to him.
Finishing around the rim: He is very good at finishing in close (provided he is unfettered). Whenever he is near the hoop, he will look to dunk the ball.
Offense facing the basket: Yi is very comfortable facing the basket on offense. This, of course, can be a double-edged sword. Tall players who prefer to face the basket normally also shy away from the low post.
Athleticism: Yi is said to be a very fine all-around athlete; he can leap, and he has an outstanding first step that allows him to get by almost any comparably sized player.

Negatives
Pussified: Apparently he shies away from physical play, “crumbling” whenever there is contact. Thus, he doesn’t finish well after drawing contact, and he too often gets pushed around on the court.
Weak upper body: One of the reasons he gets pushed around is that he clearly lacks upper body strength.
No Range: Outside of 20 feet, Yi is a very poor shooter, converting under 20% of his international three point attempts.
Shoddy dribbling: I was under the misconception that Yi could handle. Apparently he cannot, rarely using more than one or two dribbles at any time.
Poor fundamentals: It sounds like Yi has been relying almost exclusively on his superior size and athleticism to dominate the Chinese league, and as a consequence his fundamental skills (boxing out, playing solid defense, timing his blocks, dribbling, passing) are all severely lacking.
Poor decision maker: Yi does not take care of the ball and is turnover prone. He makes poor decisions regarding when and where to pass the ball, and doesn’t react well to defensive pressure.
Limited offensive repetoire: At this stage in his career, he relies almost solely on a handful of rudimentary moves.
Defending the post: whenever Yi is asked to defend the post, especially when matched against a physical opponent, he is helpless. He is easily overwhelmed by contact, and indeed often shies away from it.
Rebounding technique and production: He doesn’t rebound very soundly, preferring to rely on his height rather than on technique.
Overall Effort: Yi’s effort level, on defense, on the boards, etc., is often inconsistent and generally lacking.

2 Comments:

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