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Yi Jianlian doin’ FIBA work without Yao; The next Brandon Jennings

By 08.13.09
Yi Jianlian

Yi Jianlian

Lately we’ve been calling for NBA TV to do us starving hoop fans a favor and put next month’s FIBA European Championships on the air, all while forgetting the FIBA Asia Cup is actually going on right now. Not as much star power, not as high quality ball, but we still wouldn’t mind seeing some of those games on the schedule to replace the endless ’80s re-run games … From the games yesterday — or next Tuesday or whatever it would be with the U.S./China time difference — Yi Jianlian was the star, putting up 29 points and 18 boards in China’s win over Jordan. Going into his third NBA season, Yi might be ready to become an impact player. The starting PF job in New Jersey is his to lose, and all reports this summer say he’s looking great in workouts and in the FIBA games … Remember Wang Zhi Zhi? He added 23 points and eight boards in that China/Jordan game. Wang is listed at 30 years old, but if you’ve seen him recently, he looks like he’s 50. He’s the Chinese Anthony Randolph … Some other notable ballplayers at the Asia Cup: Sun Yue (China), Hamed Haddadi (Iran; he posted 21 points, 16 boards and six blocks vs. Korea), D-League alum Rasheim Wright (Jordan), Ha Seung-Jin (Korea), Jackson Vroman (Lebanon), ex-Vanderbilt star Matt Freije (Lebanon), and Gabe Norwood (Philippines) from George Mason’s Final Four squad … In other overseas news, high school senior-to-be Jeremy Tyler inked a one-year, $150K deal with Maccabi Haifa in Israel. (He’s got two years before he can enter the NBA Draft.) In an interview a couple months ago, Tyler talked about why he’s leaving high school early to go the Brandon Jennings route. “I was the best player in San Diego this year and it was boring,” Tyler said. “Next year, it would be extremely boring. I’d go into the game with no enthusiasm.” Do you think Tyler is making the right move by skipping high school and college? … Ironically, as Tyler enters a situation where he could become a major bust or a big star, he’ll have some teammates that represent some of the spectrum of what his future could hold. Haifa’s roster includes Davon Jefferson, the kid who left USC with O.J. Mayo after his freshman year and didn’t get drafted; B.J. McKie, who was a beast at South Carolina for four years and still didn’t pan out in the NBA; and Tamir Goodman, the “Jewish Jordan” who had a ton of hype in high school and didn’t even make a splash in college … One significant move in the NBA yesterday, as the Hornets traded Rasual Butler to the Clippers for a second-round pick. Basically a salary dump for the Hornets, who otherwise could have used Butler’s abilities as a shooter since Peja Stojakovic‘s body is unreliable and Butler was penciled in as the starting two-guard. The Clips get another shooter, which they needed since Eric Gordon is the only other one on the roster … Four or five years ago, Steve Nash vs. Jason Kidd was the argument when it came to point guards. While they’ve been jumped by the likes of Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Tony Parker, and even Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose (depending on who you ask), Nash and Kidd are still elite. Which one do you think is better right now? Two or our writers argued their side, one for Nash and one for Kidd, and left it to the readers to decide … Comment of the day comes from reader Yoooo, responding to one of our writer’s claims that 2010 free agents would be drawn to the Wolves, who could have a bunch of cap space and a promising young roster (Al Jefferson, Kevin Love, Jonny Flynn, Ricky Rubio, etc.): “A no-brainer to live in Minnesota? Yea right buddy. Show me ANY superstar who wants to go there and I’ll show you Halle Berry‘s penis.” … And when did the Northwest Division become so intriguing? Going into next season, you’ve got Kevin Durant — and to a lesser extent, Russell Westbrook — poised to absolutely blow up; the Rubio/Flynn situation; the Carlos Boozer situation; the Nuggets trying to maintain top-level status in the West despite (arguably) getting worse in the offseason; the Blazers possibly taking the next step up to challenge the Nuggets with their offseason additions; and the continued development of Brandon Roy, Deron Williams, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. Who’s your pick to win the division? … Not gonna lie, when we saw the headline, “NBA Star Accused of Pizza Joint Beatdown,” we automatically assumed Eddy Curry had a withdrawal incident on his new diet. Nope. Turns out it was just Zach Randolph allegedly acting like Zach Randolph … We’re out like Wang Zhi Zhi …


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