Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Bucher, Dwyer on Yi

More talk about Yi's PT. Given I've posted articles from Chris Mannix, Tony Mejia, and Gary Howard about how much Yi is going to play (Was he guaranteed PT by Herb Kohl? Will he start? Does he view non-aggression as a strength or weakness of the Mainland's going-forward relationship with Taiwan?), I'm certainly obligated to also mention the article that Ric Bucher posted today over at ESPN. In it he talks about playing time being the key issue in getting Yi signed, and that Kohl promised Yi 20-25 mpg:

So what happens if Yi doesn't get the minutes promised? Kohl, the source said, has assured Yi he can come to him directly to discuss going elsewhere.

There's always the chance that minutes won't be an issue. Yi could make it a no-brainer to keep him on the floor. Perhaps the Bucks will flourish with a healthy Michael Redd dropping nearly 20 pounds and center Andrew Bogut entering his third season, which is about when most big men learn the NBA ropes.

Another interesting sidenote to this is that Bucher of course called out Larry Harris' pick on draft night for "going strictly on what his father has told him about this kid," which was a rather dramatic generalization given how many times Bucks scouts had seen Yi play. It's perhaps no surprise when Bucher notes that Harris did not return his phone calls about his latest column.

Like the always-intrepid Kelly Dwyer, I generally am not all that concerned with whatever the Bucks may or may not have promised Yi. Mostly it's just because the Bucks simply don't have the manpower at PF NOT to give him major minutes. If Yi doesn't get 20 mpg it won't be because the Bucks are loathe to give their new posterboy any love, and given Yi's reputation as a hard-worker I really don't see him raising a fuss. It's possible some members of his team might be annoyed, but Yi's recent quotes show he's at least saying all the right things about not having any guarantees, being prepared for the difficulties of adapting, etc. My only complaint with KD comes over Yi's age situation and what it means for his career:
Most stateside semi-observers like yours truly who have watched Yi over the last few years have come away with the same thought: "if he's 19, he'll be pretty darn good, eventually. If he's 23, uh oh." Imagine if Brandan Wright played the way he did last season with North Carolina at age 22 or 23. He wouldn't have even been drafted. That's what you have to remember when taking these things into account, and I think Wright's lanky frame and sometimes-there game is a good comparison.
For the record I strongly believe Yi is 22 (turning 23 in October) and I agree 100% that he'd be a better prospect if he was younger. Not even an admitted Yi apologist such as myself will quibble with that. But Brandan Wright to me is not a guy you'd compare to Yi in terms of questions about his age and development. Yes, they're both listed at 19. Wright's biggest question marks center around his ridiculously slender frame (200 at the pre-draft camp), a complete inability to shoot outside of 8 feet (though as his ridiculous fg% attests to, he's great from close range), and a general disdain for rebounding. Without a bigger body and some semblance of a shot, it's difficult to imagine the 19-year old Wright ever being much of a PF, so you're absolutely banking on the physical development and skill improvement that a 19-year old might acquire in 2-3 years. Because he has no chance as is. And for those who say Chris Bosh was also a skinny 19-year old as a rookie, remember that Bosh was a full 25 lbs heavier than Wright was at their respective pre-draft camps. Ironically, I wasted a lot more time reading scouting reports on Wright than Yi ahead of the draft, so

Yi's question marks are very different, and in my mind they're far less dependent on him gaining additional physical/skill maturity that might never come. Skill-wise he has a beautiful release that has allowed him to develop a consistent 15-20 foot jumper while shooting at an 80% clip from the foul line. No real comparison there between he and Wright. He's also got nice footwork down low, which combined with his touch give him a good arsenal of turnarounds and drop-step moves on the block. His hook could definitely use some work, but for a guy who many scouts view as more of a perimeter/face-up 4, Yi's impressed me a lot with his international play in the last month and change. It wasn't as evident in Vegas and most people haven't watched him since then, but he's been remarkably consistent and taken a much larger role with the national team, especially in the absence of Yao.

Physically Yi looks slender up top, but he carries a healthy 240 lbs or so on his 7'1" (according to Chad Ford) frame. He's got a strong base that translates into above-average leaping ability (37-38" vertical) and a knack for getting position down low. He still has a ways to go in becoming a stronger more aggressive rebounder. He could certainly gain some weight in his upper body, but he doesn't have anywhere near as much work ahead of him as Wright. There are absolutely question marks about Yi's game, most notably his rebounding, defensive intensity, and in general his ability to adapt to the NBA game and lifestyle. I think the latter is an automatic question for a player whose country has produced only one star player, but the former two are the ones that to me are the most legit questions about his game. Whether Yi can adapt and improve is far from certain, and if Yi were 19 he'd be arguably the most offensively gifted 7-footer of the last decade. Being 22 lowers his ceiling a bit, but it's still up there.


Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for the past couple of months now (I discovered it when I was searching for Yi updates) and I've enjoyed reading your frequent postings! It is now my number one spot for Bucks info.; JSOnline has been subjugated to a secondary source since you seem to get everything worth reading posted in one spot (and much more). Most would argue that "worth reading" is a bit extreme since a video and short article devoted solely to Damir Markota are hardly news worthy or "worth reading", but somehow I seem to enjoy reading mindless Bucks stories. I too read the Bucher article about Yi and thought the comment about Harris not returning his calls was a bit odd as well, the Brandon Wright comparison was way off and I also tend to agree with most of what you have to say about the Bucks so far.

From an avid Bucks fan (borderline fanatical given how important Bucks' box scores were during my Peace Corps expereince), thanks for your efforts in gathering some of the most useless information on the web! Rest assured there is at least one Bucks fan that will be reading your blog - at least until the season starts (but given the lack of respect the Bucks generally get from the media and NBA in general, I'm guessing your blog will still be a number source for Bucks reading material).

frank said...

Thanks a lot, I'm glad you're finding it informative...it's been a busy offseason, so there's no shortage of things to talk about. The JS coverage has picked up lately which is a great sign, hopefully that continues.

And once the season starts I'm hoping we'll have better things to talk about than Markota's drinking habits!

Sam said...

Great blog! I found out about it from ESPN's TrueHoops. Keep up the great work! I'll be bookmarking this for sure!