Yi's First Practice
- He doesn't project to be a starter and might not even be the first guy off the bench, but Yi Jianlian has certainly spiced up the training camp scene in Milwaukee. We all know Chinese basketball fans will be paying close attention to Milwaukee this year, but it's been pretty cool seeing the US media also making a big deal out of Yi's arrival. Bucks.com is of course following the situation closely, and has behind-the-scenes footage of Yi's arrival, which shows Yi's reaction to seeing himself on a Milwaukee billboard. They also have footage of Yi's first day of practice, showing him in the locker room, on the court, and speaking in English yesterday. Even the Kiss FM guys had to get down to media day to interview Yi.
- Larry Krystkowiak talked to WSSP's Doug Russell this morning (Listen MP3). He named Bogut, Redd and Mo as starters but stated that they "didn't know" yet about the two forward positions. My money is on Villanueva claiming the starting PF spot, as he's got an experience advantage on Yi--and he might be better anyway at this stage. While both guys should see plenty of playing time, it probably would benefit Yi to be brought along a little more slowly, rather than piling the pressure on early. Perhaps just as importantly, the Bucks need to find out what they have in CV, who based on his play this year could get either an extension next summer (less likely unless Yi really struggles) or become trade bait (more likely, especially if Yi shows he's got the goods).
- You get the sense that Andrew Bogut is enjoying the fact that Yi has become the media focal point of Bucks camp. Give Bogut credit for saying all the right things about helping his newest teammate adapt to the NBA and America. While he's always had the smarts to be a leader both on and off the court, Bogut has often seemed jaded with his role on the team and everyone knows he never took to Stotts. It's clear that after a summer off the court and with Krystkowiak at the helm he's in good shape both mentally and physically. Having the motivation to play for a big contract extension probably doesn't hurt either. And now it appears Bogut might be ready to take Yi under his wing as well
- LK talks about Yi having no guarantees of playing time. Note that I recall Larry Harris saying no guarantees of playing time were even sought by Yi's people, which Coach K contradicts here, but I thought this story was overblown from the start. The Bucks don't have a ton of depth at the PF spot anyway and 20-25 mpg isn't exactly a ton of minutes for a sixth overall pick, so what's the big deal? From everything we know about Yi himself (read: Yi, not his handlers), I don't foresee him rocking the boat because he only gets 10 minutes some nights. The Bucks will give him every chance to earn big minutes, so now it's up to him to earn it.