Yi Jianlian Gets Second Chance for NBA Success by Signing with the Los Angeles Lakers
The rumors were confirmed on Monday when it was reported that forward Yi Jianlian put pen to paper on a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, making his return to the National Basketball Association official.
Yi, who was picked sixth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2007 NBA draft, will certainly have a lot to prove in his second stint in the league as he has only signed a one-year contract that does provide incentives based on his performance.
Expectations were quite high for the native of Guangdong Province when he first set foot on the court in his rookie season in 2007. However, inconsistent play and a failure to fit into the systems set up by coaches saw him move from the Bucks to the New Jersey Nets, Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks respectively.
A return to the CBA, which was his only option after five fruitless seasons in the NBA, seems to have helped him rediscover his game, but it was his play in the Rio Olympics that re-sparked interest in Yi as he averaged 20.4 points, 6.6 rebounds in the five pool games they played (which were all losses).
While Yi has improved, there are still questions as to whether he can make the transition back in the NBA. In his first stint he seemed out of place defensively while on the offensive end he had his moments, but was inconsistent. He may not have fit well in the NBA previously, but now he just might have a chance to do well in the league based on how most teams have changed their style of play.
In an era in which most teams rely on the three-point shot, Yi should be able to fit in well， in addition to having the athleticism and strength to keep up. He hit 37 percent of his three-pointers in the CBA last season, but he will have to adjust to shooting from a longer range in the NBA, and hopefully for the Lakers they will not see a drop in that percentage.
The most important thing that Yi must do this upcoming season is find a way to be active in the offense when called upon. For far too many times in his first stint he seemed lost and would only appear when given the ball. It is one of the concerns former Chinese men’s national basketball team head coach Del Harris expressed in his assessment, saying that Yi needed to play under a coach that would use his skill set. Depending on how new Lakers coach Luke Walton utilizes him in the offense, there is a chance Yi have a much longer career in the NBA.
Hopefully, Yi’s second chance in the NBA will be a success, and the Lakers are certainly not taking a huge gamble on bringing him in as they look to develop the younger talent on their roster in hopes that they can return to their past glory days.