Until now, Yi Jianlian's most impressive performances since his decision to join the NBA came against furniture. In yesterday's loss to Spain, though, a chair might have have played him better than Serge Ibaka and the rest of Spain's frontcourt did.
Yi Jianlian of the Washington Wizards had a double-double for China, scoring a game-high 30 points and pulling down 12 rebounds.
Yeah. That Yi.
The same guy who, in five NBA seasons, is averaging eight points and five rebounds. And yeah, the guy primarily tasked with guarding him was a pretty close second in the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year voting. But for one game, Yi was living up to all the hype that surrounded him when he first joined the NBA.
Spain ended up winning by 16, which isn't a shock. Spain is full of NBA players and China's lone NBA representative is Yi. It took this kind of performance out of Yi to even make parts of this game close.
I guess the next logical question is... where the hell did this come from? Is it some sort of free agency thing where he's trying to show a team that if he's the man and gets a lot of touches, he can be the versatile forward that landed him in the lottery? Is it just a fluke where a guy with unrealized talent caught fire against a disinterested team who underestimated him?
It might be a little of both. Or it might be neither. But you know someone somewhere in the NBA is breaking down every milisecond of this game film to figure out if Yi is worth a look. 24 year-old forwards don't drop 30 and 12 against maybe the second-best national team in the world without NBA executives at least raising an eyebrow and doing their due diligence.
Of course, it could all be wiped out and he can go back to being "lottery-bust Yi Jianlian" by sucking in the next game. But he can soak this up for now, because for once, he showed flashes of what he was always supposed to be.
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