Yi Jianlian recently showed off his skills at the Lakers training camp and confidently announced that he is well-prepared to handle both power forward and center positions this season.
— Give _ a _ shot (@fengfengO8) September 26, 2016
And from the looks of things, he’s probably getting what he wants.
According to reports, the 6’11” 240-pounder from China is poised to play as a backup center for the Lakers in the upcoming season. A Tweet was also shared by on-air Lakers analyst Mike Bresnahan.
It looks like Yi Jianlian will be the Lakers' backup center. Looks good in practice, hitting 3s, potentially giving the team a stretch five.
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) September 30, 2016
This may also hopefully mark a more successful stint, since dismal attempts to break out in the NBA season nine years ago.
“It’s tough for me that time,” Jianlian shared with the press. “That time I was not able to speak a lot of English. First time overseas. Not really knowing the American culture at the time. There was a lot of new stuff to pick up. It was tough for me, but it’s a great experience.”
Luke Walton on Yi Jianlian-‘He’s been really good’
And the experience seems to have really added to Jianlian’s skill-set, getting a nod from Lakers head coach Luke Walton.
“He’s been really good,” Walton said. “He’s been shooting the heck out of the ball, which is obviously something we can use. A big man that can step behind the three-point line and help space the floor. I’m a big believer in an open-space style of game. He’s probably our best three-point shooter out of the bigs.”
But putting Yi Jianlian in the big-man position may also pose questions, as well. The most being, will he be able to handle it?
During his NBA career with the Bucks, Nets, Wizards and Mavericks, Jianlian were never really the first choice to play center. The news of the Lakers chose to look at him as backup center puts into question the roles of Ilvica Zubac and Tarik Black.
Others believe though that Yi Jianlian would be a more appropriate fit in Walton’s high up-tempo offensive attack than Zubac or Black. But like many projections, this remains to be seen until tip-off.
Photo Courtesy: Keith Allison/ Flickr