[ 2007-06-27 14:40 ]
Jianlian, seen here in 2006 and regarded as China's next breakout star
after Yao Ming, leads global prospects in Thursday's National Basketball
Association Draft with US college star Greg Oden the likely first
Yi Jianlian, seen as China's next breakout star after Yao Ming, leads global
prospects in Thursday's National Basketball Association Draft with US college
star Greg Oden the likely first selection.
Yi, a 7-foot forward with quickness and a nice outside shooting touch, is
likely to be taken among the top 10 selections, possibly in the top five, after
the 19-year-old star led the Guandong Southern Tigers to three Chinese titles.
Yi averaged 24.9 points and 11.5 rebounds in 30 minutes a game last season and
worked out in private sessions with several teams, impressing Philadelphia 76ers
president and general manager Billy King in many areas.
"Shooting the three-pointer,
handling the basketball, seeing him run," King said. "We got to see him do the
same testing we do with prospects, like shuttle
runs and sprints."
"For years, a lot of the NBA execs might have thought the American player was
better. But that's not the case anymore," Nets general manager Ed Stefanski
said. "Some foreign-born players are excellent. They're here to stay."
Italy's Andrea Bargnani was the top pick in last year's draft and Australian
Andrew Bogut went number one in 2005.
Yao went number one to Houston in 2002 and has had a major impact in raising
NBA interest in China. Almost one in five NBA players last season were from
beyond US borders.
"If the international ranks didn't exist it would be impossible to duplicate
the quality of play we have today," Memphis Grizzlies general manager Chris
Global media will reach record levels at this year's draft, which will be
seen in 115 nations and heard in 18 languages.
"This is the first time the NBA Draft is being broadcast live in the
Guangdong area," said Lu Xiaofeng of Guangdong TV Sports. "Our country is proud
of the potential draftees from China and hope they get selected early."