Hollywood comeback for Yi
Updated: 2016-08-24 07:21
File photo of Yi Jianlian. [Photo/IC]
Chinese power forward aiming to revive NBA career in Los Angeles
Following an impressive individual performance at the Rio Olympics, Chinese power forward Yi Jianlian has inked a one-year deal with the LA Lakers to return to the NBA.
After being drafted sixth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2007, Yi spent five seasons in the NBA with the Bucks, New Jersey Nets, Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks, averaging 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds while shooting 40.9 percent.
The 6-foot-11 Guangdong native averaged 20.4 points in China's five games in Rio, ranking third overall in the Olympic tournament.
The 28-year-old was also seventh among all players in rebounds (6.6), steals (1.4) and blocks (1), but his personal success made little difference for a China squad that went winless at the Games.
"We're excited to have a player of Yi's worldwide accomplishments," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said on the weekend.
"We look forward to bringing him to training camp and hopefully having him make an impact on our team."
Yi spent the past four seasons with the Chinese Basketball Association's Guangdong Southern Tigers, for whom he also played from 2002-07 and during the 2011 NBA lockout.
He began his CBA career when he was 15 and has compiled an impressive resume in the domestic league with eight All-Star selections, four championships, two regular season MVP awards and two Finals MVP honors.
His international career includes winning three gold medals at the FIBA Asia Championships (2015, 2011, and 2005) and a gold at the 2006 Asian Games.
One of only six Chinese-born players in NBA history, Yi helped his nation win gold at the 2006 Asian Games and has competed at every Olympics since Athens in 2004, where he played under former Lakers head coach Del Harris.
Yi was fourth in rebounds (7.5) at the 2008 Beijing Games, and four years later in London he led the Olympic tournament in rebounding (10.2) and placed second in blocks (2.2) during a brief run that included a 30-point, 12-rebound performance in a loss to Spain.
A mobile big man with the ability to shoot from midrange, Yi could fill the role of floor-stretcher for the Lakers if he is able to hit consistently. His 3-point shooting is still suspect, however, as he averaged just 37.4 percent from downtown last season.
Yi managed to drain a strong 46.7 percent of his deep shots in Rio, but the 3-point line is closer under international rules.
Nba.com / China Daily