There are some obvious caveats to Yi Jianlian's outstanding start for China at the 2010 FIBA World Championships. Yi is the clear number one option on a team without many other options, and FIBA's style is also very different than the NBA style.â†µ
That said, you have to be really, really impressed with the way Yi is playing. Yi is averaging a whopping 26 points and 11.5 rebounds in China's first two games, leading an undermanned club to a better-than-expected performance. He scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in a close loss to powerhouse Greece, then followed it up with a 26-point, nine-rebound line in a win over Ivory Coast yesterday.
Yi's performance against Greece really stands out when you consider he did all that while matched up against star Greek big man Giannis Bourousi, who dominated Team USA in an exhibition game last week. There were many times when Yi was just too athletic for the Greek bigs, especially on the glass, an area he's struggled with in the NBA. It's usually hard to improve one's rebounding, but maybe Yi can buck the trend.â†µ
Maybe, just maybe, the World Championships will be the springboard Yi needs to turn around what has been largely a disappointing NBA career thus far.â†µ