Lakers Close To Signing Chinese Prospect Yi Jianlian Per Marc Stein


The Lakers have been relatively quiet since signing free agents Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov, but look to be in the mix for Chinese prospect, Yi Jianlian

Last playing in the Association in 2012 for the Dallas Mavericks, Yi Jianlian has apparently turned enough heads with his play in the Olympics to warrant an NBA contract with none other than the Los Angeles Lakers.

After signing Timofey Mozgov to start free agency then Tarik Black a month or two later, it was assumed that the center position was locked down for the Purple and Gold. However, with Mozgov’s recent groin injury, it appears that the Lakers are covering all the bases by signing yet another big man.

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The seven-foot forward out of China had a five year career in the NBA and was drafted sixth overall in 2007, playing for the Milwaukee Bucks, New Jersey Nets, Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks between 2007 and 2012, where he put up modest numbers, his best season being in 2010 where he averaged 12.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and one block a game.

Playing for four teams in five years is normally never a good sign for a player, and the same could be said about Yi who left to play for the Guangdong Southern Tigers after the 2012 NBA season.

Upon watching the Rio Olympics, specifically the USA vs China games, none of the players really seemed to stand out, as they all appeared much to slow to keep up with their NBA counterparts, but Jianlian obviously did enough to get noticed by Mitch Kupchak and the scouting team.

When it comes to Chinese prospects, especially big men, the cheap comparison is usually Yao Ming, but after watching his game it’s easy to see that he’s a lot more athletic and spry than his 7’6 predecessor.

Recently putting up 41 points and 11 rebounds last season in the CBA, Jianlian can stretch the floor with his shooting and defend the rim, but his slow foot speed will definitely be exposed next season at the NBA level.

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Stay tuned for our in-depth analysis of what Jianlian could bring to LA in the near future.