With the Los Angeles Lakers looking to fill out their roster before the preseason, they made headlines once again by signing forward Yi Jianlian. Despite several trips back and forth from the Chinese Basketball Association after several years as an NBA journeyman, the former sixth overall pick has impressed the Lakers’ brass with his improvement.
Yianlian’s skill set has intrigued the Lakers brass. The team, as well as Del Harris, his former head coach for the Chinese National Team, believes he’s an ideal fit in Los Angeles. It appears Kobe Bryant also liked what he saw in Jianlian a few years ago. We recently dug up some old footage of Kobe sharing his thoughts on a young Jianlian back in 2012 on CCTV News.
“Opportunity,” Kobe said of Yi Jianlian. “I really think its just opportunity, you know he is extremely talented, I just don’t think he’s had the opportunity to show what he can do, he hasn’t had the right system. He’s never had that. So if that day ever comes and people will see what he can do. Hopefully, he can come play with me and we can show everyone what he can do.”
Although Kobe’s wishes for a Bryant-Jianlian duo never came to fruition, much of what Kobe said about the Chinese star still rings true today.
Despite his glaring strength issues that plagued his NBA career up to this point, Jianlian came in when the league was still transitioning to ‘small ball’ schemes. Perhaps his skill set could serve him better this time around where the stretch four has become a vital component to success.