Aug 6, 2010, 6:28 PM EDT
At this point in his career, former #6 overall pick Yi Jianlian would have to be considered something of a bust. He had a decent enough year last season, averaging 12 points and 7.2 rebounds a game, but shot only 40% from the field and was traded for Quinton Ross last June.
“I thought that he really had no idea how to play,” Thorpe said. “I thought that he was a guy who thought he could really shoot the ball, and that became kind of the center of his universe. And he really had no understanding of a way to impact the game other than 19-foot jumpers……In our gym he blew us away. We were told by his agent, Fegan, that we would be shocked by how athletic he was and we were. All my players in the gym were shocked. All the coaches were shocked. And I think he shocked himself.”He was dunking everything, and beating guards down the floor, and stripping guards, and making plays full-court in transition with the ball in his hands. His strength coach, who is with him full-time, said he’s never seen him do that kind of stuff before. All of a sudden, his personality came out, and he became a fun guy to be around. He brought spirit to practice. He was just a different guy.”
With players like John Wall, Andray Blatche, and JaVale McGee on their roster, the Wizards already have one of the most intriguing collections of young talent in the league. If Jianlian can play up to his potential in Washington, they could have one of the most dynamic young frontlines in basketball.