Thursday, August 24, 2006

Future NBA Players at the Worlds

Since I don't have NBA-TV, since my stupid cable company doesn't even offer it (I'm talking to you Charter Communications), I am limited to watching the Team USA games on ESPN, and can't watch the games involving other teams. Of course, for the good of my marriage, which barely survives the admittedly very long NBA season, it's probably a good thing that I'm not watching a lot of basketball in August... but I digress....

In the Team USA games, I've seen a couple of players that appear to have big time NBA potential. Look for these guys in the NBA Draft in the coming years.

Jianlian Yi, China

Wow. You know how NBA scouts rave about young, long international players, and then you see them play and you think, "What did they see in this guy? He can't play." (Think Skita Tskisishnaindfajd, the number 5 pick in 2002, currently out of the league.) Well, I had read a little about Yi, and when I saw him against the US I knew IMMEDIATELY what they saw in this guy. It must be said that he appears to have had his best game of the tournament so far against the US, and his game is far from polished. But I have NEVER seen a quicker jumper at 6'11". That's the thing - when you think 'Asian prospect' you are expecting REALLY big, maybe with some skills (like Yao or even Wang Zhi Zhi), but you're not thinking FREAKISH athlete. This guy is only 18 (turns 19 in October), and if/when the Chinese government lets him enter the draft, he will be a lottery pick. And he'll be a good pro.

Marco Belinelli, Italy

This guy scored 25 against the US, and appears to have all of the tools. He can shoot, he can drive, he is long, he is athletic, and he has a serious scorer's mentality. He was hoisting 3's from everywhere, and he actually made some of them. Nobody on the US team could handle him one-on-one. The Italian players seem for the most part to be content to play in the Italian League, where the money and the competition are very good, and the food is better than in the NBA. Maybe that will change with Bargnani coming to the NBA next season. If Belinelli wants to play in the US, he can be a solid 2. And he's only 20 years old.