Late Round Foreign Invasion?Yi Jianlian, Nenad Krstic and Danilo Gallinari. One game into the season, is it too early to say that they have arrived? Let's take a quick look into each.
Yi Jianlian: Yi has shown flashes in each of his first two seasons in the league before eventually fizzling out. As a rookie in 2007-08 he started the year solid, with averages of 9.7 points and 5.8 boards per game in November and 12.1 points with 6.6 boards in December before appearing to wear down. Over the last five months of 08 his scoring average per month dropped from 12.1 points to 7.4 to 6.4 to 5.6 to 4.0 as his entire game tailed off. He kept it going a bit longer as a sophomore, averaging 10.7 and 6.2 in November and raising that to 15.8 points and 7.4 boards per in January before injuries derailed the rest of his season. That season he averaged 15.6 points and eight rebounds over all of the games where he played 30+ minutes.
So, Yi's 17-point 12-rebound effort in game one against the Wolves doesn't necessarily guarantee anything since he could just burn out again. It says here that he won't, though, that he has finally started getting used to the physical rigors of playing in the NBA and that he is ready to play 30+ minutes on a nightly basis. If this is true, he really should be able to average 15 and eight for this Nets team which would make him great value where I got him in the 14th round of my draft.
Nenad Krstic: Krstic was a player on the rise in his first few years, raising his averages from 10 points and 5.3 boards as a rookie to 13.5 points and 6.4 boards as a sophomore up to 16.4 points and 6.8 boards through 26 games as a third year player before he blew out his knee. That ended his third season in 06-07, and in the last two seasons he has struggled to regain his footing in the league. He showed signs of finding himself at the end of last season in Oklahoma, though, and entering the preseason the Thunder coaches were all saying that he looked good and would be relied upon this year. He followed that by playing a strong preseason, and then starting the year with a 20-point/7-rebound effort. Krstic has already proven that he had the talent to produce at the NBA level, and now that he is healthy again and playing big minutes on a team that needs him I fully expect a return to the solid scoring and rebounding threat that he was a few years ago...not bad for my 15th round pick.
Danilo Gallinari: Gallinari was a high pick for the Knicks last season, but a back injury derailed his rookie campaign before he could show whether he had the goods to succeed in the NBA. Once he started getting healthy this summer, though, Gallinari showed that he didn't have a confidence problem when he declared himself ready to be the face of the Knicks. Gallinari had an up-and-down preseason this year and did not win the starting small forward job for the Knicks, but he did explode in his first game as he drained seven treys on his way to 22 points.
Gallinari was the one that got away for me, as I decided to wait on him in the 16th round (I took Travis Outlaw instead) and then he got picked before it got back to me in the 17th round. I am not overly disappointed, though, because of the three players discussed here Gallinari is the one that I am least confident can maintain his game-one pace. Because of the injuries last year, this is essentially Gallinari's rookie season in the NBA. He is also coming off the bench, and the Knicks have several players that play his position. I expect Gallinari to have some great games when he has the hot hand, but I also expect him to have quite a few stinkers.
All told, I am pretty happy with my non-US born late round draftees three days into the season. Let's just hope I'm still patting myself on the back for taking them by the time April rolls around.