12.31.08

D’Alessandro : Y Start Yi?

Posted in Basketball at 2:26 pm by

While the blogosphere’s hoops intelligentsia are occupied with watching the Magic open up a 27 point halftime advantage over the Bulls (15 points, 13 rebounds for Dwight Howard thus far), I’m instead gazing at the Nets’ visit to Detroit. Jersey’s Yi Jianlian (above) was substituted in favor of Eduardo Najera pretty early on, a decision that presumably met with the approval of the Newark Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Alessandro, who declared of the Chinese powerless F earlier today, “his offense has almost sunk to the level of his defense, which was already excruciating…(Lawrence Frank) already knows that the moment teams see Yi lining up as the starting 4, it’s an open invitation to bend the rim.”

The thing that we find most bizarre is this obsessive commitment to Yi lately. It’s pretty clear that the kid has regressed in the last month – now he hits the wall in December, not January? – and if the coach is seeing something the rest of us are missing, we wish he’d share it.

His last 10 games — 6.2 points on 30.2 percent, neither figure a misprint – aren’t exactly what you can live with from a starter. He’s still the softest finisher in the league, he’s too timid for the position, and his confidence is shot.

Sure, he has to play. But no, he doesn’t have to play a lot – not while Eddie Najera is gathering dust, anyway.

Three times in the last eight days we’ve asked about Najera, and each inquiry received the same response we got today: “You know what he can do, and I’m just looking to incorporate it with what we do,” the coach said.

Actually, we haven’t a clue what he can do, because he’s played 81 minutes in two months. The last cameo was a three-minute stint against the Bobs Friday, when he seemed to bust a play (he scored anyway, if memory serves) and came right out.

That’s not what he signed up for. It’s time to pull him out of mothballs – or move him. Here’s an idea: Send Eddie to his hometown of Oklahoma City, throw Sean Williams into the deal, and see if the Thunder will hand over Joe Smith, who is the victim of another dubious youth movement.

Not so coincidentally, Smith’s name has popped up elsewhere this week, with the Celtics expressing interest and the Magic expressing, er, non-interest.

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