Sunday, August 25th, 2002
Yao-mania. The latest buzz word that will be a staple of the 2002-2003 NBA
season. Every fantasy owner is probably making plans to have the 7'6" center
from China somewhere on their lineup. The people are lining up around the
block or jamming the telephone wires to get the first Yao Ming jersey
or pick up the first edition of NBA Live 2003 with Ming on it. In a few years,
I'd agree with you 100%. But it's not a few years yet. Here's five reasons
why he won't be the NBA's version of Ichiro Suzuki. At least not now.
1. The Bash Factor
To be a center in the NBA, you have to somehow learn how to smash some heads
down low for the rebound or loose ball. As far as we know, Chinese basketball
players aren't exactly known for getting heavily bumped up during a game.
In the first years, guys like Rasheed Wallace and Elton Brand
will eat him alive since they are both two of the best players in the NBA
in bashing down low. He's going to have to learn to take a few shots and
put up the layup along with his aerial repertoire if he wants to survive against
the West's centers.
2. The Big Bullseye
Put yourself in the shoes of a veteran player. Who would you consider a better
target to go after on the court, some unknown from Moorehead State or the
No. 1 pick from the draft? This question is going to be out to not only a
majority of veterans, but a strong majority of younger players trying to
make a mark, during every single time Ming plays. From his opener at
Indiana to the final game at Denver, people will want to take
it to him. Then again, it might not be much of a change for him since that
was the same attitude he faced with the Shanghai Sharks. Only difference
is the players in the NBA have a bit more muscle, to say the least.
3. The Grueling Schedule
With the Sharks, Yao wasn't given the experience of back-to-back games. But
with the Rockets now, he will have to duel with 13 back-to-back games
this season. It may not effect him now, but how about later on? Will Yao
still keep a high level of play if he goes 40 minutes two nights in a row?
Only time will tell on this subject.
4. The Losing Streak
Yao is coming into the NBA from what is pretty much the L.A. Lakers
of China to a team that is sort of starting to find its groove. He doesn't
really know much on the front of a losing streak. With the Rockets, he will
more than likely face just that. How is he going to react? He might face
some setback during it which could affect his output with the team. Once
he deals with the stress of facing a losing streak along with going through
a winning streak, he'll be better in the long run.
5. Shaquille O'Neal
Shaq deserves his own category. Granted, Yao's taller than O'Neal by about
five inches, but Shaq's bigger by about 40-50 pounds in the weight department.
It's safe to say when the Rockets and the Lakers go at it on November 17th,
he's going to feel the full force of that 40-50 pounds beating the holy hell
out of him in the key. The only good thing about it though is it'll signal
something in Yao's head to bulk up to match with the Shaq Daddy.