You remember Yi Jianlian, yeah? He was the seven-footer from Guangdong Province in China who was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the sixth pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. Oh, how nice it was to be drafted so high and be able to play in the best basketball league in the world.
But wait! Yi was upset. His “handlers” were upset. They wanted their boy to play in a “large” market. But the problem was that none of the teams selecting in the first 10 picks were in a large market.
Well, maybe Chicago, who had acquired the New York Knicks’ ninth pick. Beyond the Bulls, the true “large” market teams would not select until 14th (the Los Angeles Clippers), followed by the Los Angeles Lakers at 19 and New York Knicks at 23. Considering the talent and potential of Yi, you knew he would not last that long.
As it was, the Bucks took him, and he held out, deciding not to sign. He whined and moaned, but finally he did sign.
Yi then rewarded the Bucks with lackluster play. In turn, the Bucks rewarded him by trading Yi to the New Jersey Nets. Hey, now he is in a large market!
So, being in a large market, Yi should be happy and produce. Well, only by "producing" nearly an identical season in East Rutherford as he had in Milwaukee: same points per game (8.6); one-tenth of a rebound more (5.3); two-tenths of an assist more (1.0); one-tenth of a steal less (0.5); and three-tenths of a block less (0.6).
Oh, but he did dramatically improve one stat—games missed (21 in 2008-09, five more than a season before).
What gives a guy who has not proven himself in the Association any right to push to be on a particular team? In this case, Yi still has not proven himself yet. Well, except he is inconsistent, mediocre, and seems to be injury-prone.
Apparently these unproven "kids" are still trying to dictate where they go.
On Thursday, June 25, Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio was drafted No. 5 by the Minnesota Timberwolves. This should be a happy time for an 18-year old kid! But the following day there was some whining and moaning about him not being happy going to a "small market." His dad is meddling as well.
I can get being upset that the T-Wolves took another point guard. It seems unlikely that a Rubio-Jonny Flynn backcourt could really work in the NBA. And a platoon system? Forget it.
But being upset about the size of the city where the franchise is located? C’mon, Ricky! He played in Badalona, Spain—population of over 218,000. He does know that the Minneapolis-St. Paul MSA has over three million people, right? That is the 16th largest MSA in the U.S. and, according to Nielsen Media Research, the 15th largest television market
Or that the city of Minneapolis itself has 377,000 people? Seems to be a step up from Badalona. Sure, it is relatively a small market, but it is not Boise, Idaho either. Yes, I am being facetious, but complaining about the size of the franchise's city seems petty.
First off, Mr. Big Stuff, who do you think you are? Have you proven anything? Oh, Rubio has some decent ball skills. Some nice behind the back carrying—ERRRR, I mean dribbling; good passes out of his backside.
Do people realize that he averaged 2.4 PPG in the Euroleague last season? That’s just awesome. Hmm, 2.8 assists? And 2.4 turnovers per game!?
In the Spanish League, Rubio did produce a bit more. He averaged just over 10 points per game over the last two seasons. And while he averaged 4.9 assists in those two seasons, Rubio was the ACB's leader in average assists per game last season (6.14).
Most scouting reports note that he is not that great of a shooter. He also does not seem to be able to get through traps or actual defense. He seems to be able to move it in transition, but that is only a small part of the game.
He is also small in terms of his frame (listed 6'4" and 180 pounds). He is going to get banged all day and beaten by stronger NBA point guards. I cannot imagine Rubio guarding someone like Baron Davis, who has 35 pounds on the Spanish "phenom."
At best, he is a streetballer (at least right now). It is the AND1 Mixtape, the European Version! Remember White Chocolate? That is Ricky Rubio!
He does need time to get better, and he will likely do that. But he has not done anything to prove that he is worthy of being a lottery pick, nor has he done anything to be able to dictate where he should play. It is no different than college football players being given huge contracts even though they have not proven themselves.
The problem here is that neither Rubio nor Yi have done anything in the NBA to give them any power to dictate where they should be playing.
Rubio could have ended up in Oklahoma City. He does realize how cold it gets there. I am sure Sacramento would have been exciting.
As it is, he is in Minnesota. Suck it up; play your best and earn your place in the NBA.
Maybe it is a trend among young kids. After all, he was the first player born in 1990 drafted into the NBA. But this sense of entitlement is a bit much.
People want to compare Rubio to Pete Maravich and Drazen Petrovic. That is unfair to the late, great players, as both of them actually established themselves before entering the NBA. I do not remember seeing Petrovic average fewer than three points a game prior to entering the NBA, or Pistol Pete complaining about playing in Atlanta.
But hey, who needs to be established when you have "potential," the most often used term in this year's NBA Draft. Apparently "potential," translated to Spanish, means "entitlement." I think I need Mark Madsen to translate for me.
Ricard Rubio Vives has "potential."
So did Michael Olowokandi.
This article originally appeared on Uncle Popov's Drunken Sports Rant on June 26, 2009.