Billy King was either invited to L.A. to see the big Chinese power forward work out, or he crashed the party. King came away impressed. In the pre-draft hype environment, every little thing, no matter how mundane, no matter how much things scream “due diligence,” gets way too much attention. That being said, I’m starting to get a sinking feeling in my stomach.
Yi may be a good NBA power forward. He may be a great NBA power forward in the new euro-model of the position. He’s apparently very agile for a big man, with a nice touch on his jumper. A perimeter 4 with the skill set of a 3. Yi certainly has a following who believe he’s the next coming. This charge is led by the folks over at Golden State of Mind, who have been doing their own brand of e-recruiting for Yi for some time now.
If Yi is the best of what they’re saying about him, he’d obviously be a great addition. If the Sixers can get him at #12, I won’t be crushed. I’ll move on, learn everything I can about the guy, and hope he develops into a star. The thing that’s giving me a sinking feeling is that Billy King has all of this ammunition going into the draft. He’s got 3 first-round picks, and an early second-rounder. Basically, he has the chips needed to trade up to get just about any player other than Greg Oden or Kevin Durant (Al Horford could be out of reach as well, but that’s debatable). King has all of these chips, and I’m worried that he’s going to cash them all in to move up for Yi.
The Sixers need to come out of this draft either with more than one contributor, or with a sure thing. I don’t think you can say that about Yi. I certainly can’t. If Billy uses up all of his leverage to move up for one guy, that guy had better be named Greg Oden, Kevin Durant or Al Horford. I love Jeff Green, but I don’t think it’s worth giving up more than the #12 and #30 to move up a couple of spots to get him. This draft is flat from the top three players to about number 14. From Mike Conley Jr. down to Al Thornton is pretty much a pick ‘em (minus Noah, who is a late-first rounder in my opinion).
If the Sixers can come out of the first round with two players like Jeff Green and Morris Almond, for example, I think they’ll be in much better shape than they would if they wound up with Yi alone.