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Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010 at 1:00 pm  |  83 responses

Top 50: Yao Ming, no. 38

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Adam Sweeney / @adamsweeney

You don’t understand Yao Ming. Admit it. You don’t understand where he came from as a rookie from Shanghai. You don’t get how hard he has worked to transcend cultures and basketball philosophies, and you certainly can’t begin to grasp the pain he has endured to recover from foot surgery. All you need to understand is this. Yao MinYao Mingg, when healthy, is the best center in the NBA and the Houston Rockets’ title hopes rest on the success or failure of his return.

Critics of Yao Ming say that he is a finesse player, lacking the killer instinct it takes to carry a team to a deep playoff run. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In Game 1 of the 2009 playoff battle against the Los Angeles Lakers, Yao came back from an injury to score 8 points in the final minutes of the game on way to a 100-92 win in L.A. The career-threatening injury Yao is recovering from? He got that by playing through pain in Game 3 of that playoff series. Don’t get it twisted. Just because Yao doesn’t mug for the camera every time he dunks doesn’t mean he isn’t hungry.

There was another humble big man out of Houston who struggled to win a title early in his career, ultimately climbing the highest peak when he found a harmony with his clutch teammates. That man is Hakeem Olajuwon, fitting because Yao is the most skilled big man to play in the Association since “The Dream.” What he does at his size is in complete contradiction with the laws of physics. Let’s go the tape for an example:

To understand the importance of Yao Ming, we have to strip away the YouTube and ESPN highlight mentality we’ve so eagerly grown attached to. You’ll never catch Yao on an AND 1 Mixtape or popping his jersey. At some point we decided that was a bad thing. But, like yin to yang, Yao has merged the selfless culture of China with the individualistic nature of the NBA, and somehow he never leans too far in one direction. And still we want more. We want him to be like us, assuming that is the correct form of existence. But to ask Yao not to involve his teammates and play selfishly is like asking Ron Artest not give shout outs to Queensbridge. Both players’ cultures are so deeply ingrained in them that it has become second nature.

The impact Yao has on basketball is just as heavy off the court as on it. In a sport where image is everything, most fans immediately jump to the names LeBron and Kobe as the most recognizable faces in the sport. Wrong again. You can keep the states of Ohio or Florida, LeBron. Los Angeles loves Kobe. That’s nothing. Yao has introduced the NBA to China, a country whose population is well over a billion people. In an ever-growing international sport that increasingly continues to blur the lines of sport and business, Yao Ming is every bit as important of a brand name as whatever other NBA star that you want to throw out.

How great Yao Ming is can be somewhat qualified by how high he ranks on the list, even as he recovers from foot surgery that will limit him to 24 minutes a game, according to head coach Rick Adelman. That has been the one true downside to Yao’s career, the eternal what if. What could have been a Hall of Fame career has been unmercifully cut short nearly every season. I’ve said it before. Yao Ming’s greatest opponent is his own body. That said, he will go down as one of the most gifted basketball players ever.

That’s not to say you can’t disagree about where Yao Ming belongs in the ranks of centers in the NBA. This is America, a land founded on a platform of democracy, after all. Just keep in mind that players you will offer in opposition, like Dwight Howard, have been dominated by Yao. In their match-ups, Howard averages 12.2 points and 9.8 rebounds against Yao, while the “Shanghai Slammer” puts up 23 and 10 on average versus “Superman.” And if you’re about wins, as you should be, the Rockets are 7-2 all time when the two centers meet. In our country, we call that scoreboard.

Most NBA fans have underestimated Yao Ming his entire career. Charles Barkley bet that Yao wouldn’t score 19 points in a game his rookie season. Yao proved him wrong and Barkley ended up kissing his ass, from a certain point of view.

Still, critics will continue to doubt Yao as long as he plays. That’s OK. Yao Ming isn’t concerned with your opinion of him. He doesn’t care how many Twitter followers he has. What matter to him is dedication to his sport and how he can help the players and people inside his circle succeed. They, in return, love him for it. Yao plays the game the only way he knows how to; the right way. You can continue to doubt Yao Ming. He’s already beaten the odds by becoming a superstar in the NBA. That may seem foreign to you but it’s the world that Yao lives in every day. You just got lost in the translation.

SLAMonline TOP 50 PLAYERS OVERALL RANK POSITION RANK
Player Team Position 2010 2009 2010 2009
Ray Allen Celtics SG 50 36 11 10
Gilbert Arenas Wizards SG 49 34 10 9
Lamar Odom Lakers PF 48 33 14 10
John Wall Wizards PG 47 NR 13 NR
OJ Mayo Grizzlies SG 46 46 9 12
Al Horford Hawks C 45 NR 6 NR
Jason Kidd Mavs PG 44 45 12 10
Joakim Noah Bulls C 43 NR 5 NR
LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 42 39 13 12
David West Hornets PF 41 31 12 8
Monta Ellis Warriors SG 40 NR 8 NR
Andrew Bogut Bucks C 39 NR 4 NR
Yao Ming Rockets C 38 NR 3 NR

Notes
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’10-11 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jeremy Bauman, Maurice Bobb, Erildas Budraitis, Sean Ceglinsky, Ben Collins, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Manny Maduakolam, Eddie Maisonet, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Charles Peach, Branden Peters, Quinn Peterson, David Schnur, Todd Spehr, Kyle Stack, Adam Sweeney, Dennis Tarwood, Tracy Weissenberg, Lang Whitaker, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • http://nicekicks.com meloman2.0

    if yao is healthy, he should be a lot higher than 38

  • wottywo

    Yao, take it easy this season. If yao stays healthy he
    ll make the top 20 easy.

  • El Chinas.

    Good piece, Adam.

  • tavoris

    gotta luv this guy. there might not be a player in the L that I’m rooting for more.

  • albert

    2nd El Chinas

    that’s some good stuff

  • Ho Oh

    When healthy he’s the best C in the league.

  • SchW

    Great article man!

  • http://google c_cantrell

    pretty unstoppable when healthy.. there may never be another player quite like him

  • Overtime

    Prob best write up so far.
    Yao Ming is the ultimate role model, on and off the court. Kids should be taught to be following his example.
    When healthy, i would take him over any other player as my center every day of the week.

  • Marvin

    Very emotional writing here Adam. As I read from beginning to end your article, I felt this uplifting feeling of rooting for Yao and how he has stayed true to himself after all these years in the L. Good to see that Slam mag is not all about the flash and the fake bravado but truly about the love for the game.

  • http://Slamonline.com Nbk

    Good stuff adam. yao is underrated IMO but injury issues I get it

  • http://Myspace.com Shanoooooo

    So who’s the 2nd best Center in the L

  • http://Myspace.com Shanoooooo

    So who’s the 2nd best Center in the L ?

  • http://www.slamonline.com J

    Others already said how good this write-up is but i need to say it again because it deserves so. Great read Adam. Nice work.

  • onlyclipsfanonslam

    It’s a shame that injuries are robbing fans of a potentially top 5 big man of all time. I blame communism, it is taking Yao from us, and it took the best years of Sabonis from us.

  • http://slamonline.com Kap

    Does this mean that Bynum did not make the list?

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    when healthy top 15…under the assumption hes healthy Greg Oden is top 30 at least, you dont average 11/ 8,5/ 2,5 blks IN LESS THAN 24 MINUTES PER GAME UNLESS YOURE AN ELITE CENTER. but we all know he got to play a season to crack the list.

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    oh and nice read, whos the nº2 center? Amare or Timmy not listed as PF?

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    should be Timmy

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    If timmy is a center, hes no1 and yaos no2. I really wish china hadnt been running yao into the ground every summer. This man has hardly gotten any rest his whole career. Hes never had an easy offseason, let alone avg nba offseason. I still remember his first game vs shaq, the buildup was epic, and yao delivered. Swatted shaqs first 3 shots.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    This is lame, if this list is based on production, then Yao shouldn’t be on here because he’s going to be limited to 24 minutes a game. Bogut for 36 minutes > Yao for 24 minutes.

  • http://slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    This was a good read. But Yao is the most skilled big man to play in the NBA since Hakeem? I don’t know…Pau Gasol might have something to say about that.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Cosign Bryan Crawford, Yao’s skills (the ones he has) would be the most refined since hakeem IMO, but most skilled? CHILD PLEASE (“the league” for an emmy) if you can’t utilize the dribble you cannot be “most skilled”

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    I’d take Dwight over Yao any day…

  • http://www.shawnkemp.com Masr

    Who knows how good this guy could have been without the injuries and cosign Caboose but lets remember that injury to Bogut was some serious sh!t and that’s probably why he’s ranked behind Yao. Does anyone know if he’ll be back by the start of the season? (Bogut)

  • bdub

    Great Read Adam. Well put. Have to agree with Bryan Crawford about Pau (Or as wootywoo puts it Paul). Pau is skilled. However, Yao is amazing for his height….7,6!! The dude must have a fucke back all the time..

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    @ Masr- according to Lindy’s pro basketball magazine (sorry slam I cheated on you, dont fuss, ive bought every issue since #1) Bogut is ready to go, however the Bucks need to find a back-up for insurance because their only other options are PFs Gooden and Sanders..

  • JTaylor21

    The BEST center in the league without a question, DHow WHO? dude is too busy trying to outmuscle Arnold, how bout you work on your post move first. All that athleticism and strength and he can only must 18 freaking points, SHAME.

  • http://dsfjklf.com Jukai

    I’d take Dwight over Yao anyday. I’d take a healthy Yao over Dwight on (most) days. See how I had to say healthy? Yao has become synonymous with injuries. He’s gonna become a Hill, a Penny, a King, a Walton, an Alanzo Mourning. Sad, but true. I can’t see Yao bouncing back, as much as I desperately want to see the dude dominate for at least a season

  • http://Slamonline.com NBA kid

    Cosign Jukai. And as far as most skilled big man, since when did Tim Duncan vanish off the face of the Earth?

  • tavoris

    Yao actually IS more skilled. Both Pau and Timmy have athletic and talent advantages, but neither possesses the overall skill package. Yao can’t stay healthy for shyt, but he can do it all on the court. AND he routinely shoots free throws better than most guards.

  • http://slamonline.com AlbertBarr

    Yao shoots free throws better than most guards cause he can basically just reach over from the line and set it in (JK). But seriously, he shoots them better than most

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    We disagree Tavoris.
    Timmy is more skilled than Yao. Yao lacks the incredible footwork that Duncan possesses and relies too much on his smooth, great fadeway jumper. Tim has more counters in my opinion.
    I don’t know about Pau. He’s smooth and talented, but I haven’t seen many turnaround jumpers from him, and his mid range could use some work.

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    yao isnt more skilled than pau, they are close but passing the ball´s a skill and pau´s just an awsome passer

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Great piece, Adam. Thanks. You said pretty much all that needs to be said.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    @ nbk: I’m pretty sure Adam meant most skilled center since Hakeem, which is pretty indisputable. It’s really hard to compare a skilled guard to a skilled center because the skills are, well, different–obviously.
    Co-sign tavoris, by the way. Tim Duncan is kind of a wash though, I’m not sure I’d say Yao is more skilled than him–but Yao IS more skilled than Pau.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    @ Allenp: Yao’s footwork is pretty d@mn good and I’d call it “incredible” for a big man. His spin moves off the block are pretty unmatched for a seven footer post-2000.
    Also, a healthy Yao > Dwight. What are your thoughts on this, Allen?
    It’s sucks that we keep having to add “healthy” before Yao’s name, but it’s true–at the top of his form he’s a better all-around player than Dwight, no question.

  • http://SLAMMagazine Adam Sweeney

    Hey everyone,

    Thanks for the comments and props. I definitely respect Tim Duncan and Pau Gasol’s individual games. Allow me to clarify. That said, I feel he is most skilled center in the game based on his overall skills for a player that is 7-foot-6. It’s pretty incredible what he does. Don’t make me remind everyone of other players his size like Shawn Bradley. (Shudders.)

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    pau´s a better playmaker teddy, yao has better shooting touch…footwork?, i´d go with pau…defense? prolly pau too

  • tavoris

    Allenp-is the disparity in footwork a result of effort, or a result of Duncan possessing a clear advantage in coordination & balance?
    Yao is a relative plodder, so there’s only so much his footwork would/could ever improve.
    I have no problem with anyone saying Duncan is more skilled than Yao. That’s my favorite player.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Hmm I didn’t know Dwight struggles so much offensively with Yao on him. Doesn’t Duncan do pretty poorly against Dwight, conversely? This doesn’t mean that Yao is better than Dwight though. Perhaps Dwight, whose game is built on size and speed and strength, simply doesn’t have as many physical advantages against guys who he can’t easily out muscle, guys like Yao and Perkins.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    What does “most skilled” mean? I think we’ve been spoiled by big men with swingman games, namely KG and Dream before him. Does it matter if a center can do a behind the back crossover on the open floor? Perhaps. But what matters more if he is good at big man stuff. Take the comparison between KG and Duncan for example. Is Duncan the “most skilled” big man of the 2000s? No, actually, I think KG is a lot more “skilled”; he has better handles, is more athletic, and does a lot of stuff Duncan can’t. HOWEVER, Duncan is a lot more “effective”, if not more “skilled”, because he does the stuff that big men are paid to do, honestly, quite a bit better than KG does.

  • Karl

    Sporting Lisbon you’re from Europe so naturally you are going to support your continent’s players.I’m not saying I would take Yao over Pau right now because that would be insane of me, but you have to at least make a fair judgement. I would rather Yao on the block and on defense. Pau is a system player and a heck a good one in that Laker’s triangle.
    It is truely sad that we have to add ‘healthy’ before Yao’s name to prove a point. I don’t think he was really healthy in 08-09 and he still put up 19 and 9. To be that tall and still be able to move your feet around against high class NBA athletes is truely astounding.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    I feel this same idea of “skills” goes back to the Yao vs Dwight comparison. Yao has a sweet jumper and has much better offensive instincts than Dwight. But frankly, I’d take Dwight over Yao as the #1 center every day, simply because Dwight may have less “skills” but he’s the best at what he does by a large margin: rebounds, blocks, defense, being an inside presence, overpowering guys. And Dwight’s offensive game HAS improved, beyond the numbers. Not knocking on Yao, I love the guy and his game. But I’d take Dwight first.

  • JTaylor21

    DHow is so overrated it’s not even funny. He’s EASILY the most athletic and physically gifted big man in the NBA and quite possible of all-time but he puts up only 18/13/2.8 with all the physical advantages he has over other centers. People might say come on JT those numbers are pretty good but I say look at other past great center’s numbers and you will say that dude’s numbers are VERY average compared to theirs. DRob’s 27/11/3, Hakeem’s 27/12/4, Moses’s 25/15/2, 31/15/2, and 25/17/2 all DESTROYS Howard’s measly numbers. I didn’t even mention a guy like Kareem’s numbers. What I’m saying is that DHow SHOULD be better than he is but it’s too busy lifting weights instead of working on post moves. Stop with the weights, you’re buff already and focus ALL your energy and focus on developing a go-to post move.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    @ Joel O’s: I disagree. Completely. If you’re taking Dwight over Yao because of injuries, well then nobody can argue that. But Yao possesses so much more on offense and so much more for crunch time situations that you can’t pass him up for Dwight. Dwight can only change the game on the defensive end, and in crunch time has to rely on his teammates to bail him out. SVG doesn’t even dare let Dwight shoot freethrows to close out a game–NO coach in the NBA would. Meanwhile, Yao is the best free throw shooter on his team.
    Also, I’d like to point out that although Dwight is the better defender, that does NOT mean Yao is weak in any of those areas. People like to mention Dwight’s defense and athleticism as a knock on Yao’s game, but Yao has a very important feature that more than makes up for all of that–his HEIGHT. Yao is actually a better defender than most people give him credit for, and having a 7’6 big in the middle will ALWAYS be a bonus for your team defense. He’s the anchor on a defensive-minded, scrappy and hustle-happy team. Also, his man-to-man defense is great when he guards other centers because his size is just so hard to overcome, even though his vertical is like two inches.

  • ryan

    @ JTaylor21 ur exactly right Howard is overrated…he really needs to work on improving his offensive game and his free throws. Too many times last year and the year before he was a non factor in the 4th quarter when stars are suppose to carry teams.

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    karl, its not about that, im a fan of yao the player and person…healthy hes the best 2 way center in the L, but Pau is the best big man in the L with the decline of Timmy Duncan, as he showed in the 2009 finals..JTaylor, I hear you but dudes BREAKING ALL KINDS OF RECORDS ON DEFENSE.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Big men, unless consistently used to playing undersized at their position (and having developed the skills to do so) generally tend to struggle against players who are taller. Chris Bosh comes to mind. The same is true for Dwight Howard–only there aren’t many players taller than them in the league, since they’re already close to or at 7 feet. Probably an obvious observation, but I’m just saying–Yao is important to have on defense.
    Oh yeah, and about the rebounds: A huge reason why Yao doesn’t average the same amount of boards as Dwight is because throughout almost his entire career, Yao has been surrounded by other strong rebounders. Orlando, however, is built on a line-up of perimeter shooters surrounding ONE actual post presence. Obviously he’s going to be snatching up boards like mad when he’s the ONLY one rebounding.

  • burnt_chicken

    Wow Adam–well written!

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    A player that gets 24 minutes a game on a list that is ” based solely on projected ‘10-11 performance” is hard to explain.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    cosign Betcats

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    @Teddy: You have your opinions and I have mine… I’d just take Dwight before Yao. Oh yeah, people definitely still think of Yao as a weak/stiff guy. He’s one of the strongest big guys out there in truth. Good observation on the rebounding issue too, Yao seems to always play with double-double PFs…

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    @ Adam – That makes perfect sense. His touch for his size is amazing. He is what an 85% ft shooter? And Houston is also the most dangerous team in the league in the penalty. THey actually hold a close lead better then anyone else when Yao is in.
    @Teddy – Read what I said again. Nothing about guards, and as I said most skilled would include all skills. Since he is 7’6 as Adam pointed out dribbling is not really a skill you would expect or consider. But to be most skilled, like hakeem was, would include the dribble. (I assumed as a general statement he meant all big men/post players). Because in all reality the most skilled bigman since, before, and after hakeem is probably dirk or durant. (dirk is a legitimate 7’0, *and if you ask players in the league and people that have been around and would know they would tell you Durant is at very minimum 6’11)

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    but hakeem utilized the dribble almost as well as he did the ball fake. Pau when matched up with a burlier player uses the dribble. Yao (never needs it which is a legitimate reason not to have it) always has a size advantage.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    You’re right Joel O’s, and I respect your opinion. And it makes sense and you have a proper reason for it–it’s all good man.
    And good points, nbk. I concede. But, at the same time I was talking more centers–Dirk is a big man by size but he isn’t a traditional “post presence” because of the way he plays. Same with Durant, who also happens to be a razor thin small-forward. “Most skilled center since Hakeem the Dream.” There we go.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Yeah Teddy I realized he meant centers when I originally posted, which is why I didn’t include those two. Then he clarified.

  • http://Www.fiba.com Darksaber

    Adam, still one of my favorite writers here; very nice piece, man. But if Yao gets only 20+ mins a game, how can one of the main criteria for this list apply to him (projected impact/performance in the coming season)? Of course his mere presence for half a game gives other players more room to operate (Scolaaaaa!) but he’d have to get insane per-minute no’s to be more productive than say…. Andrew Bogut. Luv Yao’s game, don’t quite understand the ranking.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Sup Dark: Well, I suppose playoffs count too, right? And if Yao’s playing time increasing during the playoffs, then he’ll warrant a spot. If anything, once his playing time increases (hopefully) he’ll have been ranked too low. I see what you mean about Bogut though.

  • http://SLAMOnline.com/PlaymakerOnline.com Adam Sweeney

    Hey everyone,

    The discussion is awesome. I have tons of respect for Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudemire, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard’s games. As clarified, I think Yao, considering his size, is the most skilled center in the league. I also feel if he had a player like Kobe Bryant on his team that there is little doubt he would have a ring by now. And no, Tracy McGrady doesn’t count in my eyes. The Lakers’ supporting cast for the last two years has been stacked in comparison to the one T-Mac and Yao used to roll with. Also, the Rockets played some extremely tough opponents in that run.

  • http://www.twitter.com/hurstysyd Hursty

    Yao vs Dwight in their head to head basically shows Yao dominating. Even if the win-lose column doesn’t.

  • http://hoopistani.blogspot.com hoopistani

    Great article Adam, probably the best one I’ve read so far in the SLAM 50 series.
    I especially loved this line: “We want him to be like us, assuming that is the correct form of existence.”

  • lazaruz

    yaos greatest asset = legs the size of tree trunks. he is immovable.

  • Mario

    @ Hursty : Actually it does since Yao´s Rockets won 7 of 9 games against Dwight´s magic and the Rockets team record has also been great for the rockets with Yao.
    And the way the Rockets defense went down without him last year also shows how good he is on that end of the court. Might not get the number of blocks but is an amazing team defender as well as a great defender on Post-ups.
    Rockets also routinely are one of the better rebounding teams in part to his ability to box out.

  • Kandi

    @ JTaylor21

    Wrong!

    You can not reference some of the centers you have because this is a completely different era!

    Dwight spends heaps of time working on his FT’s and offence, just look back to where he was a few seasons ago. He is like Shaq, just can’t shoot them.

    Also, the reason why he is in the gym all the time, not just wieght but reflex and tension training is to keep his body in order so he can play many years hopefully injury free! unlike your Yao. And all of his work comes after trainings late at night. He also takes 1000shots in his own time.

    Clearly Howard was not gifted with great offence but he puts in tonnes of work, he will just keep getting better.

  • tavoris

    Hey Adam-if u qualify it like that, thon Yao is #1 out of a group of 2. There’s nobody else in the L that you can compare his size & skill set too other than Ilgauskas, and he’s like 72 years old.

  • Mario

    @ Kandi : “unlike your Yao”

    I hope you are not trying to say that Yao got injured due to a lack of hard work, because that would be a really ridiculous statement to anyone who knows even the least bit about his personality and work ethic.

    While at first sight his height might be an advantage, it really isn´t when you consider all the pros and cons. On the court it is a problem because it sets very strict limits to what he can do athletically (especially in a league that has gotten a lot faster and more athletic) and the risk of injury with true giants like Yao has historically been there.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Even when healthy, Yao isn’t as dominant as he should be, sorry Teddy.
    I was really struck by how he was unable to dominate the series against Utah and Dallas when both he and T-Mac were healthy. Granted, his teammates, particularly McGrady, took way too many long jumpers, but Yao was allowing himself to be bothered by Boozer and Okur, something that would not have happened to Duncan or even Gasol.
    I really am a fan of Yao. But, I think he lacks the physical tools to ever be “dominant” even when healthy. It’s amazing that he’s as mobile as he is, but compared to most of hte all time greats at his position, he’s a plodder. His soft touch and knowledge of the game are really what make him special, along with his height.
    If I could guarantee their health, I honestly don’t know who I owuld pick out of Yao and Dwight. Yao is lightyears better as an offensive player, but I’m not sure he’s an anchor in the mode of Shaq or Dream.
    Dwight is great at help defense and rebounding, but his lack of offensive skills make him a liability because your team has to work outside in against quality big men.
    Both of htem require very talented teammates to make them effective, and I think my choice would depend on who I already had on the roster. Certain players would work better with Howard, other players would work better with Yao.

  • http://www.acb.com Alan

    don’t like Yao at all.
    he get many good comments just for being chinese, whereas other foreign-born players are attacked just for that (white and european means soft in this coment boards…)
    he’s good, should be the best center in the L no doubt, but he isn’t. he may lack of mental toughness, or maybe is another thing, I don’t know. but he will never win a ring, or lead a team into the Finals.
    either way, he should be higher, top 30 IMO. but that depends sooo much on how he comes back after the injury…

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Who gets called soft when it’s unjustified?
    I’ve never seen Manu called soft.
    Or Nocioni.
    Or Biedrins.
    Or Detlef Schrempf back in the day.
    Nobody calls Oberto soft. And we didn’t call Garbajosa soft. Marc Gasol didn’t get it either.
    All of them would qualify as “white” and “European” in most people’s minds.
    So, it seems like the cats who get called soft are the cats who set themselves up for that label by their play or attitude.
    Fernandez, Dirk (who I like), Pau, Darko and others got called soft because they played soft.
    Yao gets good comments because people respect his game.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Alan that was the most ignorant comment i’ve ever read in my entire life.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jtrain73 Jono

    Alan, I’m Asian and I do agree with you to a slight extent. Yao was defintely soft and frail in his first season but defintely had an amazing skill set for a 7 ft 5 dude. Remember the guys before him who played at that altitude were well…Shawn Bradley? That being said he’s defintely gone a long way removing to removing that ‘softness’ and to a large extent has become far less China Chinese (ie. overly humble, passive, too patriotic to a point where he played non-stop for years). I’m glad he has the support needed to finally take an off season to recuperate. If he fails to put up numbers, wins and 70+ games per season in the next 3-4 years, we can start the criticising for real. Thats all we can ask for from Yao, he’ll never win a ring while this Laker group are intact and the super friends remain friends. OR they can stack up oldies like the Celtics?

  • http://www.twitter.com/jtrain73 Jono

    I’ve been thinking that Yao is alot like guys such as Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Bosh: he’ll never win as the alpha male of the team. All these guys are great passers, shoot well and have good footwork. All these guys would win rings in the triangle offence co-piloting behind Kobe and Phil. I’m fairly confident if Yao instead of P.Gasol was stolen by the Lakers, we’d be seeing the man with 3 (not 2) rings by now.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Why would Yao be thought of as soft because of his ethnicity? No ethnicity is “soft.” Guys like Pau Gasol are labeled soft because they’ve played that way. In other words co-sign Allenp and nbk.

  • DD-Candy

    This is 2/3 Yao,so no.38

  • Todd

    Don’t forget: Yao’s first three seasons in the league, he missed a whopping two games… and both of those came in his third season. The following three seasons were much worse, at 57, 48 and 55 games, respectively. The ’08-’09 season, he played 77 games.

    All that’s to say, he hasn’t been injury-plagued his *entire* career… but when he *has* been injured, it has had a huge impact, both in games played *and* in the Rockets’ success.

    I also think it’s a bit early to say “what *would* have been a Hall of Fame career”. His career isn’t over yet.

  • Andy

    I hope yao’s OK now. Maybe he can’t get as many pts and Rbs as he did before, he can still lead Rockets to get back to playoffs and win more games

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  • arreman

    i agree yao is an amazing player, on of the greatest in his prime,
    but there hasent been a lot of prime actually. and yao stats have never been better than d-howards. maybe in poits but never overall. youve gotta play good against all players not just the biggest man on the court

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