Yi Jianlian Adds To His Toolbox

Via the Washington Post: “The Washington Wizards’ textbook fast break against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday – two passes, no dribbles and a dunk, in less than five seconds – served as evidence of the evolving Yi, who is looking to finish strong near the basket more often and “race the floor,” not simply run it. ‘Race the floor,’ Yi said with a grin. ‘That is the term.’ Yi picked up that phrase while working for six weeks last summer with David Thorpe, the executive director of the Pro Training Center in Clearwater, Fla. In one of their early conversations, Thorpe asked Yi if he runs the floor. When Yi told him yes, Thorpe retorted, ‘The best players race.’… Through the first three games of the preseason, Yi is leading the team in rebounding (6.7) and ranks fourth in scoring at 11.7 points per game, despite playing just more than 23 minutes per game. He had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds in the preseason-opening win in Dallas, then had a team-best 16 points in the win over Cleveland. ‘He had skills, but he didn’t know how to play. I think he knows how to play now,’ Thorpe said in a telephone interview. Thorpe worked with Yi six days a week last summer and claims that Yi never missed a workout. Before connecting with Thorpe, Yi thought he could make it in the league simply by being a big man who can spread the floor and hit jumpers. ‘I thought for a 7-foot, agile, long, coordinated athlete like him, it was a huge mistake,’ Thorpe said of Yi, who made 36.6 percent of his three-point attempts last season. ‘We just kind of rearranged his thinking of himself. Instead of [his shooting ability] being a defining part of his game, it’s now one of the tools in his toolbox.'”