Although for months NBA draft sites have been putting Yi Jianlian on their 2007 mock drafts, it has finally been announced that it is certain Yi will be entering the NBA draft next year, which means (barring a total fall from grace that leaves him undrafted and unsigned) he'll be only the fourth Chinese player to do play on an NBA team.
(The Chinese article is here, if you want to read the original article).
Although I don't think it will be just clear sailing from here (the NBA team that drafts him, the CBA, and Guangdong will have a lot of negotiations on a buyout, contract terms and so on), this is the first big step.
However, the man himself, Yi, refused to comment on his feelings or where he thought he would be drafted, saying only that he was still focused mainly on winning the Asian Games and the CBA title.
After the CBA season has run its full course, I will be planning on focusing a lot more on Yi Jianlian and his coming NBA career, on his strengths and weaknesses, and what to expect and not expect from him.
Before the start of the CBA season, I wrote a long post about the change in the CBA schedule. At the time, I was opposed to the change, for reasons listed in the post. However, now, I may stand corrected. Of the three warmup games played by the national team before the Asian Games, one game will be against a junior Australian team, which won't do any power of good.
However, they will twice play against the champions of the NBDL, the Albuquerque Thunderbirds. Not only will this be good competition for the national team, it will also server as a comparison. If the team's top young prospects get outplayed by players that can't even make the IR of an NBA team, then there should be some serious re-thinking going on in the offices of the CBA. This is especially important for Yi. He should take this chance to prove himself, grab it by the horns, and dominate. Although it won't improve his draft position any, since a dominant performance is expected, the opposite, a lackluster game, would hurt his position a lot.