|Born:||October 27, 1987|
|Birthplace:||He Shan, China|
|Draft:||2007 (1st Rd.)|
|College:||Guangdong School of Technology|
Yi Jianlian (born October 27, 1967 in He Shan, China) was signed as a free agent by the Dallas Mavericks on January 6, 2012.
Yi had made quite a name for himself playing for the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball League and winning three championships during his time there. He grew up playing basketball and had acquired an impressive reputation throughout his country as a top-rate player.
Drafted in the first round of the 2007 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, controversy ensued almost immediately. Yi had announced, in advance of the draft, that he did not want to play in Milwaukee due to the city's lack of a large enough Asian-American population. Despite the warnings, the Bucks moved forward with their policy of drafting the best player available at the time and selected the 6'11 forward. After repeated meetings and appeals, Yi signed with the Bucks on October 29, 2007.
Yi had a solid rookie season with the Bucks appearing in 66 games and averaging 8.6 points and 5.2 rebounds. His season was cut short on April 2, 2008 with a knee injury which sidelined him for the remainder of the year. Following his rookie season, former Mavs assistant coach Del Harris, who had coached the 2004 Chinese Olympic Basketball team, described Yi as "the most athletic seven-footer in the NBA." High praise indeed from such a respected basketball man.
Despite a respectable rookie campaign the Bucks traded Yi and Bobby Simmons to New Jersey, during the offseason, for Richard Jefferson. That first season in New Jersey just never took off as injuries and a lack of playing time limited Yi to just 5.5 points and 4.1 rebounds in only 19 games.
The next season, however, saw Yi settle into the Nets offense and post the best numbers of his career to date. Despite missing 16 games due to a sprained MCL and another eight games to a lip laceration, he averaged 12.0 points and 7.2 rebounds in 52 games.
The 2010 offseason brought another move for Yi as the Nets packaged him along with three million dollars in cash considerations and moved them to Washington in exchange for Quinton Ross. He appeared in 63 games for the Wizards averaging 5.6 ppg and 3.9 rpg.
With his contract up at the end of the season and not knowing what would happen with the 2011-2012 NBA season, Yi signed a one-year deal with Guangdong of the Chinese League. He had an opt-out clause in the contract that he could exercise when the NBA season finally began. He chose to utilize that option when the Mavericks signed him in January of 2012.
Yi returned to his native China, and his old team the Guangdong Southern Tigers, for the 2012-2013 season.
Yi's international experience includes representing his native China in both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic games.