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Yao Ming: Disappointment?

October 3, 2005

Considering how popular he is and how much pressure he generates, it’s hard not to be impressed with how he’s performed. The expectations we held from Yao were too high; his stats were gigantic when he played in the chinese league. I guess people imagined what Shaq would be like if he was 7’6, and how Yao should have an advantage over everyone.

Let’s look at some of the other 7’5 and taller centers in the NBA. Manute Bol at 7’7 was a great shot blocker (just like everyone else), but lately he’s been known for his stupid and crazy antics. Shawn Bradley at 7’6 is just terrible; a field mouse could knock it down. Gourghe Muresan at 7’7 was a one-time All-Star, but like Shawn Bradley, he was skinnier than most pencils and also got hurt. By comparison, Yao is much better than any of the giants who played before him.

Yao Ming has the ability of some of the shorter 7-foot centers of the NBA’s past: Zydrunas Illgauskis, Arvydas Sabonis and Rick Smits. But the bottom line is that Yao can’t create his own shot the way those guys do. He is averaging 19 points and 9 rebounds per game, which is easily star status. However, Yao Ming averaged over 30 points and 20 rebounds per game in the pro-Chinese basketball league, which in the NBA would set all kinds of records. So by comparison, he’s not great. But he’s better than Pervis Ellison.

But I’m super critical of his stats, because anyone with that size and talent should have better numbers. When you’re the tallest person in the NBA, you have to grab 13 rebounds per game. Charles Barkley grabbed 14 rebounds per game and was only 6’6, a foot shorter than Yao.

Ming doesn’t seem to ground himself in action or get excited about a game, unless he’s playing Shaq. Superstars attempt 12+ shots per game. And 2 blocked shots per game from a guy with a height advantage over everyone isn’t as productive as it should be. With a little more intensity, he could be the first Houston center since Hakeem Olajuwon to win the NBA title.

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