UPDATE: The Nets announced late Friday that Ding Yanyuhang has returned to China. A knee injury and a commitment to China’s national team required him to leave the Nets.
Chinese media giant TenCent reported Thursday that the Nets had offered Ding Yanyuhang, two-time domestic MVP of the Chinese Basketball Association, a two-way contract, but that he hasn’t decided whether to accept it. The Nets denied that but didn’t say they’re not interested.
TenCent also reported that Ding, nickname Dingsanity, had experienced knee pain and despite acupuncture treatment was unlikely to play. The Nets said that wasn’t so either, but added they will take a look at his situation on Friday to see if he’s ready.
“Don’t have any update. He’ll be able to talk to you about that, but he has participated at some points with us, yes,” assistant Jacque Vaughn, who will coach the summer-league team, told Brian Lewis and Greg Logan who are on hand in Las Vegas.
“He did some practice [Thursday], he did some practice [Wednesday]. It’s not determined what he’s going to look like [Friday].
Still, the 6’7” combo guard who averaged 26 points a game in the CBA last year (with highs of 45 and 42 points) has become the center of intrigue on the Nets team. Multiple Chinese media outlets are on hand in Las Vegas for Ding’s second summer league stint. Last year, he wowed Mavericks fans with his scoring, athleticism and passing. It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that Ding is the best position player —wing or guard— to ever come out of China.
This isn’t just an exhibition for him. He wants to play in the NBA. It’s a tryout.
Take it from the player who’s seen the most of him, his summer league teammate Semaj Christon who played 65 games in the NBA with the Thunder two years ago then spent last year in China.
“He’s real good. He’s going to surprise a lot of people. He’s athletic, super-athletic. I think he’ll surprise a lot of people,” Christon, who averaged 27.8 points in China, told Brian Lewis.
“He can play. He got a little swag to his game, so I like him a lot. I like him a lot. … He was good, super-athletic. He could play, could shoot, he played super, super hard.”
And those Nets who’ve watched him work out at HSS Training Center the past two weeks came away impressed.
“He’s very skilled, very athletic, very competitive, too,’’ Caris LeVert told Lewis. “We like those things. Especially a new teammate, you like to see he’s very competitive. And he fits all those box for sure.”
“He’s a great dude. He can really shoot the ball. Yeah, he’s a good guy,” Spencer Dinwiddie told Tencent at the NBA Awards ceremony last month. He also said that Ding speaks enough English to get by. “It’s OK. He’s got enough to get by right now. We’re good on the court.”
In addition to the pain in his knee, there’s another issue that could affect Ding’s chances of playing. The Chinese national team has a big FIBA commitment next month and Chinese officials worry that if he exacerbates his injury, he won’t to be able to play in that tournament.
Like we said, international intrigue.
- Chinese superstar is the Net getting the most summer buzz - Brian Lewis - New York Post