Two former NBA lottery busts have found their home in the Chinese Basketball Association. Michael Beasley and Yi Jianlianwere named the league’s foreign MVP and domestic MVP, respectively, on Monday.
Beasley, 27, averaged 31.9 points, 13.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.3 blocks per game with the Shandong Golden Stars. The forward earned his second straight All-Star berth and received consecutive game MVP honors. His ascent helped push the Stars back to the playoffs, though they were swept by the Guangdong Southern Tigers in their first-round series.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported a number of NBA teams are currently monitoring Beasley for a potential late-season run stateside. Beasley, the No. 2 overall pick in 2008, last played for the Miami Heat in 2014-15. He averaged 8.8 points and 3.7 rebounds while appearing in 24 games, but Miami declined its team option for this season.
“I haven’t talked to him, but I noticed,” former Heat teammate Dwyane Wade said, per Cristian Andal of Yibada. “I want to know who he’s playing against. But he’s a talent. He’s done well in China, man. It’s not a bad thing to go somewhere and to be wanted and feel confident in your abilities. Good for him.”
Jianlian, 28, averaged 26.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.3 blocks per game this season. It’s the fourth straight year Jianlian has brought home the domestic MVP award, and he’s earned eight trips to the CBA All-Star Game. His Southern Tigers took down Beasley’s team in the playoffs, and Jianlian is now aiming to earn a fifth CBAChampionship.
Taken with the No. 6 overall pick in 2007, Jianlian last played in the NBA during the 2011-12 season. Given his lack of success at the NBA level, it’s unlikely we’ll see him stateside again. Basketball reporter David Pick stated the Los Angeles Lakers attempted to bring Jianlian back to the NBA last summer but were unsuccessful.
With both Beasley and Jianlian finding riches and success in the CBA, they may be better off spending the duration of their primes in China. Beasley could become his generation’s Stephon Marbury if he continues this trajectory, while Jianlian is one of the most celebrated players in his country’s history despite his NBA failure.