It's safe to say that rookie Yi Jianlian is making progress in his crash course on life in Milwaukee and the National Basketball Association.
Take for example, how he handled the situation when he boarded the team bus recently and was greeted by his coach, Larry Krystkowiak.
"He got on the bus and I said (the Chinese word for hello) to him," Krystkowiak said. "And he said, 'What's up?' to me. So I thought, 'This is a little bit backwards.' He's trying."
小K教练说，“上车后，我跟他用中文打招呼。他回答 ‘What’s up?’，我想‘这样的回答虽说有点老套，’不过他还是在努力学。”
Learning the jargon is only a small part of the whirlwind that Yi has experienced since arriving in town from China a couple months ago.
Off the court, he has acquired a taste for steak, thinks the "Michigan Lake" is very scenic and is learning some American slang, which might or might not be a good thing. While a translator still travels with the Bucks to assist Yi when dealing with the media, Yi understands "basketball" English very well.
On the court, his confidence level is on the rise and he has had some good and not-so-good games while trying to deal with foul trouble.
"You always have that learning curve with rookies where it's going to take him awhile to look comfortable and understand," Krystkowiak said. "And then you throw in the cultural differences we have. It's hard for any rookie. He's been a sponge and he's soaking stuff up and he doesn't make the same mistake twice. He seems very comfortable out there."
Said Yi: "It's still the starting point of the season so that's the position I'm in. Right now, I've got to improve on (not) fouling . . . that's the biggest thing. I want to build up my body and make my performance more stable on the court as time goes on."
Going into tonight's game at New York, Yi is averaging 9.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and about 25 minutes per game. He has committed 36 fouls, second-most on the team to Andrew Bogut (52).
Yi has exhibited a soft outside shooting touch, he runs the floor and moves very well, and executes a nice pick-and-pop game with the guards.
However, the Bucks would like him to get stronger physically and become more effective playing in the low post, and they want him to develop a more assertive move to the basket.
Yi plays in the low post more with the Chinese team because he has a size advantage when playing on an international stage than he does in the NBA, where he faces a steady diet of 7-footers.
"On the national team, they wanted him to play inside because of his size," Krystkowiak said. "Internationally, maybe it makes a little more sense to take advantage of his size and put him near the basket. In our league, his (lack of) strength might be one of his weaknesses. So if we have him playing inside, he's going to get pushed around a beat up a little bit.
"But as the league watches him, they may put smaller players on him. So we need to think about putting him down at the block in a post-up position. I think first and foremost, he's going to be more of a player away from the basket but I think the post-up game is something that will certainly develop."
Yi has no preference when it comes to playing on the perimeter or closer to the basket.
"I like whatever is available," he said. "Watching the opportunity."
The Bucks would also like Yi to learn to take the ball to the basket harder when opponents run at him and try to disrupt his outside shot.
"We're working on some attack moves because they're going to be flying at him," Krystkowiak said. "He's got a nice first step where if he could get a guy coming at him, he could show a little shot fake. He can get to the rim with one dribble from the NBA three-point line. So it would be a nice little weapon to add.
"He's getting more confident with it."
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