The 2017 Summer League has brought out the best of the best of the Mavericks new Chinese sensation, Ding Yanyuhang, and with one last two-way contract available, could it be Ding's to win?
At 23 years old, Ding is no newcomer to the professional basketball scene. Playing five seasons under the likes of the Shandong Golden Stars of the CBA, Yanyuhang became an offensive superstar for the Stars, setting high expectations after replacing former NBA champion Norris Cole. On regular occasion Ding shined like a star, achieving 30-plus point games on a regular basis, as well as twice recording his career-high of 43 points. Though the competition in today's NBA proves to be superior to that of some of the overseas basketball leagues, there's still no doubt Ding could thrive as a support player for both the Mavericks and their G-League affiliate, the Texas Legends.
Reporting to the Mavericks as a two-way player could actually vastly improve Yanyuhang's game in the NBA. Orlando Summer League teammate, Brandon Paul expressed his overwhelming fondness for Ding, but admitted to SportsDay’s Dallas News that the biggest challenge is the language barrier in between the two. Overcoming this issue may be the easiest of the flaws required to make an entrance into the NBA, and time in the G-League could assist in this.
Splitting his time with the Mavs and the Legends could surely act as an introduction phase for him, allowing him to smoothly ease his way into the culture of American basketball, which may be harder than it sounds. Worldwide basketball associations all typically stick to the same structure of rules and officiating, with some slight differences in small aspects of the game. And getting accustomed to those differences won't happen on a dime, which Ding has shown throughout his recent success at the Summer League. He’s already picked up a number of goal tends as well as tip-dunking a ball when it was still above the rim since it’s allowed in Chinese play.
Regardless of the language barrier and his lusterless statistics in Orlando, bringing Mr. Yanyuhang to American basketball could create endless business opportunities in the PR side for both the Mavs and the NBA. It's no secret at all that the NBA would like to improve its exposure among the Asian basketball community, and bringing over a CBA MVP could spark a rise of popularity for the NBA from fans from that portion of the world.
Nevertheless, it will be interesting to watch how this situation unfolds and whether or not Ding will continue on a path of NBA stardom—in which to the fans, he already seems to be. After pulling up to nail an impressive 3-pointer, the crowd went berserk with excitement. Ovations from the crowd might as well been heard outside the stadium, as fans screamed “Ding-Ding-Ding” to every stirring action Ding performed on court.
Unfortunately for us pundits, Ding spoke only to Chinese reporters post-game, forbidding us from just the tiniest insight into the mind of Ding after his first stint with the Mavericks. For now, CBA and NBA fans alike will just have to wait and see if the Chinese sensation is offered a two-way contract, as only time will tell what the future holds for young Ding Yanyuhang.