***Update: CLICK HERE to watch Sun Yue’s postgame interview***
Two possessions into Sun Yue’s D-Fender’s debut on Friday afternoon at STAPLES Center, it was clear that the Chinese rookie’s been paying attention this season.
First came a perimeter jumper in rhythm (swish), which preceded a more telling movement: Sun’s waving D-Fender teammates into the correct position within the triangle offense.
For the rest of the game, Sun struggled with his jumper, hitting 4-of-15 attempts, but he did manage to score 11 points with seven assists, two blocks and three turnovers in a generally solid 44 minutes of action.
“For a guy that hasn’t played more than seven or eight minutes in a game all year, I thought his conditioning was good, he fit right in, he had a bunch of assists and it looked like his teammates enjoyed playing with him,” said Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak. “He didn’t shoot the ball well, but we’re just concerned with him getting some game time to develop his game.”
“I wasn’t happy that I turned the ball over three times, but it was good to be on the court for so long,” said Sun. “I was kind of surprised that I wasn’t tired.”
Kupchak said the team has yet to decide if Sun will remain with the D-Fenders for a few games, or if he’ll return to the Lakers full time. Phil Jackson added that Sun will probably play in the D-Fender’s next game, explaining that since Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown came over from Charlotte, Yue hasn’t gotten as much playing time in practice.
Alas, while Sun’s effectiveness this afternoon was surely affected by the nearly complete lack of familiarity between he and his D-Fenders teammates, flashes of the big guard’s talent were eminent throughout. L.A.’s second-round pick exhibited a few pretty assists thanks to his ability to see right over his defender, showed his range with a long triple and swatted away two shots when helping on the weak side.
His second three of the game came at an opportune time for L.A., good to tie the game at 88 with just under three minutes remaining. “Here Comes the Sun” didn’t ring out on the STAPLES speakers or anything, but it was a nice debut nonetheless.