Larry Joe Legend likes 'em tall and small.
Larry Joe Legend made a bold move today to bolster the Pacers front line and add some change-of-pace depth to the point guard position. Once again, he dipped into the "who the hell is that?" foreign player market, but it looks like this time he found some can't miss prospects.
Bao Xishun, a veteran center prospect out of Inner Mongolia, stands at about 7'9" and should help the Pacers establish a strong inside presence on both ends of the court. That is if he can make it back and forth between both ends. At 56, Bao's age was a concern for LJL, but he figures this signing will send a strong message to Pacer fans that the future is now. He considers Bao's signing immediate help for the Pacers to go on an immediate championship run.
The signing of He Pingping solves another area of need for the Pacers. LJL has continually mentioned the need to improve PG production, but with Chucky Atkins going to Denver and Steve Blake heading to Portland the options were beginning the thin. By adding the "Mongolian Mini-me", the Pacers have a promising young point guard that will push Jamaal Tinsley for a starting job. A couple of issues make this appear risky. First, He is only 19 and the level of competition he dominated in Mongolia is suspect at best. Also, he's only 2'4" which will make him the smallest PG in the NBA. LJL thinks these issues make this a no brainer, though. At 19, he has some time to adjust to the NBA and his size creates a mismatch thanks to the otherworldly handle He displays. He excels at breaking down a defender and the taller the opponent the more trouble they have trying to contain the gnat quick He. LJL likened it to a cat chasing a ball of yarn being pulled around the floor. You think you have him contained and then, whoosh, he's between your legs.
LJL downplayed criticism that the duo was a package deal, but didn't deny their Mongolian roots made it more appealing. In fact, he intimated that with all of the pick-up they've played together, Bao and He were a better combo than Oden and Conley.
LJL also felt that adding Bao in the middle would please J.O. and allow him to avoid banging bodies with opposing centers. Far too early to criticize this move, especially with the lack of game tape on both players. If the Pacers can find uniforms to fit Bao and He, they'll be off to a good start.