NBA Big Guys

WASHINGTON, Oct 31 - Number one draft choice Andrew Bogut of Australia and Chinese center Yao Ming are among up to 100 international players who will be on National Basketball Association clubs in the season that opens Tuesday.
Aussie big man Bogut will make his NBA debut when the Milwaukee Bucks open Tuesday at Philadelphia while 2.26m giant Yao will spark the Houston Rockets, who begin their season on Wednesday at home against Sacramento.
In 2002, Yao became the first international player taken with the first pick in the NBA Draft. Bogut followed that legacy this year although the 7-footer went through the US college system, unlike Yao.
Bogut made his name with skilled passing and quickness inside last season at the University of Utah, averaging 20.4 points and 12.2 rebounds a game and hitting 62 percent of his shots to claim consensus Player of the Year honors.
Bogut averaged 14.8 points and 8.8 rebounds for the Aussie Olympic squad last year at Athens and hopes to help lift a rebuilt Bucks’ squad beyond their 30-52 showing last season after a solid pre-season showing.
His skills will be accentuated when you put better players around him, and his passing skills will become better when you have more scoring threats around him,'' Bucks coach Terry Stotts said. My concern for him is the progress he shows at the defensive end.’’

He also wants to make maximum use of Bogut’s passing skills without denying him the chance to be aggressive on offence.
I don't want to take away his unselfishness. I think his passing is very important and we're going to need his passing during the season,'' Stotts said. I don’t want him to force his offense but I would like him to be a little more aggressive looking to score. I think his scoring will set up his passing.’’
Bogut could make up to 26 million dollars over five seasons with the Bucks, his agent said when the Aussie signed his contract in July.
Yao has become the most dominant center in the Western Conference with Shaquille O’Neal’s departure to Miami and the Asian superstar has shown steady improvement and greater consistency with every season.
Yao averaged 18.3 points and 8.4 rebounds a game last season, then signed a five-year contract extension worth a reported 80.9 million dollars.
Yao Ming has proven himself to be one of the league's elite centers,'' Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said. Since his first day here with the Rockets, Yao has dedicated himself to winning a championship.’’
The Rockets must get past the first round of the playoffs, although they were struggling simply to reach the playoffs before Yao’s arrival.
Our team is getting stronger,'' Yao said. Everything is getting comfortable for me.’’
Yao and backcourt playmaker give the Rockets a strong inside-outside combinartion.
I'm excited to know he'll be playing alongside Tracy McGrady for many years to come,'' Alexander said. His rare combination of size, strength and shooting ability make him the perfect complement to Tracy’s all-around game.’’
Yao will be aided by the addition of free agent forward Stromile Swift, who will be counted upon to join the Chinese star in dominating the boards.
I think we'll have a good year,'' Yao said. Right now, Tracy and me have one year of experience. We know how to play together.’’
France’s Tony Parker and Argentina’s Manu Ginobili will return to San Antonio’s backcourt as the Spurs, powered by US Virgin Islands forward Tim Duncan, try to defend their NBA crown.
Canadian guard Steve Nash, last season’s NBA Most Valuable Player, will spark Phoenix into contention while Germany’s Dirk Nowitzki ignites the Dallas Mavericks and Peja Stojakovic powers Sacramento.