It’s been another crazy week of questions and answers in Chinese BBall, and because there are now 20 teams but still only 8 make the postseason there’s a growing need for efficiency and quality, in a moment where it’s probably clearer than ever how instrumental local players are. One great example for that? I’m just about to show you.
Without further ado, let’s roll:
1 – Liaoning (+2 positions since last week)
How do you get right at the top of a tournament? Easy: you deliver in key games. Liaoning had a pivotal matchup against Xinjiang to determine which of the two sides would remain undefeated, and was able to survive by virtue of a 1-point conclusive lead. He Tianju was key with 27 points while Hudson and Crawford exchanged crazy buckets in a high level, high character game that truly serves as a coming out party, after which Shanghai and Tianjin are just breezers.
2 – Beijing (+3)
When you’re striving for excellence, you’d better keep in mind that excellence is a habit. What do you do when you feel like reminding everybody that hey, you’re still the title holder? You crush your opponents, never winning by less than 19 points, and force your way back into contention conversations, if ever someone had been brave enough not to include you. Marvel at Marbury’s 12,5 ppg on less than 9 attempts per game. Resting for crunch time?
3 – Xinjiang (-1)
Never lose a key game. Eh, CBA’s tragic hero is known for all the wrong reasons when it comes to key games, and alas they lost to Liaoning in the aforementioned, crucial bout. But it’s still early, and they have possibly the best local roster (wow, did I just say that of a team that isn’t Guangdong?!) around: you don’t lose many games when a hypothetical no-foreigner lineup would be Liu Wei – Xirelijiang – Makhan – Su Wei – Zhou Qi. Yet, they’ve lost Crawford to some eye issue that required the Flying Tigers to momentarily replace him with Stefan Bonneau, but they beat both Tianjin and Tongxi with Blatche as the lone foreigner. And I doubt that Liu, Xire and Zhou will mind taking more shots.
4 – Guangdong (0)
Seemingly drifting through the season. Beating everyone but hammering nobody. Guangdong plays noblesse oblige basketball, lets Chris Daniels shoot the fourth-most field goal attempts in the team and eases its way through the schedule (which hasn’t thrown major challenges its way, lately), while letting Zhu Fangyu rise back to his old great numbers.
5 – Guangsha (-4)
Oh, how a team’s fate can change. They were the best team of the first week, and now pouf! – they lose two games in a row against Jilin and Shandong. That doesn’t make them a less intriguing team, but they need some 3-point shooting if they really strive for contention. Playoffs shouldn’t be a problem, though.
6 – Dongguan (+2)
We couldn’t count them out for long. Bobby Brown leads the league in assists per game, a 4-game winning streak is overshadowing a 1-2 start, Gu Quan looks all the more set to stardom and even Li Muhao is playing meaningful minutes. Diogu himself is playing efficiently on 24 minutes per game, and things look good.
7 – Qingdao (-1)
Is Qingdao for real? We still don’t know, as losing to Guangsha hasn’t helped their stock. Nonetheless a three point loss while shooting worse-than-usual from deep isn’t a terrible sign, and the triumvirate Dentmon – Harris – Haddadi leaves a lot of firepower in the 4th quarter without sacrificing too much on D. If only they had a better local roster…
8 – Shandong (+1)
Here begins the fight for a playoff spot. Shandong has had a good week: winning against Guangsha and Zhejiang, while losing in Beijing – a pretty predictable loss – bodes well for a team than isn’t so distant from the one that reached the CBA Finals back in 2013. Ding Yanyuhang continues to make the case for China’s national team starting spot at SF despite having just turned 21 – what kind of country puts major hopes in Li Muhao and misses out Ding and Gu Quan? – and Jeter is hot from the field. Raduljica himself is being effective on the block, and this is a pretty deep team: Sui Ran, Wu Ke, Tao Hanlin, Li Jingyu…
9 – Shanxi (+3)
Shoot the ball well, and games will look far easier. Shanxi has been lights out from deep this week and projects to be in a much more flattering position for a team that gives up 111 ppg while scoring 106. Much credit goes to the trio of imports, Wafer – Tyler – Abbas, though, and contributions from the locals are still missing, which is why this team might end up stopping Big Zaid’s streak – he never missed the playoffs while being an Asian import and thus going to a new, horrible team every season – at 5. Will Zaid (who has played way less than every other season, 29,8 mpg) let this happen, though?
10 – Zhejiang (0)
Oh, you want me to write something more? Ok, Charles Gaines.
Something else? Ok, this is a good team, five players are in double figures – the other three are Ju Peng (’90, PF, 10,9 ppg on 16 mpg), Zhang Dayu (’91, C, 12,3 ppg on 23 mpg) and Wu Qian (’94, G, 12,7 ppg, 65% from 2-point range and 90% from the free throw line). On the team are also a ’93, another ’94 and two ’95. This is a very young team that won’t fall into despair if a playoff spot doesn’t come, yet their import choices are as good as it gets. Literally nobody has better imports, you can quote me on that.
See you tomorrow for part 2!