Part 2 of Shotsuey!’s power rankings (yep, that’s me, but I don’t mind talking about myself in the third person). We covered the league all the way through number 10 yesterday, but before we get started with the bottom half, let me have your attention on how I rank teams: first off I consider the record, of course, then how well they fared this week. After that there’s a whole bunch of criteria making an impact. For instance, I might consider how tough was their schedule, how actually good they could be and what possibly hindered their progress (be it injury issues, lack of chemistry, lack of experience) so far, and that’s a crucial way of defining teams. Zhejiang might play no better than Tianjin or Jiangsu, but they’re such a young team that they can only improve. And if you plan on improving by taking daily lessons in how to be a real professional you want someone like Charles Gaines on your team, don’t you?
That said, let’s dig deeper into this season’s early outcomes:
11 – Jilin (0)
Undoubtedly Dominique Jones is killing the league with his scoring, but this week both Beijing and Shanghai have managed to slow his pace. Both 24-point games have ultimately translated to losing effort by his team, and with Bowles playing a bit subpar and a local roster that’s providing little scoring punch the team has struggled, and needs to address these issues quickly, as this year the playoff race will be pretty tough.
12 – Jiangsu (+3)
Had they won against Sichuan they’d have found themselves in a surprisingly good position at the end of week two. Still, they did their thing vs Shanxi and Chongqing, and they’d better continue to get the best of the bad teams they get to face, as long as they can. The Nanjingers have a good starting lineup of Douglas, Meng Da, Yi Li, Singleton and former Long Beach State big man Chang Lin. Bench players? Not really, and a quite short rotation doesn’t help this team in the long run.
13 – Tianjin (-6)
Oh me, oh my. What happened to mr 75 and his fellas? They looked good for playoff contention and them boom, they lose three games in a row. A tough schedule with Shanxi, Xinjiang and Liaoning hasn’t helped, but if you wanna make it to the postseason that’s the level of play you’ve got to get used to, and Tianjin isn’t deep enough to play those games right now. Add in a general shooting slump from deep and you’ll get what Tianjin is: an underachieving team.
14 – Foshan (-1)
Tough week for the “other” Cantonese side (oh, well…), facing Dongguan and Guangdong ST, but at least they beat the Rockets. A really inconsistent team with a fairly good starting lineup in Akognon, Khatib, Kravtsov, Zhu Xuhang and Zeng Lingxu and no bench (I’d play Ren Junwei much more than 19.4 mpg, though) that shoots pretty well from deep – 4th in the league – but doesn’t get boards. Meh.
15 – Fujian (-1)
I keep them a slot above Sichuan because of Wang Zhelin, who is still playing like a man, and Zhao Tailong, who is really making the case for his name to be heard outside of China with 19,4 ppg. Yet, Fisher seemingly hasn’t been involved in the action nearly enough (only about 11 shots per game) with Harrington and Wang taking up all the shots, and it’s not like you can blame ’em, looking at the boxscores. Defense, on the other hand, has been terrible, 115,7 ppg conceded is good for bottom 4 in the league.
16 – Sichuan (0)
Dongguan and Guangdong never make a good schedule, even after beating Shanxi. Having already clashed with Xinjiang and Liaoning in week 1, Metta World Peace’s schedule has been brutal. Still, imports aside there’s not much talent on this team, and if guys like Jet Chang shoot horribly you’re gonna have a rough season.
17 – Shanghai (+1)
Hooray! They’ve won a game! Coming off two tough matchups vs Beijing and Liaoning (while holding their own against the latter) they’ve beat Jilin by 7 on Sunday. Their first week was a major mess, never shooting more than 46% inside the arc – yes, inside – and scoring very little, but even this week’s two losses against top-tier teams have shown a slowly but steadily improving squad, and a win was bound to come. The talent is there, you just can’t say any different when you talk about a team that has Michael Beasley, but Delonte West has been cut by Boss Yao Ming and there’s still no official replacement (probably by the end of next week this will all get sorted out). The OT win vs Jilin showed that local players can win a game, though. It might just be a flash in the pan, no doubt. But could the pressure of having only a single import to rely on the motor that makes guys like Tseng Wenting, Song Gonglin and Max Zhang remember that they have more than enough talent to take some of the weight upon their own shoulders?
18 – Tongxi (-1)
The only great team they faced so far is Xinjiang, and they didn’t have Crawford on the floor. Alas, they didn’t have Costner, and McDonald played only 13 minutes due to a brawl involving also Blatche (how come I’m not surprised) and Xire (see above). Ironically, this gave Tongxi, a relatively young team, the resolve necessary to at least compete, and they lost by just a dozen points, far less than expected. The future, though, is a mystery, and the local roster looks by all accounts subpar. This being Tongxi’s baptism by fire their fans don’t look surprised or let down at all by the struggles, which is a good sign for both the fans and the team. Long term, this could be a good place to be, basketball-wise.
19 – Chongqing (0)
Pretty tough schedule, I might say, but there’s just no putting it gently: Chongqing has an obscene defense. They’re not the team that gives up more points in the league, actually, but the team that does, Zhejiang, has a -3.6 differential and the best offensive numbers and the best scorer in the league. Chongqing, meanwhile, sports a healthy-um-yeah-I’m-being-sarcastic -13,4 differential, second worst in the league and, while Willie Warren has been really valuable, my man Josh Harrellson hasn’t (13,3 ppg, third worst scoring import ahead of only Marbury and Abbas, who are recognized and influential enough not to need crazy numbers to back them up) and Kazemi has played only the first couple of games. Ouch.
20 – Bayi (0)
Worst point differential in the league, worst offense in the league with almost 8 ppg less than second-to-last Shandong (who has the third best defense in the league and might contend for the playoffs), Wang Zhizhi apparently ready to save the ship – well, more like “to die in the ship like a true captain would” – and the only team still showcasing a huevo in the win column. Sigh.
I’ll probably take some time to elaborate on how Shanghai could become at least intriguing by making an out-of-the-box decision on Wednesday, so keep checking here.