Probably the most western of all CBA events, the All-Star Weekend, is now in the books; Beasley dominated the big game with 59 points, Blatche was pretty much the hero of the day with his showmanship, Zou Yuchen used the youngsters game to further established what CBA fans already knew: he’s head and shoulders above any young guy whose name isn’t Zhou Qi. Meanwhile, the lanky 18-year-old big man (who has forfeited the event due to injury, but returned in Xinjiang’ losing effort vs Beijing) is being awarded a far more intriguing honor: his name has entered the 2016 NBA mock draft awarded by the pinnacle of all draft scouts: DraftExpress sees him as a possible 17th pick next year
1 – Zhou Qi, Chinese draft prospect.
The thing I could take pride of, if ever, is that I’ve already done my homework on the subject. I haven’t changed my mind too much from the linked article, as he still looks too wiry for someone who’s one day supposed to have to guard NBA players. On the other hand, however, with Blatche preferring floating positions on defense to rack up steals and, more generally, imports not necessarily guarding each other in the regular season, Zhou Qi has already had to guard some NBA players. That, of course, is something not many fellow prospect can say. The good news is that he will have at least two seasons to show how good he is in a team that will a) let him play meaningful minutes and b) let him play meaningful games (and those will be much more meaningful than any game most NBA prospect will ever face before getting drafted). Of course, how he fares in them will be either his blessing or his undoing, but Zhou will be responsible for his own destiny. And that, for such a young kid, is cool.
On the flip side, yesterday’s showing vs Beijing has underlined that he still has a long way to go, as Morris freely disposed of him on the offensive end. Will Xinjiang sacrifice part of their postseason chances in order to let the youngster get some valuable experience under his belt?
Knowing how things roll in Urumqi, I’d doubt it, but it looks like they trust him more than Su and Tang. Will it still hold true in a hypothetical postseason run?
2 – Dongguan, dead in the water.
Since Shanxi has lost 2 games in a row and their confidence is suddenly coming up short, there are now 4 teams with the same record (22-11) filling spots from 6 to 9, but only 3 playoff berths are available.
Let’s analyze what matches these 4 teams still have to face:
Shanxi: Shandong (home), Qingdao (home), Fujian (away), Foshan (away), Sichuan (home)
Xinjiang: Jilin (away), Shandong (home), Qingdao (home), Fujian (away), Foshan (away)
Jilin: Xinjiang (home), Liaoning (away), Tianjin (away), Tongxi (home), Jiangsu (home)
Dongguan: Guangdong (home), Bayi (away), Zhejiang (away), Guangsha (away), Beijing (home).
As you may have noticed, aside from tomorrow’s bout between Jilin and Xinjiang, there will be no direct matchups. It’ll be all about capitalizing every chance. Shanxi has quite a few (basically the only real threat is Qingdao), as for Xinjiang. Jilin has to get over two consecutive extremely tough opponents, but if they survive the last three games will be a lot easier. Dongguan is by far the unluckier of the 4, having to face Guangdong, Guangsha and Beijing. None of the other three teams has to face more than one playoff side. Looking at it from this point of view, it seems already over: Bobby Brown and his fellas are out, the other squads are in. But, hey, that’s Bobby Brown, Ike Diogu, Zhang Kai, Gu Quan…do you think they will let it go that easily?