Shotsuey!’s CBA 2014-2015 season awards (+ some words on the CBA’s status).

So, yeah.
Turns out this blog is still alive and well, even after the end of the season. Quite clearly, its activity will be slowing down considerably during this off-season, and you all are aware of how long a CBA off-season is. Nevertheless, it’s certainly been a long month of absence for me, during which other aspects of my life have been temporarily taking a huge amount of my daily time. Back to our main subject, though, as the CBA season has crowned a not-so-new champion in Beijing’s team, the Ducks, and Stephon Marbury has captured Finals MVP honors once again. Anyone surprised?

To some extent, I was. Let’s not forget how the main talk of the preseason was centered around the change of heart the league had concerning foreign aids’ floor time in the fourth quarter, a decision that seemed to promote teams who had better local players (a.k.a. Guangdong) over other sides more import-centered (a.k.a Beijing). It was easy to speculate that the league wanted to preserve its one true dynasty in the Southern Tigers.
The final result is baffling: Guangdong was very much Bynum’s team in the final stages, while Beijing’s effort was a team one throughout the whole season. And the new rule itself hasn’t brought too many unfortunate consequences, either, as now every team basically has a main import player (usually a guard) who will be their best man and the other spot can be filled by big role players, a much more affordable commodity even among those prototypical NBA 15th men the Chinese league is so in love with. A very impressive bunch of players who’ve competed in the Middle Kingdom this season has finished the season in an NBA roster, be it Beasley, Hudson (who had been missing from the Association for a while), Franklin or Bernard James.
This, by the way, is very tempting for players, as now the CBA looks like a pretty convenient place to be if you haven’t landed a spot in the League after training camps, provided that a) you will be putting big numbers and b) you’ll be free to go everywhere around February or at the very worst March, when NBA teams might very well be in jeopardy trying to assemble some healthy players to put on the field, as injuries have been hitting pretty much every player on the planet with relentless cruelty for at least 4 or 5 seasons now. As it is, Hudson has made it to the Clippers after another MVP season in China, Bynum now plays for the Wizards after dominating in Guangdong, Bernard James has taken advantage of the Rondo trade (which had Dallas parting ways with Brandan Wright as well) to make the Mavs’ roster once again, Toney Douglas has played solid minutes for the injury-riddled Pelicans, Jamaal Franklin has been wearing the Nuggets’ jersey for the last couple of games, Earl Clark plays for the Nets.
And yet, there’s even more to it: the NBL, China’s sort-of-a-Summer-League with B level teams (there’s no consistency in how winning NBL teams have been rewarded with a CBA slot, but after a long drought there have been 3 promotions in two years) has contributed two of its last year’s players to this NBA season, although at different times and under different circumstances: 2014’s Chongqing import Arinze Onuaku has worn a T’Wolves jersey at the end of this season, when Minnesota had basically everybody out injured; 2013’s Sichuan and 2014’s Tongxi center Hassan Whiteside is now a sensation in Miami.
Yes, that Hassan Whiteside.

Without further ado, now, let’s move on to the main entrée: Shotsuey’s very own CBA awards, complete with full explanation.

2014/15 CBA Most Valuable Player: Lester Hudson (Liaoning)

Easy choice: the man’s been on fire all season long and has carried another team to the Finals, albeit without being able to get over the hump. 31,2 ppg, 7,7 rpg and 6,9 apg are inhuman numbers and still they’re not even close to telling the whole story. He’s been a leader and a champion in every aspect.

Runners-up: Dominique Jones (Jilin), Yi Jianlian (Guangdong)

2014/15 CBA Most Valuable Local Player: Yi Jianlian (Guangdong)

At 27 years of age the former NBA lottery pick has peaked into a legit star: 27,5 ppg, 10,8 rpg would be above average numbers for an import, let alone a local player. Guangdong has been sensational in the regular season with that huge winning streak, and only an overtime loss in game-6 has doomed them to another early exit in postseason. Yi has posted 31 points and 24 rebounds in that key game, despite giving up the key tip-in to Zhu Yanxi that ultimately got Beijing the series, and has little to recriminate looking back at his season. Best local player the CBA has seen in a while.

Runners-up: Li Gen (Beijing), Lin Chih-Chieh (Guangsha)

2014/15 CBA Rookie of the Year: Andray Blatche (Xinjiang)

Deciding whether only first-year pros were applicable for this “trophy” was a head-scratcher for me, but ultimately this is the CBA Rookie award, so all first-time CBAers are welcome to compete. Blatche was ultimately the most deserving despite his team not making the playoffs thanks to his outstanding stats: 31,1 ppg, 14,6 rpg, 5,1 apg, 2,8 spg. Honestly, every conversation should just stop here. Dominant in every aspect, and it’s great to hear he’s coming back.

Runners-up: Willie Warren (Chongqing), Errick McCollum (Zhejiang)

2014/15 CBA Sixth Man of the Year: Li Gen (Beijing)

It was a tough decision, but ultimately having to play one import at a time during the key fourth-quarter makes it hard to be as valuable as a sixth-man if you’re a foreigner, unless your coach is really willing to switch between you and the leading import. Thus, no Randolph Morris, as Min Lulei stuck with Marbury a lot in key moments. Li Gen, conversely, was relied upon much more than expected, posted starter-quality numbers and was a key component in late game situations with his ability to either step outside for a three or post up smaller guards (including the MVP himself, Lester Hudson, who gives up a couple inches and around 20-25 pounds compared to the stocky Chinese 2-guard). A tactical weapon and a reliable offensive weapon is exactly what you look for in a sixth man.

Runners-up: Randolph Morris (Beijing), Mike Harris (Qingdao)

2014/15 CBA Most Improved Player: Makhan Korambek (Xinjiang)

If there’s one player that has nothing to feel bad for while looking back at a disappointing season, that is Makhan. Whereas guys as Li Gen have already had breakout performances a while ago and have probably just taken their due time to replicate them in bigger scenarios, Makhan has never really exploded until now. While his numbers for the season might not look stellar (13,6 ppg, 3,5 rpg), his final games have been: he’s averaged almost 24 ppg in Xinjiang’s final 5 games – where the Mongolians were supposed to run the final stretch for a playoff spot – and has made 26 consecutive free throws to finish his season. All of this shooting almost 50% from the field throughout the whole year and having to guard some of the best players in the league. Of all the 3-and-D kind of players in China he’s by far the most advanced defender. Now his offense is catching up, and at a key moment for his career as he turns 23 in September.

Runners-up: Chang Lin (Jiangsu), Ju Mingxin (Foshan)

2014/15 CBA Coach of the Year: Guo Shiqiang (Liaoning)

We gotta pay respect to what Liaoning has accomplished as a team that was coming from a 1st round knockout vs Xinjiang. Hudson has played the main role, but it takes good coaching to get a Finals appearance that had been missing for a while and to challenge the great teams in Beijing and Guangdong (once Xinjiang basically committed suicide) and get this close to winning game 5 with the series tied 2-2 vs the defending champions. It wasn’t enough, this time, but they have been the team who registered the biggest improvement, and Guo should take a lot of credit.

2014/15 CBA Defensive Player of the Year: Hamed Haddadi (Qingdao)

Despite Zhou Qi’s great numbers (3,3 bpg), Haddadi’s impact on Qingdao was undeniably the single greatest accomplishment the CBA has registered this year. You just don’t move from a bottom-4 spot to the CBA semifinals because “you have one more import”. That import has to be very good, and Haddadi was. Really the heart and soul in Qingdao’s system, the former Grizzly has made his NBA experience (and, while we’re at it, his experience in one of the best defensive teams of this decade, that’s what Memphis is) count in every appearance, making opponents’ life hard at the rim, grabbing rebounds and making Qingdao third in the league in fewest OR conceded per game.

2014/15 First, Second and Third All-CBA Teams:

C Yi Jianlian (Guangdong)
F Andray Blatche (Xinjiang)
F Michael Beasley (Shanghai)
G Stephon Marbury (Beijing)
G Lester Hudson (Liaoning)

C Hamed Haddadi (Qingdao)
F Elijah Holman (Guangsha)
F Jeremy Tyler (Shanxi)
G Dominique Jones (Jilin)
G Willie Warren (Chongqing)

C Zhou Qi (Xinjiang)
F Charles Gaines (Zhejiang)
F Randolph Morris (Beijing)
G Errick McCollum (Zhejiang)
G Von Wafer (Shanxi)

2014/15 First and Second CBA All-Defensive Teams

C Hamed Haddadi (Qingdao)
F Andray Blatche (Xinjiang)
F Zou Yuchen (Bayi)
G Lester Hudson (Liaoning)
G Dominique Jones (Jilin)

C Zhou Qi (Xinjiang)
F Elijah Holman (Guangsha)
F Arsalan Kazemi (Chongqing)
G Mehdi Kamrani (Tongxi)
G Toney Douglas (Jiangsu)

(n.b. really too bad that Chris Singleton didn’t manage to play at least half the games this season, because he would have certainly been a first team member)

2014/15 International and Local CBA All-Rookie Teams

C Bernard James (Shanghai)
F Andray Blatche (Xinjiang)
F Michael Beasley (Shanghai)
G Justin Dentmon (Qingdao)
G Jamaal Franklin (Guangsha)

C Zhou Qi (Xinjiang)
F Zou Yuchen (Bayi)
F Luo Kaiwen (Bayi)
G Ren Pengpeng (Shanghai)
G Heng Yifeng (Jiangsu)

That’s it, CBA fans. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, see you soon and take care!

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One thought on “Shotsuey!’s CBA 2014-2015 season awards (+ some words on the CBA’s status).

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