Shotsuey!’s CBA 2015/2016 regular season awards + is Shotsuey! still alive?

It’s been a wild season.
Eleven players averaging north of 30 points per game, sign of an immense improvement in terms of offensive firepower brought in by imports whilst defenses haven’t gotten any better. Seemingly every player unwilling to dwell in the cellars of the D-League is now considering the CBA as an option, and the level of talent this year has been, if we believe the numbers, the highest ever.

However, the oldest recipe in basketball hasn’t changed meanwhile and out of the aforementioned 11 top-scorer there’s a hateful eight that won’t make the playoffs. It’s not about the CBA alone, either, as the eight best teams in the NBA feature 5 top-11 scorers, only two more than in China.
No player in the NBA, however, averages a triple double like Jamaal Franklin did; no player averages 30+ points per game (although Curry did for a long enough time for consideration if the NBA season had as many games as its Middle Kingdom counterpart, which is 38).

The playoff picture, meanwhile, is juicier than ever: while 8th seed Zhejiang is an undoubted weak link, all 7 remaining sides have a decent chance of winning the trophy; it’s also nice to see Sichuan finally rise up after two years of debatable choices in the desperate effort to acquire some relevancy. Shandong also enjoys a nice bounce back from last season’s painful mediocrity (a team with that kind of local talent just shouldn’t be out of the playoff picture, period). Beijing is a dangerous 7th seed, and while I personally fear the Ducks are done as a title threat – Li Gen’s adieu hurt them too much, as Marbury couldn’t really rest like he did last time around in the regular season without fearing his team would lose to inferior opponents – Xinjiang surely hoped for literally anybody else to be their first-round opponent.
Completing the picture are Guangdong, first seed Liaoning and Guangsha, another very promising team built for the future.

As the regular season’s in the books, however, it’s time to look back at it.
It’s awards time, fellas, and I couldn’t hope for a better occasion than this to come back in my little, cozy, personal CBA space.

Here I present to you the 2015/2016 Shotsuey! CBA awards.

2015/2016 CBA Most Valuable Player: Lester Hudson (Liaoning)

Possibly not as easy a choice as last year, Hudson’s stats have been a bit overshadowed by the barrage of high-scoring imports all around the league. While they fight and struggle for the eighth seed, however, it’s easy to picture Hudson sipping his tea while sailing rapidly to the top of the league at the helm of his very own Liaoning Dinosaurs (or Flying Leopards, or whatever the heck they are called this year). It’s cool being a good player, even cooler being a great player in a great team.

Runners-up: Michael Beasley (Shandong), Willie Warren (Zhejiang)

2015/2016 CBA Most Valuable Local Player: Zhou Qi (Xinjiang)

A much more heated discussion could ensue from this award if it were actually handed out by the league. Yi Jianlian is clearly the best local player and stats don’t hide it: 26,7 ppg and 9,2 rpg are import numbers that no local comes close to. However, while they’re only slightly worse than last year (when this award was a no brainer), it’s Guangdong as a whole that has taken a step back; meanwhile Zhou Qi has greatly improved across the board and that has directly translated to his team bouncing from no playoffs last season to second seed now. And his production on both ends is a big reason why.

Runners-up: Yi Jianlian (Guangdong), Lin Chih-Chieh (Guangsha)

2015/2016 CBA Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Pargo (Guangsha)

Another tough choice, as some rookies have been lighting up the league. However, Shotsuey! values winning and being a functional part of a team that reaps good to great results as much as an individual force to be reckoned with. Pargo took a rough gig in Guangsha, as the team is talented but seems to get in trouble more often than you’d like, culminating in last year’s waiver of Jamaal Franklin for reasons that ultimately are still undisclosed and unclear, a blow the Lions never really recovered from. Pargo needed to plug in quickly in an offensive system that wasn’t going to just cave to every desire of his without a whisper, and he did: 25,4 ppg look nice, 8,5 assists per game look nicer, and his teammates’ stats have often improved as well. Everybody’s happy now in Hangzhou.
Well, at least apparently.

Runners-up: MarShon Brooks (Jiangsu), Jabari Brown (Foshan)

2015/2016 CBA Sixth Man of the Year: Pooh Jeter (Shandong)

One more hard pick, wow. While Jabari Brown had the better stats, giving the award to a top-10 scorer who was inexplicably never granted a starting spot in a team that, probably as a consequence, ended up dead last would implicitly validate the horrible choice of keeping him on the bench to begin with. So, once again, we award winning and selfless attitude.
Pooh Jeter has been the star of a Shandong team that made the most unexpected CBA Finals appearance ever in 2013, and has never been questioned as a starter for the team until last season’s quarrel with the front office, after which Pooh seemed gone for good in Shandong. The two sides eventually made up, but the signing of Michael Beasley meant that he would have to consider taking a step back to a second fiddle role. Could someone so used to being the focal point of the offense accept this in a team with which he begrudgingly parted ways just months earlier?
He did, and it paid off: career highs in scoring, assists and all shooting percentages across the board. All of this with the team making a sumptuous comeback in playoff (and possibly title) contention.
Well played, Pooh.

Runners-up: Jabari Brown (Foshan), Justin Dentmon (Sichuan)

2015/2016 CBA Most Improved Player: Zhou Peng (Guangdong)

Probably the best surprise of this CBA season has been the outburst of many young Chinese players, partly because of playing off of better (and far more worrying for opposing defenses) imports. Ju Mingxin, Zhai Xiaochuan, Tao Hanlin, Cui Jinming, and the list goes on.
However, less frequently players already in their prime happen to step up with a better timing than Zhou Peng this season, as most historic pieces in Guangdong (Wang Shipeng and Zhu Fangyu above all) are getting too old to produce with the same consistency they once were capable of. Zhou, meanwhile, has emerged as more than just the defender he was labeled as, putting up threes at a comforting rate (42% after years of inconsistent and sometimes terrible showings) and bursting to the rim with uncommon athleticism for a 6’9″ Chinese player.
The key is his production not only is notable, but gives Guangdong, the only team in the league that trusts its locals more than its imports, to hold true to the beliefs that made them China’s greatest dynasty of the oughties.

Runners-up: Cui Jinming (Jilin), Tao Hanlin (Shandong)

2015/2016 CBA Defensive Player of the Year: Zhou Qi (Xinjiang)

The easiest choice of the year. Zhou Qi is a full block ahead of CBA’s second best seasonal output and his defense is directly responsible for Xinjiang’s success. On top of that, he’s established himself as a probable first-round draft prospect as soon as this year because of his defensive abilities, so it’s really hard to pass up on him based on both individual results and impact on the team.

Runners-up: Hamed Haddadi (Sichuan), Zou Yuchen (Bayi)

2015/2016 CBA Coach of the Year: Guo Shiqiang (Liaoning)

It’s hard to recover after a Finals loss where one of your staple players missed a key free throw. It’s hard to recover after failing to complete probably the greatest season you could have. It’s hard to recover after a slow start to this season adds up to everything else that doesn’t seem to click like it did just months ago.
You need to love and respect Hudson for coming back, for sticking with the team no matter what.
But coaches run teams, and to run a team going through so much and carve out a 17-game winning streak out of it is remarkable.
With the due respect and love for legendary coach Li Qiuping, for the multiple titles of Min Lulei and for the Guangdong Southern Tigers’ dynasty captained by Du Feng, Guo Shiqiang is the best coach in the CBA. Period.

Runners-up: Li Qiuping (Xinjiang), Yang Xuezeng (Sichuan)

2015/2016 First, Second and Third All-CBA Teams:

C Zhou Qi (Xinjiang)
F Michael Beasley (Shandong)
F Mike Harris (Sichuan)
G Willie Warren (Zhejiang)
G Lester Hudson (Liaoning)

C Hamed Haddadi (Sichuan)
F Yi Jianlian (Guangdong)
F Jamaal Franklin (Shanxi)
G Jordan Crawford (Tianjin)
G Jonathan Gibson (Qingdao)

C Esteban Batista (Beikong)
F Sani Sakakini (Tongxi)
F Fadi El Khatib (Fujian)
G Jeremy Pargo (Guangsha)
G MarShon Brooks (Jiangsu)

2015/2016 First and Second CBA All-Defensive Teams:

C Zhou Qi (Xinjiang)
F Zou Yuchen (Bayi)
F Alan Williams (Qingdao)
G Jamaal Franklin (Shanxi)
G Hu Xuefeng (Jiangsu)

C Hamed Haddadi (Sichuan)
F Sani Sakakini (Tongxi)
F Elijah Holman (Guangsha)
G Dominique Jones (Shanxi)
G Mehdi Kamrani (Beikong)

2015/2016 CBA All-Rookie Team:

C Esteban Batista (Beikong)
F Alan Williams (Qingdao)
F Jerrelle Benimon (Foshan)
G Jeremy Pargo (Guangsha)
G MarShon Brooks (Jiangsu)

P.s. to end this piece, I feel like I owe all of you readers some explanations. I have, truly, been away for a long time. The last article published here on Shotsuey! is almost a year old.
So, what happened?
For starters, I haven’t given up writing; far from it, actually, as I write for both Sheridan Hoops and my man and mentor Andrew Crawford over at Shark Fin Hoops. I am extremely fortunate to be where I am, free to write about whatever concerns Chinese Basketball without feeling restrained or censored in any way. I, of course, discuss CBA matters differently based on what platform I’m on, so you will see me write CBA stuff from more of an NBA fan perspective over at SH, while I keep a much more CBA and International focus when writing over at the Shark. I appreciate and treasure the variety of viewpoints required of me, as I probably wouldn’t have explored my interest in Chinese Basketball that deeply without external inputs like these.
As a result, however, my presence here on Shotsuey! has become sparse to say the least.
Believe it or not, it’s a good thing: I would have never started this blog if I’d had the mere goal of landing a job. Shotsuey! is and always has been a way of expressing my views, and everything I had to say.
Believe it or not friends, family and acquaintances can do little to quench your thirst to communicate when it comes to Chinese Basketball, even in a city like Milan that is far from desolate and lacking space for niche contents. As much as I loved and I still love all of them, they were never gonna help.
So here I was, talking to an average of 5 people on a lucky day about a league that most basketball fans either ignore or approach with a smirk on their face.
I felt as free as it comes.
The good news is as long as I’ll feel just as free to express my views as I felt when I started my little adventure here there will be few pieces here; I still have a couple pieces I’m working on here, mainly to cover up subjects I have no physical space to talk about elsewhere, and there are columns I just can’t move somewhere else because I know they just belong nowhere else but here (the guide to local players is probably my personal favorite here).
All the rest, as long as people can stand it, goes elsewhere.

And for that I thank all of you.

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