Tag Archives: David Harrison

CBA Round 4 Recap

November 30, 2011

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Two games, Zhejiang Chouzhou at Xinjiang and Bayi at Shanghai first postponed until Monday before finally being cancelled due to… fog. Yeah, fog. Urumqi’s world renowned heavy white stuff rolled into town on Saturday morning and didn’t leave until Monday morning. During that time, no planes were able to get in our out, which meant Bayi was stuck in Urumqi and Zhejiang was stuck at home.

Believe us, we’re just as disappointed about missing CBA hoops action as you are — a J.R. Smith-Kenyon Martin match-up at Hongshan more than made the list of our must-see games this season. No word has been given from the league about when the games will be made up. If everything goes to plan, the CBA will announce the make-up dates two hours in advance.

Beijing 101 – @ DongGuan – 100 (OT)

Beijing’s Randolph Morris used his patented coast-to-coast dribble drive to get all the way to the rim, draw a foul and convert both free-throws in the closing seconds of overtime to keep Beijing’s undefeated season alive. Morris finished with 26 points, 16 of which came from the charity stripe, and 21 rebounds. Stephon Marbury 25 points and 7 rebounds. Zhu Yanxi had 16. Beijing overcame 29-80 (36%) from the floor by converting on 33 of 40 free throw attempts. DongGuan shot 31 themselves, but only hit 19. No, not the best game we’ve ever seen.

Shavlik Randolph saw two 20s himself, 22 points and 20 rebounds. Josh Akognon was able to get out in transition a bit more and as a result had a more efficient game, going 7-11 from two and 3-8 from three for 25 points. DongGuan will be kicking themselves for losing an eight point lead with less than five minutes left.

Jon Pastuszek

 

 

Box Score

Shandong – 66 @ Jilin – 81

In sole possession of first place for the first time in franchise history heading into Round 4, the Gold Lions put up… 66 points on 34% from the field. Needless to say, they’re not in first place anymore. Alan Anderson lead the assault on the rims going 4-19. Othello Hunter had another double-double, 18 points and13 rebounds.

Jilin’s Osama Dahglas dimed out 11 assists and put up 12 points, while Cartier Martin had 21 points and seven boards. Key to the Northeast Tigers’ win was their success in limiting their opponent on the offensive glass. In Shandong’s four previous wins, they crashed the boards for 20 offensive rebounds. On Sunday, they only had 11. Yu Shulong continues to get his minutes yanked around. The Team China point guard only saw seven minutes of action, a stat that probably won’t please his summertime coach, Bob Donewald.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Fujian – 89 @ Jiangsu – 90

Jiangsu won at the buzzer on a run-of-the-mill side out of bounds alley-oop that was called good after Zaid Abbas was called for a goaltend on Yi Li’s mid-air lay-up attempt. Like we said, run-of-the-mill.

Mardy Collins, however, put up a not so run-of-the-mill stat line, stuffing the box score with 26 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists and 6 steals. More stuff like that will have Jiangsu thinking twice about cutting him. Then again, maybe not. Yi Li had 26 and 6 boards.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Tianjin – 105 @ Guangdong – 125

David Harrison’s return to Guangdong was as expected spoiled because he was in a Tianjin uniform. Harrison won a championship with the Southern Tigers in 2009-10 before breaking his fibula just a few games into the 2010-11 campaign. He finished with seven points and eight rebounds and seven turnovers of Tianjin’s 28 turnovers. Donnell Harvey had 28 and 10 rebounds.

Guangdong spread out their offense, getting seven guys in double figure scoring. Aaron Brooks played better in his second game, getting 14 points and seven assists. James Singleton continued his strong play with 21 and 15.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Qingdao – 110 @ Liaoning – 117

Josh Powell went 11-12 and hit 8-9 free throws to net a highly efficient 30 point and 10 rebound performance. Yang Ming added 26 points and 8 assists and Rodney Carney put in 15.

Jon Pastuszek

 

 

Box Score

 

Foshan – 99 @ Zhejiang Guangsha – 106

For a full in-depth analysis, read Edward Bothfeld’s recap written from Hangzhou.

Box Score

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CBA Round 3 Recap

November 27, 2011

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Beijing Shougang Ducks – 104 @ Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers – 92

Beijing used a 36 point fourth quarter to pull away from four-time defending champs Guangdong to come up with the CBA’s second eye-popping result of the season. Ji Zhe, Chen Lei, Stephon Marbury, Randolph Morris and Zhu Yanxi all hit double figures for the Ducks in a highly balanced attack that only turned the ball over eight times.

The win puts Beijing at 3-0, putting them in first place with Shandong.

But, while the Ducks were able to spread out the scoring, it was their defense that powered them to their stunning win. They held the Southern Tigers to just 37% shooting and forced 24 turnovers. In his Chinese debut, Aaron Brooks had only four points on 2-9 from the field. James Singleton was one of the lone bright spots, scoring 33 points on 13-17 from the field and grabbing 15 rebounds. Zhu Fangyu had 22.

Yi Jianlian went down with a knee injury in the third quarter. He is expected to be out for two to four weeks.

Jon Pastuszek

Qingdao Double Star Eagles – 101 @ Jilin Northeast Tigers – 104

A good, competitive game was spoiled in the end by… what else, refs. Down two and inbounding with 27 seconds left, Qingdao’s Wang Gang was called for a highly questionable offensive foul after he set a screen on Jilin’s Cartier Martin. The foul led to two free throws, which Jilin converted, and Qingdao was unable to come back.

Jilin overcame Martin’s first bad shooting night of his three game Chinese career behind a balanced scoring attack that saw five players in all hit double figure scoring. Osama Dahglas lead Jilin with a nice 19-10-8. Martin finished with 23 points on 8-23 shooting.

Qingdao’s Lester Hudson led all Round 3 scorers with 50. But as is typically the case for the Eagles, the Chinese players did not step up. Nobody scored more than nine points. Center Ivan Johnson ended with 21 points and 13 boards.

Jon Pastuszek

Bayi Fubang Rockets – 92 @ Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers – 111

Xinjiang put their shocking Round 2 loss against Shanxi behind them last night at Red Mountain Stadium, dispatching visiting Bayi with relative ease. Patty Mills looked terrific running the show for the Flying Tigers in his debut, finishing off with 26 points highly efficient points and 8 assists. Kenyon Martin terrorized the rims for five highlight-reel dunks, finishing the game with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists. Mengke Bateer added 15 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Tang Zhengdong chipped in with 12, which was enough to make him the sixth member of the CBA 7,000 career points club. He joins current players Bateer, Wang Zhizhi, Zhu Fangyu and retired players Li Nan Liu Yudong.

Bayi shot over 50% from the field, but 23 turnovers and an astounding -17 on the offensive glass were more than enough to do them in. Xu Zhonghao led the Rockets with 20 and Zhang Bo had 18.

Quincy Douby’s season ending injury exposed Xinjiang’s lack of depth at the point guard position. Mills will take most of the minutes at that position, but the team should feel better about the backup spot with the emergence of Ge Yang, who came over to the team two weeks ago via the CBA’s short-term transfer draft. Ge started the first quarter and was solid, keeping his turnovers down and getting the team into the offense. But, that’s secondary to the arrival of Mills, who looked really, really good in the 26 minutes he was on the court. He’s got the jets to blow by people in this league, as evidenced by his eight free throw attempts, but he’s also got a nice in between game, using pull ups, step backs and floaters from mid-range. He’s also a heck of a passer and an especially good alley-oop thrower, the latter of which will be music to K-Mart’s high-flying ears.

Jon Pastuszek

Shanghai Dongfang Sharks – 98 @ Foshan Dralions – 102

Shanghai went 0-3 with guess what, another last gasp loss in a game they were competitive in until the last few moments! Liu Wei put up 30 points and Mike Harris and Peng Fei were also full of endeavor in a gritty, tough game where neither team looked like they could take control of the game.
Foshan had the ace in the pack in Gerald Green, who implausibly became invincible for the night after two games of not really doing much, dropping 41 points including eight from downtown and had the home crowd on their feet in the final quarter when he mixed a clutch three-pointer with a swaggering dunk to help his side come back from a deficit to win the game. 
Shanghai could and should have closed out the game and will be kicking themselves that they didn’t. Wilson Chandler and the national media is coming to watch Shanghai on Wednesday. This was not the best way to prepare such a visit.

Andrew Crawford

Fujian SBS Sturgeons – 98 @ Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls – 113

Once again Josh Boone was somehow The Man for Zhejiang, making an astounding 17-19 from the floor for 40 points as the Golden Bulls eased past Fujian with J.R. Smith putting up 20 points and four assists in another under-the-radar performance. Small forward Zhang Chunjun played nicely in a supporting role, totaling 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Anthony Roberson made 45 points for Fujian including seven three-pointers and six rebounds in feisty, volume shooting performance (28 shots) that kept the score respectable. But ultimately the game belong to Zhejiang who did what they needed to do infront of their home fans.

Andrew Crawford

Zhejiang Guangsha Lions – 89 @ Shandong Kingston Gold Lions – 97

Shandong continued their surprising ascension to the top of the standings by winning their third straight game, defeating Guangsha at home. Othello Hunter went off for 27 points and 19 rebounds, eight of which came on the offensive end. Shandong ended +13 on the offensive boards. Sun Jie went 6-11 from three to finish with 24 points. Alan Anderson had 15.

For Guangsha, it was once again the Wilson Chandler show. He scored 42 points and snatched 10 boards. But no one else for the Lions hit double figure scoring, a fact that has to be troubling for head coach Jim Cleamons. Dwyane Jones continued his brutal play on the offensive end, only managing six points.

While Chandler is putting up monster numbers, Guangsha should be concerned about the lack of production from its other players. Jones is on the way out for a center that will be able to score better. But having the ball in Chandler’s hands all the time is not good for the team offense because he’s not good at creating shots for other guys. This league has never seen a player this versatile and this skilled on the offensive end, and he will continue to give opposing team nightmares in that department. But, if Guangsha is going to become a top tier team, they’re going to have to figure out a way to let other people, most notably Lin Chih-chieh, some more good looks at the basket.

Jon Pastuszek

Liaoning Jiebao – 76 @ Tianjin Ronggang Golden Lions – 93

Tianjin continues to prove the NiuBBall pre-season last place prognostications wrong with their second win of the young season, this one at the hands of Liaoning. Rony Fahed, who looked so bad in the pre-season, continued his strong play, tallying 27 points and 8 assists. David Harrison, who didn’t look much better, appears to be in shape and recovered from the broken fibula that ended his season prematurely last season. He went off for 15 and 19, while Donnell Harvey had 22 points and a quiet (for him) 8 boards.

If Tianjin can continue to get production from their three imports and some added scoring from Zhang Nan (15 points), then they are a possible playoff candidate potential middle of the pack team. Sorry, got carried away with myself for a minute. Hey — they’re not as bad as I thought they’d be.

DongGuan New Century Leopards – 96 @ Jiangsu Nangang Dragons – 103

DongGuan on the other hand, is worse than I thought they’d be. They go to 0-3 after losing on the road at Jiangsu.

The Leopards are in a tough predicament. The position they relied on to facilitate the entire offense, center (via Jackson Vroman), is being occupied by Shavlik Randolph. Anyone who’s watched Shav, whether in his Duke days or in his NBA journeyman days, knows that he’s not a tremendous creator. And that’s affecting everyone, from Zhang Kai to Josh Akognon, who has really struggled with shot his shot selection and his shot making. Brian Goorjian is a tremendous teacher and coach, but I’m beginning to wonder about his ability as a personnel guy. He’s whiffed hard on his last two import selections, Courtney Sims when he was brought in to replace Jackson in the playoffs, and now Randolph.

With a young roster and a pair of imports who don’t seem to blend well together, it could be a long season for DongGuan.

Jon Pastuszek

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2011-2012 CBA Preview

November 20, 2011

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J.R. Smith is just one of many reasons why people are more excited than ever to watch the CBA this season.

Technically, the 2011-12 regular season started tonight. Paced by Othello Hunter’s 11 points and 21 rebounds The visiting Shandong Golden Bulls took out the Foshan Dralions in front of a national audience, 93-79.

Normally, that’d take some of the shine off of fresh off the press 2011-12 CBA preview. Thing is though, this preview is anything but normal.

For your viewing pleasure, we’re not only previewing every single team for the new season, we’re putting in a power rankings, too. Yeah — there’s almost 6,000 English words on Chinese basketball in this beast. We don’t want to toot our own horns or anything, but we think that’s got to be a record.

Read it all at once right now, print it out and take it on the go, or break it all up into easy to manage blocks. And as always, if you have any questions, hit up the comments.

Throughout the season, we’ll be updating the power rankings, probably every Monday.

Note: *Indicates an import who is playing his first season in the CBA.

1. Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers
2010-11 record: 25-7 (2nd place, won CBA Championship)
Head Coach: Li Chunjiang (5th year)
Imports: James Singleton, Aaron Brooks*

Rule number one of NiuBBall Chinese Basketball Association power rankings: The champs are put at the top at the beginning of the year — no matter what other teams with Tigers for mascots have done in the off-season.

So like they would have been for the past four years, Guangdong starts the season in pole position. And that decision isn’t solely based on the fact that their reigning champs. As it stands right now, they’re also a lot more talented than they were last year, primarily thanks to an ongoing labor dispute in America.

No team has benefited more from the NBA lockout than Guangdong, who have bolstered their already championship-caliber roster with not one but two players who played in the League last season.

Both will be very familiar to China. After spending five years in the States, Yi Jianlian, has returned to his hometown squad that raised him from youth. Having clearly emerged as the leader of the post-Yao Team China setup at the FIBA Asia Championship this summer in Wuhan, Yi returns to China playing perhaps the best ball of his career. Unlike other NBA-to-CBA hoopers, Ah Lian has a special out-clause that will allow him a free passage back to America if/when the lockout ends.

Joining him will be another lockout casualty, Aaron Brooks, who according to Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reportedly committed to joining Guangdong cause.

But, wait! There’s more recognizable faces heading to southern China — after helping Guangdong overcome Xinjiang in six games in the Finals, the team says goodbye to both Lester Hudson and Marcus Haislip, and hello to the guy they were game-planning against, James Singleton. A rugged player whose willing to sacrifice his own numbers for wins, Singleton will be a good fit next to Guangdong’s prolific roster. Besides making for good basketball, his move down south also adds an extra element to the Xinjiang-Guangdong rivalry, which in our eyes is the best in CBA history.

You should know the rest of the roster by now: Wang Shipeng, Zhu Fangyu, Zhou Peng and Su Wei comprise the team’s core of National Teamers that give them the match-up edge against virtually every team in the league.

If there’s any bones to pick against Guangdong this year, its that there may be too much talent. How a low-percentage chucker like Brooks will mesh with China’s laoda, Yi, and the team’s other Chinese players is a question that is on our minds heading into the season. Brooks will have his 40 point games, but as Guangdong has built its championship formula around its Chinese players, is he really what the team needs?

In any case, just mark Guangdong as a lock to be back in the Finals this year. As to who they’ll face, well that’s pretty much a lock, too…

Jon Pastuszek

2. Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers
2010-11 record: 31-1 (1st place, lost in Finals to Guangdong)
Head Coach: Bob Donewald Jr. (3rd year)
Imports: Kenyon Martin*, Quincy Douby**

What do you do if you’re a basketball-infatuated billionaire owner who’s team has lost in the Finals the last three years in a row? You spend close to USD $10 million in the summer to make sure that losing streak doesn’t become four in a row.

How do you spend 10 mil in the Chinese Basketball Association, you ask? You start by bringing in the head coach of the Chinese National Team and noted CBA miracle worker, Bob Donewald Jr.

What could have been: Douby and K-Mart chat during practice pre-Douby wrist-break.

Donewald, who rose to the top of Team China after leading the Yao Ming-owned Shanghai Sharks from the depths of bankruptcy to a magical semi-finals run in 2009, will now be aiming to rise to the top of the CBA in Urumqi, where expectations reside somewhere between championship and championship. If you don’t believe that, think about the guy who he replaces, Jiang Xingquan; he only went 31-1 last regular season. Having spent all this money, there is no room for failure now.

If there’s anyone who’s up for the task though, its Donewald, who had to deal with the “win, or else” pressure that was placed upon him this summer in Wuhan, and media firestorm that came with it. The regular season is just a prelude to a Finals match-up against Guangdong, and the team’s result in that series will determine the success of the season.

Coaches need players to coach, though. And good thing for Donewald, Xinjiang added some good ones. Former NBA number one overall pick, Kenyon Martin, was signed in September to the richest contract in franchise history. He may not score 30 a night, but he won’t need to either — unleashing K-Mart inside an arena near you will be more than enough to deter opponents from even venturing into the lane. Simply China has never seen that type of defensive intensity. While J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler will be making headlines for their offensive outbursts, expect Martin to make his mark on the winning end of the court, the defensive side.

Xinjiang also added three domestic players who will play a large role in determining the result of this season. Former three-time MVP, Tang Zhengdong, who’s been wanting to get out Jiangsu since forever, finally got his wish. Though not what he once was when he was with Jiangsu back in the mid-2000s, he’ll be a load for opposing second units to handle when he subs in for current three-time reigning MVP, Mengke Bateer.

Chao Yonggang, a sharp shooting small forward who played with Foshan last year, was also signed for a large transfer fee. The team has big expectations for him: He’s been playing as a starter during pre-season games. China U-23 Olympic Team member, Meng Duo, who has been with DongGuan New Century since his teenage years, has been brought over on a two-year loan. A six-foot guard, Meng is an athletic and capable player who will be relied upon to provide scoring off the bench.

Keep in mind, though: This is a team that lost one game last regular season. There’s still a lot of veteran talent on this team. Bateer is the best Chinese big man in the league and will continue to be a rock inside for the Flying Tigers. Local product, 20 year-old Xirelijiang, spent the entire summer under Donewald with the National Team and looks primed to improve on last year’s promising campaign. The Mai Brothers combo will be short one after Maiwulan went to Foshan via the short-term transfer draft, but Maierdan will be back to smash heads/get called for moving screens under the basket.

There is bad news, though. Xinjiang’s title hopes took a hit when arguably the best import in league history, Quincy Douby, suffered a broken left wrist during a pre-season match last Sunday. Douby has already returned to the States and undergone surgery and it appears that the team is looking at other options to replace him.

Whether they choose to wait it out until he’s healthy or they go with a replacement player right away, Xinjiang will have a healthy and supremely talented import guard at the end of the year to play alongside K-Mart, Bateer and sons. So start getting ready now for Guangdong – Xinjiang, part III.

Jon Pastuszek

3. Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls

2010-11 record: 18-14 (6th place, lost to DongGuan in first round)
Head Coach: Ding Wei (2nd year)
Imports: J.R. Smith*, Josh Boone

Based in the sock capital of the world, Yiwu, the Golden Bulls enjoyed moderate success last season with Marcus Williams and Josh Boone as the focal points of the team. They got off to a slow 2-7 start with Mike James, but finished the year 17-6 once Marcus Williams came over as a replacement. Williams’ dominance ended in the playoffs though, and with it so did Chouzhou’s run as they suffered a disappointing first round playoff sweep at the hands of Jiangsu.

During the off-season, Chouzhou let go of Marcus Williams and made what might be the biggest acquisition in the CBA by signing former Denver Nuggets guard J.R. Smith. If Marcus Williams could average nearly 30 points a game for Chouzhou, the sky is the limit for Smith, who is one of the best pure scorers in the world. He possesses unbelievable range on his beautiful jump shot and has incredible athleticism that allows him to finish above the rim. With the Nuggets, he was relegated to the sixth man role due to the presence of Carmelo Anthony and his head-scratching shot selection. This won’t be the case with Chouzhou, where he will have the green light as the first, second, and third option.

Alongside Smith will be veteran big man Josh Boone, who is be entering his second season with the Cyclones. Boone is an athletic shot blocker who lacks a refined offensive game. He scores most of his points off of put-backs and broken plays. With J.R. Smith commanding so much defensive attention, Boone should enjoy a productive season on the offensive end. Ding Jinhui has been a National Team regular since Donewald took the reigns for his non-stop motor, and he’s one of the better Chinese forwards in the league.  The Golden Bulls’ success rests on the shoulders of Smith and Boone; if they can get their role players involved, the victories should add up.

Edward Bothfeld

4. Jiangsu Nangang Dragons

2010-11 record: 19-12 (4th place, lost to Xinjiang in semi-finals)
Head Coach: Xu Qiang (13th year)
Imports: Dan Gadzuric*, Luther Head*

The Jiangsu Nangang Dragons are coming off another successful season in which they finished with the fourth best regular season record and an appearance in the semi-finals. With three returning starters and two new imports, the Dragons have a good chance of replicating last year’s success.

Jiangsu's Yi Li took a big step forward this summer with his strong performance for the National Team at the FIBA Asia Championship.

Although he may still be fighting jetlag during the home opener, Luther Head is a capable combo guard who might excel in the CBA’s style of play. He is mostly known for his shooting abilities, but if Head can find some success driving to the hoop and keep defenders honest, he could be in for a big season. While Head makes plays on the perimeter, nine-year NBA veteran Dan Gadzuric will be doing dirty work in the paint. Known for his defensive presence and ability to run the floor, Gadzuric is limited on offense, where he has difficulty creating for himself.

Even with the loss of their force in the middle, three-time CBA MVP, Tang Zhengdong, who was sold to Xinjiang, Jiangsu still has the solid core of Chinese players that have made Jiangsu a perennial threat. The spindly Yi Li, who had a strong showing for the National Team as their sixth man at the Asia Championship this summer, will be asked to play a more prominent role now that Tang is gone. Fan favorite Hu Xuefeng will continue to be ageless at the point guard position and Meng Da, though also getting up there in age, should average double figures in scoring once again.

The culture of winning cannot be understated, and NiuBBall believes Jiangsu will be heading back to playoffs for a ninth straight year.

Edward Bothfeld and Jon Pastuszek

5. Zhejiang Guangsha Lions
2010-11 record: 18-14 (6th place, lost to DongGuan in first round)
Head Coach: Jim Cleamons (1st year)
Imports: Wilson Chandler*, Dwyane Jones 

Hangzhou is home to the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions, a usually mediocre team that annually flirts with being among the CBA’s elite. For the past three seasons, the team has revolved around big man P.J. Ramos, otherwise known as “The Puerto Rican King” (at least that’s what the large tattoo on his wrist says). Ramos enjoyed some success with Guangsha, but after finishing last year with an 18-14 record and a first round playoff exit, the club’s management decided to make drastic changes, and during the off-season they overhauled their roster and coaching staff in an attempt to permanently join the upper-echelon of teams.

In comes Coach Jim Cleamons, who is by far the most experienced and heralded NBA coach in the CBA. He has spent the majority of his coaching career as an assistant in the league under Phil Jackson. He has over a decade of experience teaching some of the most talented players of all time – Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal. In his basketball career, he has won a staggering ten championships – ten as a coach and one as a player. Guangsha is hoping Cleamons’ leadership and addiction to winning will transform the Lions into a championship contender.

However, a coach cannot win games by himself. Fortunately for Cleamons, Guangsha was also able to sign Wilson Chandler. Standing at a broad 6-8 (208 cm), Chandler has spent his NBA career with the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets. He possesses a unique skill-set with his ability to shoot from long range and use his size to score inside, thus making him difficult to defend. Look for Cleamons to make Chandler the focal point of the team, and for him to average around thirty points a game.

During training camp, the Lions suffered a significant setback. To complement Chandler, they had recruited fellow NBA star, Earl Clark. After arriving in Hangzhou, Clark received the wonderful news that his girlfriend was pregnant and understandably returned home. With Clark gone, Guangsha turned to former NBA player, Dwayne Jones. While he is not nearly as talented as Clark, he is tall (211 cm), has already spent a year playing professionally in China for Foshan, and is a capable post defender and rebounder.

Expectations are high, but with Chandler filling up the box score, Jones doing the dirty work, a talented supporting cast led by Taiwanese National Lin Chih-Chieh, and Jim Cleamons roaming the sidelines, the Lions should be in for a successful and winning season.

Edward Bothfeld

6. Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons

2010-11 record: 15-17 (9th place)
Head Coach: Yang Xuezeng (2nd year)
Imports: Marcus Williams, Charles Gaines

As Jim Yardley’s new book on Shanxi will tell us when it his stores in February next year, it’s probably pretty stupid to bet on a team that is owned by a raging lunatic. Still, there’s enough talent here — both American and Chinese — to convince us that this team can overcome that to make the playoffs.

Let’s start with the U.S. guys. After trying to sign Kobe Bryant to a one-month deal before the CBA squashed that idea, Shanxi made two sound decisions in the import market by signing China old-hands Marcus Williams and Charles Gaines. Williams made everyone look really stupid for passing him up at the beginning of the year when he came over to Zhejiang Chouzhou mid-season as a replacement for Mike James. His one man band show that culminated with four straight triple-doubles to end the regular season, parading the Golden Bulls to a playoff birth, and an appearance on the NiuBBall.com All-CBA First Team. Boasting the best all-around game in China, there’s no reason for us to believe he shouldn’t be there again this year.

Gaines is no slouch either. Two years ago for Xinjiang, he averaged over 30 points a game, and last year he led the league with 33.7 per contest on top of 13.5 rebounds. Yet, he remains most famous for slapping the eff out of Du Feng in the 2010 CBA Finals. And probably rightfully so. But Gaines, who was also a NiuBBall.com First Teamer last year, in combination with Williams will probably be famous this season because he’ll be part of one of the most potent import duos in the league this year.

On the Chinese side, swingman Duan Jiangpeng is coming off a strong summer that saw him suit up for the China Under-23 Olympic Team before earning a brief call-up to the Senior National Team. His Brave Dragon teammate, Zhang Xuewen, also averaged double-figures for the Brave Dragons last year and is another young piece expected to help the playoff cause.

If there is one weakness with this team — besides their bumbling mad owner — it’s that this team lacks a point-guard. Williams, who excels when the ball is in his hands, may be enough to compensate for that though. This is a team with a ton of talent and they should make the playoffs, despite an owner that made the late George Steinbrenner seem like Abe Polin.

Jon Pastuszek

7. Liaoning Jiebao Innovators

2010-11 record: 14-18 (10th place)
Head coach: Guo Shiqiang (6th year)
Imports: Rodney Carney, Josh Powell

The normally relevant Liaoning PanPan Dinosaurs were anything but last season, finishing with an unimpressive 14-18 record. Their struggles could be mainly attributed to the poor play from any of the four imports they put on the court during the year, Donta Smith, Anthony Myles, Myles McKay and Chris Richard.

This season, however, could be different. In fact, it’s already different — at least in name. Provincially-owned Liaoning dropped their longtime shareholder sponsor, PanPan Doors, turned around and bought the club themselves. Once dubbed the PanPan Dinosaurs, Liaoning is now the Jiebao (a car company)… Innovators? The name of the team in Chinese is 前瞻, which according to nciku.com means “to look ahead; to forecast.” I don’t think the Liaoning Weathermen sounds very good, so I went with “innovators.” That is very likely 100% wrong. If you know their name in English — if they have one — holler at us in the comments.

It also could be different, because Liaoning looks pretty darn good on paper. Overpowering every other storyline is the return of guard Zhang Qingpeng, who is back after a one-year loan to Xinjiang. A common sight on Team China a few years ago, Zhang has fallen out of favor with Donewald’s National Team. But he’s on the short list of top Chinese guards in the league, and his accuracy from the outside will be a big boost for the team this year.

Former L.A. Laker and two-time NBA champion, Josh Powell, and NBA journeyman Rodney Carney have joined the Hunters. Together, they are hoping to kick start a Liaoning revival (they were finalists in 2008). With poor ball-handling skills, Carney is reliant on his leaping ability and athleticism on the offensive end. The game needs to be played at a frenetic pace for him to be effective. While Powell has size – 6’9 and 240 lbs — he isn’t a banger and gets most of his buckets on midrange jumpers.

Up front, Liaoning can play with anyone. 6-9 power forward Li Xiaoxu played at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey. 7-1 Han Dejun, participated in all-you-can-eat pork dumplings competition in Liaoning last year. OK that’s a joke, but the 300+ pound puffer can play a little bit, even if his body weight only allows him to play in short bursts.

If the Innovators can get consistent play from youngster Guo Ailun, one of China’s best prospects at the point-guard position, they’re headed back to the post-season.

Edward Bothfeld and Jon Pastuszek

8. Beijing Shougang Ducks

2010-11 record: 16-16 (8th place)
Head Coach: Min Lulei (14th year)
Imports: Stephon Marbury, Randolph Morris

Like NiuBBall, Starbury is way down with Beijing and Niu Bi.

Stephon Marbury says he’s been happy in China since signing with Shanxi in 2010. That’s impressive given who he’s played for and the cities he’s called home the last two seasons, Taiyuan, Shanxi and Foshan, Guangdong.

Now in Beijing for his third season, Marbury, who had his own feature in China Daily two days ago, is even happier.

Ducks fans should be happier, too. China likes themeslves some Marbury, but it seems that Beijing, who has taken to the Coney Islander with even more reverence, likes him the most. And that was before he officially signed for them in the off-season.

Partered up with Randolph Morris, who put up huge numbers for the Ducks last year, fans are going to like what they see at Shougang Arena this season. Neither have ever played in China with a better import, and seeing how both of them were pretty good on their own last year, logic would suggest that they’ll be pretty good together.

The one concern for Beijing this year is the loss of their Asian import, Zaid Abbas. The tireless forward ran circles around opponents last year rebounding, defending and picking up garbage points. Because there are no rules that restrict Asian import players’ playing time, Abbas is one of the most valuable players in the league and Beijing will definitely miss him.

But, is the loss of Abbas really going to affect the Ducks that much? After all, Beijing snuck into the eight spot last season, despite playing a good portion of the year with only one American. (Steve Francis, that was totally on you, man.) Pint-sized Taiwanese point-guard, Lee Hsueh-lin, likes to push the pace and find open teammates, and him and Marbury will be sharing the same backcourt most of the time. Forward Chen Lei is a good all-around player, and “The Journalist,” Ji Zhe, is a big man who can stretch defenses out with his outside shooting.

I think Abbas’ departure is a big blow, but with two Americans playing alongside what basically amounts to the same roster as last season, the Ducks will be in the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Jon Pastuszek

9. Jilin GBT Northeast Tigers

2010-11 record: 12-20 (13th place)
Head coach: Wang Han
Imports: Cartier Martin*, Jameel Watkins, Osama Dahglas (Asian import)

Unlike our good friend Guan Weijia over at Sheridan Hoops, I’m not hopping on the Jilin post-season express right now. But, get back to me in a few weeks and see what I say then, because Jilin definitely has a ton of potential.

Why? The Northeast Tigers are simply loaded in the backcourt with Dahglas, Martin and Yu Shulong, who has spent considerable time with the National Team over the last two summers. Dahglas, who starts at point for the Jordanian National Team, played well for Shanxi last year. With Daghlas, you know what you’re getting — a good playmaker at the point-guard position who is looking to get in the lane and dish to teammates. But he’s not much of a scorer and that’s where Martin will come in. He didn’t get too much run for them, but some people liked him when he was with the Wizards and he should have a big year scoring the ball in this league.

Up front, Jameel Watkins comes back for his second season with Jilin and his fourth overall in the CBA. The 34 year-old isn’t going to put the ball in the hoop too much, but he protects the paint well and rebounds the ball. With Martin doing most of the scoring, they won’t need him to do much else. Zhong Cheng played with the Chinese U-23 Team this summer.

Since the Asian import rule was implemented in 2009, one team has gone from bottom four to the playoffs each season. Of all the teams who qualify for an extra foreigner, Jilin has the best chance to be the third.

Jon Pastuszek

10. Bayi Fubang Rockets

2010-11 record: 17-15 (7th place)
Head Coach: Adijiang (10th year)
Imports: None

You probably know them as the guys who went WWF on the Georgetown Hoyas last August in Beijing. But, in China, they’re mainly known as the team that always wins. If the NiuBBall prophecy is indeed true, however, and the Bayi Rockets do miss the playoffs this year, it will end a 50+ year reign of dominance over Chinese basketball.

Like many people, including a growing number of Chinese, we won’t be needing any tissues when it happens.

Protectors of the old guard, Bayi is primed to miss the playoffs for the first time since the CBA was founded in 1996. Like always, the team that represents the People’s Liberation Army is devoid of any foreigners and will go into battle with a roster comprised entirely of Chinese players. Most famous, of course, is Wang Zhizhi, who will creak into his 15th professional basketball season, his 12th in CBA. The spindly left-hander is running on his last legs — the 2012 London Olympics will be his last international competition for China — and though he’s still capable of throwing up 20-30 points in a game, his best days are way behind him.

That’s not a good thing for the Rockets, who have rode Wang to eight championships since he made his debut in 1995-96. While all solid in their own right, Mo Ke, Zhang Bo and Wang Lei aren’t centerpieces, which means once again the burden will be placed on an aging center who’s played year-round for 15 straight years.

With their superior height advantages all over the court, Bayi will present match-up problems against smaller teams. And like every year, they’ll still get great whistles at home, even when they’re playing bad. Bayi could sneak into the playoffs — especially if the CBA decides that the league still needs soldiers playing under the bright lights — but, I think this is the end of the road for the Rockets as we know them.

Jon Pastuszek

11. DongGuan New Century Leopards
2010-11 record: 25-7 (3rd place)
Head coach: Brian Goorjian (2nd year)
Imports: Josh Akognon, Shavlik Randolph*

The CBA is rarely surprising, which is why DongGuan was such a refreshing team to watch last season. Put under the control of longtime Australian National Team head coach, Brian Goorjian, DongGuan exceeded all pre-season expectations to go 25-7 in the regular season. Goorjian arrived in the spring right after the 2009-10 season and went straight to work on improving the team’s defense. Centering both the offense and defense around Jackson Vroman, whose mobility, passing and versatility made him a organizer and facilitator on both ends, and leaning on Nigerian-American, Josh Akognon, to light the scoreboard from three point-line, the Leopards were able to overcome a young and inexperienced roster to go all the way to the semi-finals, where they lost to eventual champion, Guangdong.

Thing is though, maybe they could have done better. Jackson went down with a fractured hand just before the playoffs and with it, so did DongGuan’s fairy tale season. Was it always unlikely that they were going to beat their DongGuan neighbors? Yes, but it would have been a much more competitive series.

This year, Goorjian is back, but Jackson has left for the Korean Basketball League. Akognon, who took more threes than anyone last year, is also back for another season. He’ll be joined by Shavlik Randolph, has been in-and-out of the NBA the last five years since leaving early from Duke in 2005.

With Goorjian, one of the best coaches in Asia, DongGuan will always be well prepared and will thus win games against teams with more talent. Last year, veterans Zhang Kai and Qiu Biao played arguably the best basketball of their career under him. But, what was already a young team got even younger with the departure of Meng Duo, who went to Xinjiang. Goorjian himself has said that this season is more about the development of DongGuan’s set of promising youngsters Li Muhao, Gu Quan and Sun Tonglin, and not so much about wins.

They’ll take a step backward with the loss of Vroman. But, with Goorjian still at the helm, DongGuan will never be an easy game for opponents and they may even sneak into the playoffs, despite their step back in talent from last year.

Jon Pastuszek

12. Fujian SBS Sturgeons
2010-11 record: 8-24 (16th place)
Head Coach: Joseph Stiebing (1st year)
Imports: Will McDonald, Anthony Roberson*, Zaid Abbas (Asian import)

Zaid Abbas has turned around both Shanghai and Beijing in the two years he's played in the CBA.

The Sturgeons will be happy with any improvements after a pathetic 8-24 record during the 2011 season. As a cellar dweller (bottom four teams), they were eligible to find a third Asian foreign import. Jordan National Zaid Abbas, who is no stranger to turning teams around, will serve as their third import alongside Anthony Roberson and Will McDonald. This will be Abbas’ third stint as the third import for struggling teams, but his previous two teams, Shanghai and Beijing, both improved dramatically with his addition. He doesn’t have a single skill that stands out, but his scrappy play and hustle are infectious.

If Fujian has any hope for a winning season, Abbas will need some help from Anthony Roberson and Will McDonald, who are probably among the least known imports in the CBA. Roberson is a streaky, shoot-first point guard who has occasional lapses on the defensive end. The 32 year-old McDonald has spent the majority of his career playing in Europe and will struggle against the likes of Josh Boone, Randolph Morris, and Kenyon Martin.

Edward Bothfeld 

13. Shandong Kingston Golden Lions
2010-11 record: 14-18 (11th place)
Head Coach: Gong Xiaobin (8th year)
Imports: Alan Anderson*, Othello Hunter*

Last year, Shandong replaced their longtime head coach, Gong Xiaobin, with Bob Weiss, who had coached Shanxi the year before and the Seattle Supersonics before that. Keeping it going with American CBA veterans, Shandong then went with two imports with China experience, Myron Allen and Rodney White.

The end result was not what they were hoping for: 14-18, 11th place.

This season, Shandong is going back with Gong on the bench, but they’re treading in uncharted import territory. Michigan State product, guard Alan Anderson, will mark the beginning of his Chinese career this year, as will power forward, Othello Hunter. Anderson has an impressive resume that includes stints the Charlotte Bobcats, FC Barcelona and Macabbi Tel Aviv. Hunter spent two years with the Atlanta Hawks from 2008-10. Last year he played for Dinamo Basket Sassari in Italy.

The rest we know: Sun Jie is thwacking threes and losing his hair, Sui Ran is flopping all over the place and pissing people off in between the occasional nice drive to the rack, and Ding Yanyuhang is a promising player with a really long name.

Behind Anderson, who I think will do well here, Shandong could be a dangerous match-up against the CBA’s middling teams. But, a lack of dependable Chinese to flank him will once again hold the Golden Lions back from a playoff spot.

Jon Pastuszek

14. Qingdao Double Star Eagles
2010-11 record: 10-22 (15th place)
Head Coach: Zhang Zhengxiu (2nd year)
Imports: Lester Hudson, Peter John Ramos, Sakakini Sani* (Asian import)

Qingdao recovered from their silly initial decision to sign Jarron Collins by first cutting him, and then signing combo guard Lester Hudson. Ike Diogu was on the radar at one point, but the team ultimately settled on 7-3 monster Peter John Ramos, who has spent the last three years with Zhejiang Guangsha.

If the Eagles can get a good big who can score to place alongisde Hudson, then I kind of like this team. Especially when the team’s Asian import, Jordanian forward Sakakini Sani, who played well in China’s second-tier professional league, the National Basketball League, this summer. Though not incredibly skilled, the 6-8 Sani has a big frame which he frequently uses to move bodies under the basket. He’s not on the level of Abbas, but he should have a solid year here playing as many minutes as his coach wants him to.

One cool thing about this team is that their head coach is Korean and the only non-American foreign coach in the league.

Part of me wants to put this team up further because of their nice trio of foreigners, but this squad’s Chinese roster is just too poor. Swingman Li Gen, who averaged a touch over 10 points a game last  year, is the only one I’d tell my friends about. Wang Gang moves to the coast from Shandong, and he’ll step into the point-guard slot. I guess I’ll have to go against impulse and instead settle with merely labeling the Eagles as a potential sleeper.

15. Shanghai Dongfang Sharks
2010-11 record: 12-20 (12th place)
Head Coach: Daniel Panaggio (1st year)
Imports: Mike Harris, Ryan Forehan-Kelly

After a failed attempt to sign with Shanghai last year, Taiwanese national Tseng Wen-ting is finally all set to go in China.

It is now ten years since the Sharks last finished as CBA champions and it remains to be seen if the notoriously fickle Shanghanese will pay much attention to the Sharks now that the days of Yao Ming averaging thirty-points a game seem so far away. These days, the shadow of Yao quite literally hovers over the Sharks team as the now-retired, newly-repatriated Chinese icon watches over the team he famously rescued from bankruptcy in 2009.

The 2011 side is very much one in transition as the Sharks adjust to life without the influential John Lucas III and the popular coach, Bob Donewald. The new man at the helm, former D-League coach, Daniel Panaggio, has arrived with intentions of utilizing the triangle offense, something that has taken a bit of getting used to. Panaggio’s hiring also coincides with the arrivals of Ryan Forehan-Kelly, who previously played for the Jiangsu Dragons in 2007-08, and Taiwanese forward, Tseng Wen-ting, both of whom featured prominently in the Sharks’ final pre-season games in Zhejiang province. Tseng’s addition will be particularly welcome — he was supposed to come over last year, but the deal fell apart after the transfer deadline passed.

Predicting how the Sharks’ will do this season very much depends on how full or empty your glass generally tends to be. Cynics will point to the departure of Donewald and lack of big name signings as symptomatic of the club’s lack of ambition. Those of a more positive persuasion can get excited about a new coach bringing fresh ideas to a side that already boasts experienced veterans like Liu Wei and Mike Harris as well as up-and-coming Chinese internationals, “Max” Zhang Zhaoxu, Peng Fei and Zhou Zhang. A mid table finish is the most likely outcome, anything higher would be a decidedly unexpected bonus.

Andrew Crawford 

16. Guangdong Foshan Dralions
2010-11 record: 11-21 (14th place)
Head coach: Jay Humphries (2nd year)
Imports: Marcus Douthit*, Gerald Green*, Michael Maadanly (Asian import)

Gerald Green will be bummed to know that the Chinese don’t typically do cupcakes.

–Jon Pastuszek

17. Tianjin Ronggang Gold Lions
2010-11 record: 5-27 (17th place)
Head Coach: Zhang Jian (11th year)
Imports: David Harrison, Donnell Harvey, Rony Fahed (Asian import)

After finishing at the bottom of the league last year, Tianjin opted not to retain American head coach, Bob MacKinnon Jr., instead going with the guy who coached them in 2009-10, Zhang Jian. They also decided against bringing back NiuBBall.com CBA Defensive Player of the Year, American guard Vernon Hamilton, despite his string of strong performances to end the year.

Instead they went with a familiar strategy — going with two big men as their Americans. Last year it was Lee Benson and Herve Lamizana, this year its David Harrison and Donnell Harvey. They used their Asian import spot on Lebanese point guard, Rony Fahed. If they’re lucky, they may get 40 points a night out of the three. Harrison is not even one year removed from a broken fibula and hasn’t looked good in pre-season games. Harvey, who enjoyed two great seasons for Jiangsu in 2008-09 and 2009-10, will do what he does best, attacking the offensive glass, but isn’t someone who they’ll be able to throw the ball into on the low block.

With their poor choices in the foreign market and their deplorable Chinese roster, look for Tianjin to once again finish at the bottom of the league.

–Jon Pastuszek

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Monday Afternoon Tanghulu

May 2, 2011

2 Comments

Sweetening up your afternoon with a stick of Beijing’s timeless sugar coated snack and some links…
  • Guangdong’s general manager, Liu Hongjia, on the Stephon Marbury rumors: “To tell you the truth, we still don’t know the if the league’s policy for signing foreign players next year is going to change or not.  Right now, talking about anything to do with Marbury is unreasonable.  Internally, we’re definitely going to re-sign [David] Harrison.  We need to see if Foshan is willing to give up their priority signing power, as well as Marbury’s asking price is.”
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Jason Dixon Interview

April 24, 2011

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Simply put, there are few Americans in the world better qualified to talk about Chinese basketball than Jason Dixon.   Spending a total of 10 seasons with the Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers from 1998-2001 and 2003-2009, Dixon helped Guangdong to five CBA titles before having his #15 retired in December 2008.  To date, only one other player, Shanghai’s Yao Ming, has had their number hung from the rafters of a CBA stadium.

In 369 career games, by far the most games ever played by a foreign import player, Dixon averaged 17.7 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 58.2% shooting.

In a league where import players are constantly coming in and out, sometimes only weeks after signing, Dixon’s decade-long career was remarkable not only because Guangdong won so much, but also because he was around for so long to be a part of it all.  And after sitting down with him for a bit before Guangdong’s huge Game 4 win at home to tie the CBA finals at 2-2 against Xinjiang, it was easy for us to see why he’s been here for so long: Humble, relaxed and friendly, Dixon was interrupted several times during our interview by teammates, team employees and well-wishing fans, all of whom greeted him as a close friend and a valued member of the community.

Dixon, now retired from professional basketball after winning an the AirAsia ASEAN Basketball League for the Chang Thailand Slammers, is back in familiar surroundings working as an assistant coach with his old squad, Guangdong.  We talked about the new gig, his playing days in China and more in our sit down on Friday.

NiuBBall: So you’re back from playing a season in Thailand, how did you get hooked up with the job? Did you have it lined up with Guangdong ahead of time?

Jason Dixon: I came [to DongGuan] this Christmas to visit. We’re having dinner and the owner said, “When you retire, we have a job for you.” I was like, “Alright, cool.”

NiuBBall: Do you see yourself doing coaching long-term?

JD: They told me for the first year, we’ll just take it year by year and see how I do.  As more days go by, I’m actually fitting into it.  I wouldn’t mind doing it long-term.  With coaching, there’s no retirement age, you can as long as you want.  So I figure this is a good start.  With the NBA influence coming in here and all that stuff I could do that, or at least some major college or something. I was coaching little kids in the summer, coaching my son, but you do that for fun.  It’s cool, but as far as making money, I wouldn’t mind coaching at a major college.  I told people, first I want to do freshman or junior varsity [high-school], because those kids are still young and you can still teach them. But, now that I’m doing professional, it’s a little bit easier.  It comes a little bit more natural.

NiuBBall: What kinds of things does the team have you do?

JD: For now, its just player development with the big guys.  It’s cool because they’re starting me off, giving me a little piece, and then as time goes on they may give me some more responsibilities.  I guess as I show that I’m mature enough to handle it.

NiuBBall: You’ve been with this team for a long time, has knowing all of the players you’re working with made the transition easier?

JD: They like me, which is cool because I have the respect already. As a foreigner coming in here as a coach, they listen to you.  But, they think you’re going to leave and go back to America, that you’re just here to get the money. And you know, some of them learn. The thing is that they know the stuff that I tell them to do is the stuff I do myself. They’ve seen me work hard, they’ve seen that I’m always in shape, so they can’t say anything back to me, like “You’ve never done this.” Everything I’m telling you, I’ve done, so don’t say a word to me. So the only thing they say now is, “You didn’t shoot that well” [laughing].

NiuBBall: As a foreign coach, what are some of the challenges in working with Chinese players?

JD: The language barrier is always tough. And their work ethic is a lot different than Americans. I don’t want to call them lazy, but when they work out its very laid back.  At home, we say do a drill and kids go hard as hell. Here, it’s just like “Eh, we’ll do the drill.”

NiuBBall: Why do you think that is?

JD: Honestly, it’s because they play ball all year. They’re exhausted.  So it becomes monotonous to them.  I honestly think they lose the love for the game.  In America, you can go get a pick-up game and at this pick-up game, nobody knows who you are. You can do whatever – if you want to dribble the ball, no one is going to say you can’t do it.  Whereas here, you go to practice, you have a position.  If you’re a big man, you’re not supposed to dribble and that get’s old, it get’s boring. I have ideas to kind of see if the players respond to it.  My original idea I had was to just let the kids play five-on-five, have some kids come to gym and just say, you guys got 60 minutes to play five-on-five and whoever loses has to run “seventeens.” The coach was like, “We’re going to be fired if you do that” [laughing].  The kids don’t love the game.  One of the things about Americans is they have love [for basketball.] Even Europeans love the game.

NiuBBall: For sure.  One of the biggest elements of the off-season is playing pick-up, that’s how a lot of guys refine the skills they’ve been working on in the gym by themselves.

JD: Exactly. It’s how people improve. I think they’re starting to understand a little bit. You never improve during the season, because the season is when you want maintain. The off-season is when you improve your shot, you improve your dribbling skills, footwork… So, them having me in the summer, I think they have that confidence that maybe I can take their big men to another level. The problem is, all of their big men are on the National team. They won’t be here with me.  I’ll just have the younger guys.

NiuBBall: You played with the team for 10 years. I think that’s incredible given the turnover rate with foreign players in this league. Why do you think you were able to play here for so long? How were you able to adapt so well?

JD: Personality is one thing.  I’m the kind of person who gets along with everybody.  And then, there’s winning.  They’re going to go with someone who plays hard and wins games.  I think we only had one season when I was here when we didn’t do well, there was one year when we finished in sixth. Every other season that, we’ve been at least top four.  If it’s a proven thing, why would you go away from it?  The year that I actually did leave, we did terrible.  Then when I came back from Europe, we started winning championships again.  Now the stuff they’ve got going on, it’s so far past what I’ve done.  But before it was like, “You’re putting us in the finals, so we’re going to keep bringing you back.”

NiuBBall: How big of a role has the city played in everything? Do you like living here?

JD: I do, I love the city.  The city has grown.  It has a lot of foreigners here. It’s like a small college town, everyone knows everybody.  If someone does something, everyone is going to hear about it.  There’s enough restaurants where I can only eat foreign food.  I don’t really eat Chinese food.  So it’s grown a lot.  The first three years were rough.  I’d just sit in my room and play PlayStation.  But, you know we travel so much, you’re really not home.  You look forward to Beijing, Shanghai and Ningbo.  You hate hate the Xinjiang, Jiangsu and Liaoning trips [laughing].  But, now everyone loves coming here. When I’m here, I make sure I take everyone out, I get them a burger, a steak, whatever they want. Guangdong is the place to be at now.

NiuBBall: Do you think foreign players need to have a certain type of make-up, a certain type of personality to play here? Why do you think some foreign players don’t last long out here, especially this year with all of the NBA guys?

JD: I think some of these teams don’t know what they really want from a player.  They’ll look at stats and they’ll say “That guy scores a lot,” or “That guy rebounds a lot, we want that guy.”  But, they don’t understand chemistry and I think that’s the main reason.  It’s chemistry.  If you come here and you demand to take 40 shots a game, that takes shots away from the other players.  Some teams will tolerate it if you’re winning, but if you’re losing they won’t want you here.  Some guys have bad attitudes.  China’s actually tough. If you’re not in a good city, it can be really tough.  With the NBA guys, I think it’s even harder for them because they’re coming from traveling on team planes, this whole lap of luxury. You get out here and it’s not the lap of luxury [laughing].  It’s rough.  It’s an adjustment.

NiuBBall: In that sense, is Guangdong different from other teams where they look at a foreign player in terms of how he fits into the existing team, as opposed to just bringing a player in because he can put up huge numbers?

JD: Yeah, I think they are different.  Because in reality, you’re not going to come to this team and score.  Take David Harrison.  Last year I came here for Christmas, and David had come over from Beijing where he was getting the ball a lot and he was upset.  I said “Dave, you’re not going to get the ball here.”  You have five National team players on this team, all you can do is grab rebounds.  You’ll score about 15 points a game.

NiuBBall: Plus there was Smush [Parker].

JD: Plus there was Smush.  Plus you have that rule [foreign players can only play at the same time for two quarters], so you’re not going to score.  Get your 12-15 points and 10-12 rebounds.  On this team, your job is really easy. More or less they want the big men to come here and defend every other team’s big man and [Mengke] Bateer.  Bateer, Tang [Zhengdong], and Wang Zhizhi.  Everything else isn’t that hard.  It shocked me because when Dave got hurt, they didn’t rush to find another big man.  They took their time and they still were winning a lot of games.  It just shows that they don’t need a big man to come here and take shots.  Those days are over.

NiuBBall: Who was best player, local or foreign, that you played against?

JD: Man, that’s tough… for foreigners, it’s tough to say.  There’s been a lot of great players who’ve played here.  For locals, its definitely Wang [Zhizhi]. He’s left-handed and he’s taller than me, so I couldn’t really do anything.  Liu Yudong was tough too. That dude, he didn’t miss a shot!  Foreigners, it’s really tough to say because there’s been so many. I looked at it as, you’re a man and I’m a man, and we’re going to go head-to-head.  A lot of people say, if you’re seven feet tall and you’re in China, you must not be that good.  Some of those guys were not [laughing.]  Some of them were really athletic, but there’s more to the game than that.  Earlier in China, the level of Americans was different because of the pay. The pay reflected the competition. I really can’t think of the best foreigner.

NiuBBall: A lot of people have said Quincy Douby might be the best foreign player of all-time.

JD: He’s on a team with Bateer!  He can shoot.  He’s definitely a great shooter. But, if you look at his whole game, I don’t want to sound like I’m hating on the guy, but all he does is shoot!  I mean, he drives to the basket, but he doesn’t guard anybody.  I think people say that because he makes a lot of noise.  In China, they love the three-point shooters, but to say he’s the best in the history… I’d say you have to look at a guy like Lee Benson. I don’t know how he does it, but game after game he’s got 30 points and 20 rebounds.  How do you say he’s not up there?  I mean, having Bateer down there makes the biggest difference.  Xinjiang has always had good foreigners, even when teams couldn’t pay a lot.

NiuBBall: For the first time in team history, Guangdong is in a close series and isn’t necessarily favored to win.  What’s the mood in the locker room been like?  Have you noticed a difference in mood and attitude with this year’s team in comparison with other years?

JD: They’re aware their backs are against the wall.  We have two huge games coming up.  We got to get them both.  This team, they’ll play one good game and then they’ll play a bad one.  The thing is, we got to win two back-to-back.  We know we have to come here and win two.

NiuBBall: Is there something missing from this year’s team that maybe they had in years past?

JD: We don’t have the inside game that we used to have.  And we still have the young guys, too.  The guys are getting older.  Somebody asked me, “Are they still hungry?”  Some people think they don’t have that same fire.  I think maybe they’re burned out.  They had the Asian Championships, the Olympics, the China Games… its insane.  I wouldn’t say they’ve lost their fire, they’re just burning out!  You play so many important games and you don’t have that same emotion.

NiuBBall: I saw that Yi Jianlian is now back in Guangdong rooting his old team on after his season with the Washington Wizards is over. You obviously played with him for a while, why do you think he has struggled to live up to expectations in the NBA?

JD: I wouldn’t say he’s struggled.  I think people had this high expectation of Yi and I don’t know where that high expectation came from.  To be quite honest, Yi didn’t dominate the CBA. He only played three years in the CBA and his first two years, I don’t want to say he was a nobody, but he wasn’t dominant.  His third year he did what he was supposed to do.  He got noticed, made noise, but for some reason people were like he’s going to go [to the NBA], he’s going to be a starter, he’s going to average this and have this great career.  I had to bite my tongue about it.  He doesn’t have great ball handling skills.  He has a great outside shot and he’s very athletic.  But, it’s politics, it’s China.  Teams want the Chinese market.  I would say Yi hasn’t had a great career, but it’s been a healthy career.  How many players go into the NBA for a lot of years?  He’s got his years, he’s got his pension.  I think Yao just raised the bar… But, I wish him the best of luck.  I’m curious about what happens when he comes back to play for this team.  What’s going to happen then?  It’s going to be so unfair.

NiuBBall: You think after he’s done in NBA, Yi’s going to come back and play again for Guangdong?

I think he would because he’s such a nice guy and the team has such a good relationship with him.  I think he would do it for one or two seasons.  That’s going to be so unfair.

NiuBBall: You’ve been in this city for so long, do you have any side projects off the court that you’ve been working on?

JD: I’ve had ideas, but it’s hard because you’re playing three games a week and you’re always on the road.  It’s kind of hard.  People have told me “You should do something, you have a name in the city, you should do this.”  And when I try to pursue it a little bit, you know it’s like, we have three games this week.  And when the season’s over, I don’t want to be here.  I want to go home and see my kids.  Now that I’m a little older, now that I’m actually here for a while, I can actually be here.  There’s a few ideas, people want me to start my own basketball academy.  But, here it’s not like how it is at home.  It’s not like it is back home where after school, parents want their kid involved in some type of sport.  Here it’s like they want them playing piano or ballet, doing something “intelligent.”  But, I may try it.  My daughter is coming out here to go to school next year at an American school.  I figure it’d be cool to start something new.  I asked [the team] about [starting a basketball academy] and they were the ones who told me about kids being into piano and ballet… Asia, I guess.

NiuBBall: Jason, thanks a lot for the sit down. Good luck with coaching and everything else.

JD: Thanks.

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Several CBA teams keeping tabs on NBA’s Wednesday cuts

January 5, 2011

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As we near the one month mark in the CBA regular season, several teams are looking towards America to remedy a host of early season ills.

With today being the final day NBA teams can waive players with partially guaranteed contracts — no extra salary payments required — several teams in China are closely monitoring the League transaction report to find out which players are going to spend the rest of the year in the States, and which players are in need of a job.

John Lucas III, freshly waived by Chicago, is one of those players who are seriously looking to China for work.

According to a source speaking anonymously with NiuBBall.com, both Shanghai and Beijing are highly interested in bringing over Lucas, who was officially let go by the Bulls yesterday.

Lucas is fielding several offers both within America and China, but at the moment it seems that Lucas prefers a return to Shanghai above all others.  Lucas played with the Sharks last year under American head coach, Bob Donewald Jr., guiding them to a 25-7 regular season record and an appearance in the semi-finals, and feels comfortable with Donewald, the city and the overall structure of the team.  Also playing a factor in his decision is Shanghai owner Yao Ming, who’s massive height may only be trumped by his well-known influence on both sides of the ocean.

In his first and only season with Shanghai last season, Lucas averaged 27.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists on 48.6% shooting and 45.1% from three-point in 40 games.

Meanwhile in southern China, Guangdong, reportedly unsatisfied with the early season returns on Fred Jones, is also keeping a close watch on the NBA roster situations.  Troubled by Jones’ lack of overall explosion and athleticism, Guangdong has major concerns about his ability to handle Xinjiang’s Quincy Douby defensively, who went off on both player and team for 38 points — including 18-19 from the free throw line — in Xinjiang’s Round Five win in Guangzhou. Behind the duo of Douby and former Clippers/Mavericks/Wizards’ forward James Singleton to go along with a solid supporting cast of domestic players, Xinjiang has rolled to a 9-0 start and are considered the present odds on favorite to break Guangdong’s three year championship streak.

According to the source, Guangdong is searching for a combo guard similar in ability and build to Smush Parker, who played two years with the team in 2008-09 and 2009-10 before leaving to sign with Spartak St. Petersberg in Russia.

In nine games, Jones is averaging 14.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.1 steals for the 7-2 Southern Tigers.

Also influencing Guangdong’s January movement is the season ending injury to center David Harrison, who sustained a broken fibula on December 15th against Jilin.  To replace Harrison, Guangdong was close to signing former 2005 lottery pick, Ike Diogu, to a rest-of-the-season deal.  But, the Los Angeles Clippers stepped in at the buzzer and brought in Diogu on a tryout before eventually signing him in an effort to bolster their frontcourt.

Though Guangdong is short one import, unhappy with another and thus clearly behind Xinjiang in the CBA pecking order, the team will not rush into a deal merely for the sake of shaking things up.  Though they are keeping tabs on NBA rosters, expect them to bide their time and wait for the right player to become available with a move likely to be made by the end of next week.

Beijing, short an import themselves after the short-lived Steve Francis experiment came and went, is also weighing several options as they search for a replacement.  At an advantage over most teams because of their bottom four finish last year, the Ducks have been able to carry a third Asian import on the roster in addition to the league mandated two non-Asian import player limit.  With former New York/Atlanta center, Randolph Morris, dominating on offense and Jordan national team forward, Zaid Abbas, taking care of the dirty work on defense, Beijing has exceeded all expectations to start the year at 7-3, despite being virtually sans Francis for the whole year.

All set up front, Beijing is looking to add a scoring guard to take pressure off off of Taiwanese point-guard, Lee Hsueh-Lin, who prefers to distribute rather than shoot.

And no stranger to foreign player turnover, Shanxi Zhongyu is also interested in acquiring a new import, with former New Orleans Hornets draft pick, Cedric Simmons, as their primary target.

Follow Jon Pastuszek on Twitter @NiuBBall

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Thursday Afternoon Tanghulu

December 16, 2010

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Sweetening up your afternoon with a stick of Beijing’s timeless sugar coated snack and some links

  • Jiangsu’s big man in the middle, Tang Zhendgong, ended his long holdout with management late Tuesday night after recent speculation that the seven-foot center wouldn’t play at all this year.  With Tang finally on board, the Dragons now have every one of its players under contract for this season.  The former national team center scored four points and hauled down two rebounds in his debut in last night’s win against Foshan.
  • Guangdong’s title defense looks like it just got a lot harder.  Midway through the second quarter last night, center David Harrison went up for a rebound under the basket and went down on the floor hard with the full force of Jilin’s 275 pound center, Liu Wei, crushed on his ankle.  Harrison was carried out into an ambulance on a stretcher and is in Hong Kong awaiting diagnosis.  Judging by these pictures, that diagnosis won’t be good.
  • Anyone who has flied to China from the States can relate to this: Steve Francis is very, very jetlagged.  As a veteran of cross-Pacific aerial travel, I know a few things about getting over that, the first being never, never take a long afternoon nap during the first few days, no matter how tired you are.  After a morning shootaround yesterday, an exhausted Francis went back to a hotel near the Shougang Center and… took an ill nap before the athletic trainer forced the groggy jetlagged guard out of bed at around 3pm.
  • And now for some shameless self-promotion.  I’m teaming up with City Weekend Online for a weekly CBA recap, with the first installment already up on the site here.  Like I said, its going to be a once-a-week thing, so make sure to check back every Tuesday for more.
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