Tag Archives: Gerald Green

Wang Xiaonan: Gerald Green’s delusional disorder

June 4, 2013

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Living in Beijing, two things consistently warm our hearts: Buy one, get the other half off McFlurry’s at McDonald’s and when we get emails from people who want to write for NiuBBall. We’re really not that tough to please.

The latter is how we got in touch with Wang Xiaonan, our website’s newest contributor. Xiaonan is way more legit than we’ll ever be: During the NBA season, he works in the States as Sohu’s beat writer for the 76ers and the Knicks. Beyond that, he also writes more fluently in English, which is his second language, than we do. He’s a sharp guy, to say the least.

To start off his NiuBBall career, Xiaonan gives us a piece on Gerald Green, who had a cup of coffee in China two years ago before eventually finding his way back to the NBA with the New Jersey Nets. As he writes, Once a feel good story of redemption, Green looks to have fallend back into his old ways…

The NBA Playoffs is entering its climax. LeBron is still insanely great; Paul George is still radiating charms; Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh are still doing what they are doing even though I still have no idea exactly what that is.

Instead, it is someone on the bench who got engrossed in deep thought — Gerald Green. Earlier this season, I talked with him earlier after a game at the Wells Fargo Center, one of a multitude of games where he logged zero minutes.

Green, of course, spent some time in the CBA two seasons ago. I asked him about his experience and whether or not he will go back to China again when his NBA career ends; all these cliches you can imagine for a NBA player who has ties with China. His response to my dummy cliches were quite telling about his disposition, which I postulated as utterly delusional.

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DongGuan splashes into the foreign and domestic market

September 7, 2012

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Marcus Haislip will play his third season in the Chinese Basketball Association with DongGuan New Century.

As the season looms closer and closer, elite CBA teams vying for a top place have gotten more and more aggressive with their acquisitions. Not content to watch Beijing and Xinjiang add impressive reinforcements, the Dongguan New Century Leopards have added 6’10’’ power forward, Marcus Haislip, and promising 22 year-old guard, Yu Shulong, to head coach Brian Goorjian’s rapidly emerging core.

Haislip, a University of Tennessee product, is a familiar face in the CBA. Last season for Foshan, he averaged 21 points and seven rebounds after coming in mid-season to replace Gerald Green. More importantly for a DongGuan team with the explicit goal of landing in the top four, Haislip also has valuable playoff experience. In 2010-11, he shot an incredible 77.7% rate from behind the arc to clinch a title for Guangdong Hongyuan. The former NBA lottery pick will be called upon for his postseason experience and post presence on a team that placed fifth last season before falling to Xinjiang in the quarterfinals in five games. His all-around ability should fit in well with Goorjian’s defensive schemes.

The 6’1’’ Yu is a highly regarded guard. He burst onto the CBA scene in 2009-10, averaging 11.7 points in his debut for the Jilin Northeast Tigers. Known for his speed and shooting, Yu played bit roles in the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship and 2010 FIBA World Championship as a backup while he continued to remain as a centerpiece on the Jilin team, normally logging over 35 minutes a game as a starter.

This past season, however, the diminutive guard found himself on the short end of the CBA’s Asian import rule. Expected to continue his large role within the team, Yu instead found himself backing up Jordanian star Osama Daghlas and averaging a career low 15.6 minutes per game. Deeply resentful of his diminished playing time, Yu went so far as to say this week that he would rather go back to school then play another season for Jilin. DongGuan had been linked with a move for Yu since the beginning of the off-season.

Now finally free of Jilin’s much-maligned practice of playing one guard at a time, Yu will finally have an opportunity to continue his development. His temporary transfer is an exciting move for Dongguan. Known for his long-term vision in developing players, Goorjian adds a significant piece to the team’s future while immediately bolstering a patchy guard rotation. All this, of course, is contingent on Jilin, which seems intent on keeping Yu in the long-term. Yu will continue to represent Jilin in the National Games next year, but this move for the club is questionable at best. Playing time for a National Team-caliber guard, an extremely young one with huge upside no less, should not be this hard to find. The fact that Yu felt alienated is a clear indictment against Jilin’s management and coaching. Dongguan has done well to capitalize on this shortsightedness to add a tremendous player.

The Leopards continue to look for help, and a potential backcourt partner for Yu has surfaced in Wang Dingjie, or James Wang, as he’s known stateside at Williams College. The Taiwanese native averaged 17.3 points on 56% shooting as he led the NCAA Division III squad to a 30-2 record. A strong player with nice offensive skills, Wang’s most troubling weakness is his height: he measures out at 6 feet, a tad small for a shooting guard. Dongguan has treated his four days in China as a sort of a scouting test, and will make a decision based on their evaluations.

These signings deviate little from Dongguan’s practices in the past: develop talented young players and integrate skilled foreign players within Goorjian’s plan. With Guangdong, Haislip showed willingness to defer to teammates and get his own shots within the flow of the offense, and will be commit to the offensive and defensive plans at Dongguan. Yu and Wang are guards with great upside that the team hopes will develop into a formidable starting backcourt.

Dongguan continues to kick off preparations for the new season today with a tournament in Shenzhen.

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Extended season – CBAers in the NBA

April 7, 2012

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Lester Hudson is one of a growing number of players who have signed in the NBA after playing this season in China. (Photo: AP)

With a 2012 CBA season that was filled with rabid fanaticism, deception, fighting girlfriends, redemption, and even a playoff upset officially in the books, most foreign imports have returned to their native lands. But just because the CBA season is over doesn’t mean that it’s time for a vacation – there is still a month left in the NBA. Teams are either making their playoff push or preparing for next season by offering 10-day contracts auditions.

A handful of this season’s CBA players are now playing in the NBA. Let’s see how they’re fairing:

Kenyon Martin (Xinjiang)– Along with Coach Bob Donewald, Martin was Xinjiang’s prize free agent acquisition last summer. With the NBA lockout in full force, Martin, who has missed considerable time with injuries the last few seasons, was merely looking for some run until the NBA season started. But, Martin impacted the season far more after he left China: First, Xinjiang bought out his contract shortly before Christmas, which gave him a stress-free return back to the United States. On top of that, he was able to get his FIBA release thanks to the CBA’s 10-day annual Spring Festival break, despite the league’s strict no-opt out policy that forbade players from returning to the NBA mid-season.

Past his early and mid-2000s prime, Martin is now better served playing off the bench. The L.A. Clippers started the season with rookie Trey Thompkins and Brian Cook backing up Blake Griffin. Ouch. With a gaping hole behind Griffin, the Clippers inked Martin to a one-year, $2.5 million deal. He is now the first big man off the bench and plays 20 minutes a game averaging 5 points and 4 rebounds.

NYTimes.com – Kenyon Martin beats the China trap with the old Lunar New Year play

Wilson Chandler (Guangsha) – After watching his former teammate Kenyon Martin bolt for the NBA, both Wilson Chandler’s effort level and the Guangsha Lions’ record took a nosedive starting in January. Ultimately, he left the CBA just before the beginning of the playoffs in search of a large, multi-year contract.

After a month of posturing, he scored a five-year, $37 million deal with the Denver Nuggets (I’m sure his Guangsha teammates understand).  In his seven games with the Nuggets, he is averaging 11 points, six rebounds, a block and a steal per game. He is currently nursing a groin injury but should be back on the court soon.

HoopsWorld – Wilson Chandler Struggles to to Re-Adjust to NBA
ESPN TrueHoop - Wilson Chandler, Back at Last 

J.R. Smith (Zhejiang) – With his roller-coaster season in China complete, Smith returned to the States and fielded multiple offers. He spurned the Lob City Clippers to get in on the Linsanity with the New York Knicks.

With the Knicks, Smith is doing what he does best: shoot threes. While he still hasn’t found his stroke (37% FG) or put up one of his patented 40-point explosions, Smith is averaging 10 points off the bench. He’s also carried a lot of the controversy that followed him in Zhejiang to New York, where he’s been fined for posting “inappropriate pictures” on his Twitter account, ejected from a game for a flagrant-2 foul (which has since been downgraded to flagrant-1) and criticized by head coach, Mike Woodson, for sagging his shorts.

With Jeremy Lin and Amar’e Stoudemire likely out for the season, there won’t be any shortage of shots for Smith in the near future; nor does it seem there will be any shortage of Smith headlines.

NYPost.com – Knicks coach tells Smith he wants ‘his shorts pulled up’
Posting and Toasting – J.R. Smith got fined 25,000 for his photography
NiuBBall.com – J.R. Smith fined a million dollars for missing practices?

Aaron Brooks (Guangdong) – As a restricted free agent, Brooks is in the same boat that Wilson Chandler was in when he returned from China. Brooks’ rights are owned by the Suns, who are the only team he can negotiate with until this summer’s free agency period starts. That being said, he might decide to sit out the remainder of the season until he can field contract offers from other teams, which would give him negotiating leverage. The Suns aren’t going anywhere this season and prefer allowing Steve Nash to ride into the sunset, John Wayne style, rather than signing Brooks.

But after giving up a first round pick and Goran Dragic for Brooks, the Suns would look awfully foolish if they are unable to come to terms on a contract this summer.

Arizona Republic – Suns face some tough decision on Aaron Brooks
Suns.com – Lance Blanks checking in from China
NBA.com – Suns GM Headed to China to Visit Aaron Brooks

Ivan Johnson (Qingdao) – Johnson had a cup of tea in Qingdao this year before he was replaced by Olumideye Oyedeji, despite putting up some really good numbers. After he went back to the States, he was quickly snapped up by the Atlanta Hawks, who needed some size in the interior due to an injury to Al Horford. To a lot of people’s surprise, Johnson, playing his first year of NBA ball at age 27, has stuck and played some key minutes off the bench.

In 46 games, he’s averaging 15 minutes, 5.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.

Associated Press: Hawks’ Ivan Johnson making good as rookie at 27
Atlanta Journal Constitution – Hawks’ other Johnson making a name for himself

Cartier Martin (Jilin) – Martin has dabbled in the NBA for a few seasons now and was most recently signed to a 10-day contract with the Washington Wizards. After trading one of the NBA’s most notorious chuckers, Nick Young, the Wizards suddenly needed a SG to backup Jordan Crawford.

Martin has answered the call. In only his second game with the team, the former Jilin star scored 20 points on 12 shots while helping the Wizards snap a 5-game losing streak. In his six games with the team, he is averaging eight points and four rebounds. With the Wizards out of the playoff hunt, look for Martin to get some serious run down the stretch if he’s signed to another contract. If he continues his early success, Martin might be lucky enough to find himself on the Wizards opening night roster next fall.

Wizards Insider – Cartier Martin ‘excited’ to be back with Wizards
Truth About It – Cartier Martin. Back. (And why Martin is immediately the Wizards’ best 3-point shooter) 

Lester Hudson (Qingdao) – Qingdao’s mighty mouse, Lester Hudson was narrowly beat out by J.R. Smith for the CBA’s scoring crown.  The little man can fill it up, although he is the definition of a volume shooter.

Nonetheless, his successful CBA season got the attention of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who in turn signed him to a 10-day contract. The Cavaliers lost backup PG Daniel Gibson for the season and now their pending rookie of the year Kyrie Irving could be out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury. What does that mean?  Hudson and little-known Donald Sloan will be the only ones competing for minutes in the Cavs’ backcourt. If Hudson can make a good impression on the rest of the league this season, he could find his niche as a Nate Robinson-type energy man and land a longer contract.

Akron-Beacon Journal: Lester Hudson escapes past, takes long road to NBA
The News-Herald: Lester Hudson picking up offense as quickly as he can

Gerald Green (Foshan) – Of all CBA imports, Gerald Green’s NBA success is the most impressive. Drafted out of high school by the Boston Celtics in the 2005 NBA draft, an immature Green entered the league knowing how to do two things: jump and shoot. Unfortunately, the jumping only won him a slam dunk contest and his poor shooting found him jobless.

He’s been a basketball vagabond the past few seasons and was on Foshan’s roster opening night. Green only lasted 4 games before being released, but averaged a robust 26.5 points.

After his departure from China, Green signed a 10-day contract with the Lakers, who were looking for some athleticism on the wing. Things didn’t pan out in Hollywood and Green was once again on the move, this time to New Jersey. The Nets signed him to two consecutive 10-day contracts before signing him for the rest of the season. In New Jersey, Green has found his role as a scorer off the bench. For the season, he is averaging 12 points on 49% shooting in nearly 24 minutes. He has scored 20 or more points 5 times this season.

If this impressive extended audition continues, Green will probably find himself a multiyear deal this summer with an NBA team.

SI.com – Green Energy: After humbling fall, ex-dunk champ rises again in NBA
NY Daily News – Gerald Green’s 3-month roller coaster
New Jersey Examiner - Gerald Green continues to defy the odds

James Singleton (Guangdong) – It was a short turnaround for Singleton, who just a week ago was bounced from the CBA finals by the Beijing Ducks. Fortunately, he doesn’t have much time to dwell on Guangdong’s finals disappointment, as he was awarded with a 10-day contract with the Washington Wizards. It’s not his first stint in Washington. Singleton was sent over to D.C. as part of the trade that sent Caron Butler to the Mavericks in 2010. He impressed enough in 32 games to get a one-year deal, but elected to sign a more lucrative contract in China the next season.

With Trevor Booker and Nene Hilario battling injuries – and who knows if they will return this season with the Wizards already eliminated from the playoffs – Singleton played 14 minutes in his first game with the Wiz. The results? Not like his CBA numbers — he had zero points, two rebounds and a whopping five personal fouls. Anyone who’s made the China-to-America trip knows a thing or two about jet lag, however and with another day and some more hours of sleep under his belt, he rebounded tonight with a 13 points and nine rebounds.

Bullets Forever – James Singleton Is Returning To The Washington Wizards

Patty Mills (Xinjiang) — The Australian point guard was embroiled in a controversial break-up with Xinjiang this season after the team accused him of faking a hamstring injury, a claim with Mills vehemently denied. Like Martin, Mills left China mid-season; unlike Martin, however, he was unable to get his FIBA release and was forced to sit in the U.S. while the Flying Tigers finished out their season.

But once Xinjiang was swept out of the semi-finals by Guangdong, Mills faced another obstacle towards getting back onto an NBA court — the Portland Trail Blazers, who still held his rights. With a full roster, a new coach and a front office in transition, it was unclear what Portland was going to do with Mills. In March, they ultimately decided to renounce Mills and after weighing offers from a couple of teams, he signed a two-year deal with the San Antonio Spurs. After working out his work visa papers, he suited up for his first game on March 27th at Phoenix.

Mills, who will represent the Boomers this summer in London, is in an excellent situation in San Antonio. Not only is he getting some much needed game reps before the Olympics, he’s also playing under Australian National Team head coach, Brett Brown, who works as an assistant on the Spurs staff. It may have been a long road back to the League, but it looks like Mills has landed in a good spot.

NBA.com – A Bright Light from Down Under

Alan Anderson (Shandong) – Anderson signed a 10-day with the Toronto Raptors on March 26th and was good enough to earn another one. It’s his second stint in the League — he spent two years with the Bobcats in 05-06 and 06-07. He has appeared in six games for the Raps, averaging 5.8 points and two rebounds in 16 minutes.

Raptors HQ – Raptors Re-Sign Uzoh and Anderson, Ink D-League PG Dentmon
National Post – Raptors’ Alan Anderson finds another soft landing in Toronto

Follow Edward Bothfeld on Twitter @bothfeef

 

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The 2011-12 CBA season in numbers

April 3, 2012

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Qingdao’s Lester Hudson shot the ball way more than anybody else in China this year. (Photo: Osports)

The 2011-12 CBA season is officially in the books. And so are the different numbers and statistics that were accumulated over the years. Now, they’re on a computer screen in English for your enjoyment. If there were any numbers that stood out to you this season, feel free to write them in the comments.

More good post-season CBA wrap stuff to come…

59: Combined amount of field goals (38) and free-throws (21) attempted by J.R. Smith against Shanxi on January 8th. He finished the game with 58 points. Zhejiang lost the game at home 128 – 110.

60: Points scored by J.R. Smith against Qingdao on February 1st, the most scored in a single game this season and third all-time. Andre Emmett holds the league’s single-game record with 71, achieved in March 2010. In the game, J.R. hit 14 threes which is the second most ever made in a single game behind the 15 Leon Rogers made in 2008-09.

2: Number of altercations with opposing team fans J.R. Smith’s sister, Stephanie, got into this season. She was eventually banned by the team towards the end of the season in early February from attending home and away games.

24: Threes shot by Lester Hudson against Shanxi on January 18th. He made 10 of them and finished the game with 45 points. Qingdao lost at home 110-106.

481: Amount of three-point shots taken by Lester Hudson over 32 games, most in the league. Second was DongGuan’s Josh Akognon with 368.

851: Total number of field goal attempts taken by Lester Hudson, most in the league.

15-17 and 12-12: Shots made and attempted by Liaoning’s Han Dejun, the first of which came on December 23rd against Shanxi; the second against Foshan on January 11th. Han finished the year with a 57% field-goal percentage.

41: Points scored by Qingdao’s Li Gen against Beijing on February 11th, a season high for Chinese scorers. It was also a career high for Li. He finished the year as the league’s top Chinese scorer with a 17.5 point per game average.

1952: Career assists by Shanxi’s Lu Xiaoming, most all-time in CBA history. Lu passed Jiangsu’s Hu Xuefeng on February 15th against Guangdong.

8392: Career points scored by Bayi’s Wang Zhizhi, second most all-time in CBA history. Wang passed Liu Yudong, who finished his career with 8387 points, on February 12th against Liaoning.

8711: Career points scored by Zhu Fangyu, most all-time in CBA history. Zhu passed Liu Yudong on January 1st against Jiangsu.

9 and 10: The total number of wins for Jiangsu and Bayi this season respectively, both of which are franchise worsts.

18,000: Number of fans who attended Games 1, 4 and 5 of the CBA Finals, a CBA record for attendance.

59%: Marcus Williams’ three-point shooting percentage according to Sina.

62%: Marcus Williams’ three-point shooting percentage according to Asia-Basket.

49%: Marcus Williams’ three-point shooting percentage according to NetEase.

4.4: Points averaged in the Finals this year against Beijing by Wang Shipeng. Last season against Xinjiang, he averaged 22.7 en route to a Finals MVP.

32%: Stephon Marbury’s three-point percentage during the regular season, a three-year CBA career low.

44:% Stephon Marbury’s three-point percentage during the Finals.

4: The number of teams who have won a CBA championship — Beijing, Guangdong, Shanghai and Bayi.

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Wednesday Morning Jianbing

March 14, 2012

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Starting your day right with China’s favorite street breakfast and a bunch of links
  • As the popular saying goes, sometimes life gets in the way of blogging, which explains why we’re late on all the Shanxi-Beijing-Marbury fallout from Game 4 on Sunday. We promise we have some stuff coming up, but in the meantime go and check out Anthony Tao’s excellent coverage over at Beijing Cream here, here and here.
  • Shark Fin Hoops’ Andrew Crawford holds court with 2012 NiuBBall.com CBA Coach of the Year, Dan Panaggio.
  • Fans who wish that Jeremy Lin would cut down on his turnovers, this could be good news: Lin and Volvo are seriously discussing teaming up for future endorsements in China. Maybe associating with Volvo’s line of ultra-safe vehicles will rub off on Lin’s sometimes chaotic, turnover-inducing drives into the lane?
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Thursday Afternoon Tanghulu

March 1, 2012

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Sweetening up your afternoon with a stick of Beijing’s timeless sugar coated snack and some links…
  • For all you people trying to lose weight, forget South Beach and try some Northwest Desert: Since arriving in Xinjiang a couple of weeks ago, Ike Diogu says he’s lost 10 pounds. (H/T hoopCHINA)
  • Everyone knows that players from the NBA come to play China all the time, but it works just the opposite as well. After being out of the League last year, Gerald Green, who played for a bit this season in the CBA for Foshan, has been signed to a 10-day contract with the New Jersey Nets. Who he is replacing? Andre Emmett, the guy who holds the CBA’s all-time single game scoring record with 71 points. Emmett signed a 10-day of his own with the Nets a couple of weeks ago and was the feature of a great story in the New York Times about the pressures and frustrations that 10-day contracts can bring.
  • Alex Linder chats with Shanghai’s American import Mike Harris, who says the best player in the CBA is Marcus Williams. No argument there, though the real Harris question that’s been on our minds here at NiuBBall is: How many years has he been wearing those shoes?
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CBA Round 17 Recap

December 29, 2011

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Guangsha – 118 @ Beijing – 112

After soaring to a 13-0 start, Beijing now looks like they’re coming back down to Earth. The Ducks lost their third straight game on Wednesday, this time to visiting Guangsha. It was their first home loss of the year. Wilson Chandler destroyed the Ducks for 44 points and 18 rebounds and P.J. Ramos played well in support with 26 and 14. Lin Chih-chieh chipped in with 15 points and 5 assists. Stephon Marbury did his best with 34 points.

The Ducks were dominated inside as Randolph Morris fouled out trying to contain the massive Ramos and the active Chandler. The two went to the line 11 times respectively. Also not helping matters was the Ducks’ 7-26 performance from three. Beijing is for real — no team starts a season 13-0 on a fluke — but, its unlikely they’ll be able to maintain their torrid start to the year during the season’s second half. For one, they’re not very deep and their players are already showing signs of fatigue. Two, they rely too heavily on three point shot. They’ll live on it more than they’ll die with it, but Beijing’s status as a championship contender may be slowly fading away.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Guangdong – 106 @ Bayi – 105

Normally it’s a Wang who saves the day for Guangdong when the game is on the line. But that Wang is usually Wang Shipeng, not Wang Zheng. On Wednesday, it was the lesser known of the two Wangs who hit a go-ahead hook shot in the lane with under five seconds as the Southern Tigers came away with a dramatic victory against Bayi. Aaron Brooks scored 20 points in 24 minutes, James Singleton threw up a double-double with 18 points and 13 boards, and Wang Shipeng scored 18 and snared 7 rebounds as Guangdong once again put up another balanced team effort on offense.

With the win, Guangdong now has the same 13-3 record as first place Beijing. But because the Ducks beat them earlier in the season, they still remain in second place.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Tianjin – 81 @ Shanghai – 93

In front of a sparse crowd, the Shanghai Sharks handled their business with a minimum of fuss. When the final buzzer arrived to spare Tianjin any more punishment, the scoreboard was stuck at 93-81. Despite winning their last three games, it was exactly what the Lions deserved after such a lifeless performance. Mike Harris picked up 27 points and 11 rebounds whilst Ryan Forehan-Kelly made 24 in a game that Dan Panaggio described as ‘a necessary win’.

Donnell Harvey made 27 points but other than Zhang Nan, had absolutely no-one to help him try and keep the game close. Coach Panaggio revealed in his press conference that several members of his team were struggling with the flu but insisted on playing, reflecting both the commitment to the cause in Shanghai’s ranks but also how bad the Lions were in losing by such a distance to their weakened hosts.

The Foshan Dralions, recently shorn of their talisman, Gerald Green, are the next team to visit the Yuanshen. The Sharks, now 6-1 at home, will be looking for revenge against their guests after an embarrassing away defeat back in October. Going 9-8 on Friday night would be a remarkable way to finish off 2011.

Box Score

Andrew Crawford

Xinjiang -92 @ Fujian – 115

Xinjiang’s second straight game with an all Chinese lineup (Patty Mills didn’t play because of a hamstring) lost on both style and the score sheet as they were blown out on the road against Fujian. Will McDonald dominated with 32 points and 14 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive end. Offensive boards were an ongoing theme during the match as Fujian took a 21-8 advantage in that department and went +20 total rebounds.

Worth mentioning here is Xu Guozhong’s stupid tally of 46 points, which is not only a career high, but a season high for Chinese players this season.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Zhejiang – 95 @ Liaoning – 117

Box Score

Shanxi – 91 @ DongGuan – 110

Box Score

 

Jiangsu – 105 @ Jilin – 111

Box Score

Foshan – 88 @ Qingdao – 100

Box Score

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Friday Morning Jianbing

December 16, 2011

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Starting your day right with China’s favorite street breakfast and a bunch of links

  • We’re not sure if this “extreme form of basketball” can actually be considered as basketball since there are no baskets… but, it’s still pretty lihai nonetheless.
  • Gerald Green wasn’t good enough for the Foshan Dralions, but he’s apparently good enough for the 16-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers have reportedly agreed on a deal to bring Green into the Staples Center this season. And Earl Clark, who was with the Guangsha Lions for about seven minutes during pre-season, is back with the Orlando Magic.
  • But the most shocking signing of all? Bonzi Wells, who Shanxi Zhongyu fans are quite familiar with, has signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
  • Stephon Marbury talking to the New York Times: “I never thought in my life that I’d end up going to China and wanting to spend the rest of my life here.”
  • The Triangle offense may be dead in the NBA, but it’s definitely alive (and sort of) kicking in China. The Shanghai Sharks are doing their best to run it with longtime Triangle-disciple Dan Pannagio at the helm, and longtime Phil Jackson assistant, Jim Cleamons, is in Zhejiang running some of its elements at Guangsha.
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CBA Power Rankings: Week 2 (11/30-12/6)

December 8, 2011

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*Note that the highly complicated methods that comprise these rankings do not factor in the results of Round 8, which was played on Tuesday and Wednesday night. These are as of Round 7, December 4th.

1. Beijing Shougang Ducks (7-0)

Last week — 1: Last week, perhaps the argument could have been made we were hopping on the Ducks bandwagon a little too soon. And we really stress the word “could,” since they won on the road at four-time defending champion Guangdong. After following that up with home win against three-time runner-up, Xinjiang, their spot at the top is now indisputable. But it’s not by any means permanent — Beijing’s next four games are on the road, including a Friday match-up against J.R. Smith and the 4-1 Golden Bulls.

2. Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers (5-2)

LW – 2: Guangdong, who like Xinjiang, hardly ever loses in the regular season, already has two more ticks in that column than most people thought they would this early in the year. And yet, we are still taking the champs’ word for it, despite issues surrounding Aaron Brooks so far unsuccessful integration into the lineup. Given the Southern Tigers’ winning ways over the years, we think he’ll come around eventually. Until he does though, and until the team stops losing games to Qingdao, Guangdong is riding shotgun to Beijing.

3. Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers (3-2)

LW – 3: The two losses don’t concern us as much as the lack of production Xinjiang has been getting from two of the three expensive Chinese players who transfered in this summer, Tang Zhengdong and Chao Yonggang. Tang, who’s knee is obviously not healthy, is now out with an ankle injury. Chao is averaging three points a game. K-Mart’s near 20-20s and Patty Mills’ offensive explosions are all fine and well, but if Xinjiang is to win a title this year, they need more from their local guys.

4. Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls (4-1)

LW – 9: Winners of four straight, the Golden Bulls find themselves back in the position we originally marked them down in before the season started. A lot of that has to do with J.R. Smith. 52 points (11-15 from three), 22 rebounds and 7 steals against Bayi and 32 the game before against Shanxi has his scoring average up to over 27 a game, good for fourth in the league. That number is bound to go up when J.R. figures out how to get some easier shots for himself (only 40% from two-point range).

5. Zhejiang Guangsha Lions  (4-2)

LW – 4: Peter John Ramos is back and up to his old tricks (20 points and 15.5 rebounds in two games), great news for Guangsha who were getting absolutely zilch from the guy he replaced, Dwyane Jones. A huge game on the road against Guangdong will tell us if Ramos’ return to his old home of Hangzhou makes the newly Wilson Chandler-lead Lions legitimate contenders this year.

6. Bayi Fubang Rockets (3-2)

LW – 10: In our eyes, there’s a big drop off after number five — not necessarily a bad thing when you consider that the CBA has enjoyed Grand Canyon-esque rifts between the have and have-nots since its inception in 1995. And speaking of have and have-nots, the Rockets have won every game at home (3-0). They have not won one game away (0-2). That trend won’t continue along that extreme line, but the Army’s home/away discrepancy, much like last year, will be something to keep an eye on.

7. Liaoning Hengye Jaguars (3-4)

LW – 11: Yeah, you’re in the playoffs, Liaoning, but it’s tough for us to excited about a team that can’t put together back-to-back wins. Since opening up his Sina Weibo account last week, Zhang Qingpeng is averaging 12 points a game. The lesson: opening up a Sina Weibo has only a minimal effect on struggling players. Bummer. The bigger bummer here though is Guo Ailun’s scanty 16 minutes per game average so far.

8. Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons (2-3)

LW – 6: Another team with loads of talent that hasn’t been able to win two games in a row. Despite having three studs, Marcus Williams, Charles Gaines and Duan Jiangpeng, the Brave Dragons are always going to be at somewhat of a loss because supporting players Zhang Xuewen, Shang Ping and Liu Shaoming are inconsistent. The roller coaster ride is going to continue, but we still think their Big Three is good enough to get into the post-season.

9. DongGuan New Century Leopards (3-4)

LW – 17: Shame on us for ever doubting Brian Goorjian. The Leopards’ three-game (and nearly four if they didn’t give one away to Beijing in Round 4) win streak is due in big part to Shavlik Randolph’s 25.5 points and 14.3 rebounds over that stretch, but who are we kidding. It’s obviously due to the fact that the entire team posted up last week’s power rankings, which had them last, on their locker-room bulletin board.

10. Fujian SBS Sturgeons (3-4)

LW – 13: Fujian’s on a two game win streak. They have five guys averaging double figures. Will McDonald is having the most underrated season of any foreigner out here (roughly 26 and 10 a night). They have Zaid Abbas. They have, what we think, is a playoff contending team. Trust us, they’ll be right there.


11. Jilin SBT Northeast Tigers (3-4)

LW – 7: Do Chinese coaches have it in for promising Chinese point-guards? Like his young 2010 FIBA World Championship teammate, Guo Ailun, Yu Shulong is collecting splinters. Since the DongBei Tigers have turned the ball over more than 20 times in their last two games, maybe more Yu would be a good thing.

12. Shanghai Dongfang Sharks (2-4)

LW – 15: Just when it looked like our man Andrew Crawford had an article about a three-game win streak in the books, the Sharks went out and got blown out by Liaoning on Sunday. Anyways, we think the Sharks are onto something. Either that our we’re just super biased. But it’s all starting on the defensive end. Mike Harris is leading the league in rebounds, and the team is holding opponents to a stingy 91 points per game so far.

13. Shandong Kingston Gold Lions (3-4)

LW – 5: In his last 79 minutes, Sun Jie has five points. Yeah, five. Definitely not the norm for a guy who is usually on fire from deep. Sun’s alarming recent lack of offense is directly related to the Gold Lions’ even more alarming 89.7 ppg, last in the league. In seven games, they have yet to crack the 100 point mark once, an unsettling statistic in a league that plays with a high pace.

14. Qingdao Double Star Eagles (2-5)

LW – 14: Congrats on beating Guangdong, but it still doesn’t mean Qingdao is a playoff team. It does mean, however, that Lester Hudson can go the heck off from at any given game. And for that reason alone, Qingdao will win some games. But their Chinese talent remains as one of the league’s worst and until they get their import big-man situation settled (Ivan Johnson was the second American sent home this year for the Eagles), they’re going to remain in tough shape.

15. Jiangsu Nangang Dragons (2-5)

LW – 11: By far the most disappointing team of the season, Jiangsu started at four pre-season, dropped to 11 at the first week and is now at lowly 15. As is always the case, the foreigner was blamed first after Dragons management finally got Mardy Collins on a plane back to the States. Jiangsu started slow last year with Ricky Davis before they brought in Antoine Wright as his replacement; is Marcus Williams (the UCONN one) this year’s savior?

 

16. Tianjin Ronggang Golden Lions (2-5)

LW – 8: Yeah, remember when we had them at number eight last week? Yeah, well we were really, really off on that.


17. Guangdong Foshan Dralions (2-5)

LW – 15: Gerald Green is out and Marcus Haislip is in. It’s not a bad idea at all — Haislip can definitely play — but we wonder if it’s going to be their last. Marcus Douthit has been putting up decent numbers, yet is he the right fit alongside Haislip? This team needs a guard and fast.

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Foshan, Jiangsu switch imports for Round 6

December 2, 2011

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With just over 15% of the season in the books, two underperforming teams are looking to shake up their imports in an attempt to turn things around.

Yesterday, both Jiangsu Nangang and Guangdong Foshan announced the signings of two new imports. Jiangsu will bring on point guard Marcus Williams, while Foshan will add forward Marcus Haislip.

For Jiangsu, the plan to bring in another guard was inevitable. The team had been cold on the guy they originally signed, Mardy Collins, since the pre-season and were close to signing Luther Head in Round 2 before Head suffered an ankle injury. Perhaps motivated by the rumors, Collins picked up his play the last two games. He scored 28 in a win against DongGuan in Round 3 and in Round 4 against Fujian, also a win, he put up a great all-around effort with 28 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists and 7 steals. In the end though, Jiangsu’s mind had already been made — citing an injury, Jiangsu kept Collins in Nanjing and out of the lineup for the team’s road loss against Xinjiang on Wednesday.

In four games, Collins averaged 21.5 points, 7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.8 steals.

Williams, a former UCONN product and former 22nd overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft, spent four years in the NBA from 2006-10, playing for the New Jersey Nets, Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies. In August 2010, he signed in Russia with BC Enisey Krasnoyarsk. In 27 games, he averaged 14.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists.

The move could be an indication that Jiangsu is worried about the health of their longtime point guard and primary ball handler, Hu Xuefeng. Knowing that they can rely on Hu to run the show, Jiangsu has almost always gone with two big men or one big and one wing player in years past. But the 31 year-old isn’t what he once was — he has been battling a variety of ailments over the years, most recently a knee. On Wednesday against Xinjiang, Hu only played four minutes. Without Collins and Yi Li, who was out with a throat, head coach Xu Qiang may have held back Hu in an effort to save him for more winnable games down the road. However, at least in our minds, Williams’ arrival says something about Hu’s role with the team this season. Expect to see either his minutes cut down, or his position switch to a more off the ball role.

The Marcus Williams who will play for Jiangsu is not to be confused with the Marcus Williams who currently plays for Shanxi — they’re two completely different players. Keep that well in mind, because the two will be going up against each other tonight when Shanxi and Jiangsu play in Taiyuan.

Meanwhile Foshan, who has also has started the season slow at 1-3, is going through with a change of their own, swapping out Gerald Green for Haislip. Chinese fans, especially ones hailing from Guangdong province, should be quite familiar with the versatile and athletic 6’10 forward. Haislip spent last season with CBA champions, Guangdong, averaging 22.6 points and 6.6 rebounds in the regular season last year. But he came on strong in the playoffs, especially in the Finals. In an epic championship-clinching Game 6, Haislip went 7-8 from three en route to a game-high 35 points.

In four games, Green averaged 26.5 points and 4 rebounds.

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CBA Power Rankings: Week 1 (11/19-11/29)

November 30, 2011

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*Last night’s game featuring Liaoning and Shandong was not counted. These rankings are as of yesterday afternoon.

1. Beijing Shougang Ducks (4-0)

Last week – 8: An undefeated start to the year that includes a win over four-time defending champs Guangdong? That’s more than enough in our book for our vaunted number one spot. Whether the Ducks can stay here will depend on what happens when they host Xinjiang on Friday.


2. Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers (3-1)

LW – 1: The loss to Beijing (at home nonetheless) stings, but it’s the loss of Yi Jianlian, who is heading back to the re-opened NBA in about a week, is the loss that will linger the longest. Or maybe not — after all, Guangdong has been winning titles for the last four years without Ah Lian.



 

3. Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers (1-1)
LW – 2: Lost in the J.R. drama — the Flying Tigers have already equaled their loss total from last year. As evidenced by their shocking season opening defeat against Shanxi, no team relies on its imports more than Xinjiang. But the good news is that Quincy Douby’s replacement, Patty Mills, who came in and blitzed Bayi for 28 points and 8 dimes on Friday, looks like the real deal.

 

4. Zhejiang Guangsha Lions (3-1)
LW – 5: Hangzhou’s favorite Puerto Rican 7’3 center, Peter John Ramos, is back for another go after having officially replaced the struggling Dwyane Jones. Assuming that he’ll be his usual enormous self under the basket, Guangsha just got better — a scary thought when you put that in context with Wilson Chandler’s dominant 33 point and 13 rebound start to the year.

 

5. Shandong Kingston Gold Lions (3-1)
LW – 13: Thanks to Othello Hunter, Shandong has been destroying opponents on the offensive glass, grabbing 20 or more in all three of their wins. Alan Anderson has opened up a masonry (35% from the field), but Sun Jie and Sui Ran have picked up the slack to put the Lions — at least for now — in second place in the official CBA standings.

 


6. Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons (1-1)

LW -6: If Shanxi’s up-and-down two-game swing against a sub-par Fujian team (loss) and a championship contender Xinjiang outfit (win) is any indication of what’s in store for the Brave Dragons this season, it’s going to be another unpredictable year in Taiyuan.



 


7. Jilin GBT Northeast Tigers (2-2)

LW – 9: As expected, Cartier Martin has turned into a scoring machine, averaging 29.2 points in his first four games. But if Jilin is going to stay in the playoff discussion, they’re going to need more production and in some cases, more minutes (that’s you, Yu Shulong) from their Chinese guys, none of whom at the moment are hitting double figure scoring.



 


8. Tianjin Ronggang Golden Lions (2-2)

LW – 17: Want more proof that this season’s opening week has been arguably the most surprising in league history? Tianjin, who we picked as the CBA’s hands down worst team heading into the season, is sitting in a playoff spot four games into the year.



 

9. Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls (2-1)
LW – 3: J.R. Smith’s very well documented near break-up-to-make-up stole all the storylines last week, which is a shame because Josh Boone’s out-of-nowhere 40 point, 8 rebound explosion against Fujian deserved more press than it got.



 


10. Bayi Fubang Rockets (2-1)
LW – 10: Adijiang has taken the reigns off of the previously plodding Rockets offense, allowing them to play faster and freer. Games against Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Beijing will tell us whether or not that change is going to allow them to move into playoff contention.



 

11. Jiangsu Nangang Dragons (2-2)
LW – 4: Once again, the Dragons are off to a slow start and once again, there’s a lot of talk about switching imports, mainly Mardy Collins. After dropping their first two games to Guangdong and Liaoning, the Dragons rebounded with two straight wins against DongGuan and Fujian. Jiangsu’s got the local talent (Yi Li, Meng Da and Hu Xuefeng) to stay relevant and once they get their import situation in order, they’ll be an upper-echelon team. 

 

12. Liaoning Hengye Jaguars (2-2)
LW – 7: Liaoning is off to a mediocre up-and-down 2-2 start, but the real news here is that we’ve finally cracked the case of their English mascot. Goodbye “Innovators” and hello “Jaguars!” We’re happy with our top-notch investigative work, but we’re even happier that we successfully anticipated the forward-thinking Liaoning provincial powers that be that came up with Jaguars. With the addition of the Jags, the league now has one jaguar, two dragons, three tigers, three lions and one half-dragon/half-lion.

 


13. Fujian SBS Sturgeons (1-3)
LW- 12: The Sturgeons followed up a highly promising home win against Shanxi with three straight losses on the road to Bayi, Zhejiang and Jiangsu. Anthony Roberson has shown an ability to both win and lose games for his team single-handedly with his volume shooting. If Fujian has playoff ambitions, he’ll have to become more consistent and/or a bit choosier with his shot selection.

 

14. Qingdao Double Star Eagles (1-3)
LW – 14: Just like we thought, Lester Hudson is going to put up an outrageous number of shots and points, but the Eagles’ domestic talent isn’t going to be enough to lift them to anything beyond a middling team. Ivan Johnson has looked good in all three of his games with the Eagles so far.



 

15. Guangdong Foshan Dralions (1-2)
LW – 16: A favorable early season match-up against Shanghai is the only thing keeping the Dralions from bringing up the rear right now. Gerald Green is arguably the league’s best first-half player, but when he’s matched up against better import guards in the second half, Green has come up empty almost every time.



 


16. Shanghai Dongfang Sharks (0-3)
LW – 15: Late game giveaways to Foshan, Shandong and Qingdao have left people scratching their heads for the second straight year in a row as to why the Sharks can’t get it done in the fourth quarter.



 

17. DongGuan New Century Leopards (0-4)
LW - 11: As longtime commentator Su Quan generously put it during the Leopards heartbreaking loss to the Ducks on Sunday, Shavlik Randolph is a level below Jackson Vroman. Josh Akognon’s shot selection isn’t helping either. Unless a change is made, it promises to be a long season in DongGuan.

 

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Bothfeld: Balanced attack leads Guangsha to victory

November 29, 2011

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In the first three games of the season, the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions’ offense rested solely upon the shoulders of Wilson Chandler – perhaps too much. In Friday’s  loss to Shandong, Chandler scored a casual 42 points while none of his teammates reached double figures. With the Shandong game serving as an example, this unbalanced attack proved to be an unsustainable winning formula.

The Lions entered Round 4’s match-up against Foshan with a different strategy. In the first quarter, Chandler took only two shots, mostly deferring and trying to get his teammates going. This strategy faltered, however, as Guangsha’s offense still lacked any rhythm and they trailed by 13 going into the second quarter.

With Chandler on the bench for the second quarter, the Lions’ offense finally came alive; Jin Lipeng hit multiple three-pointers and Lin Chih-chieh’s continued to make plays at the rim and Guangsha outscored Foshan 32-25 to trim the halftime deficit to six. Gerald Green accounted for 20 of Foshan’s 25 second quarter points. He had the crowd’s undivided attention as he kept Guangsha’s defense on their heels, scoring on quick moves to the basket and calmly hitting jumpers from all over the court.

While he seemed unstoppable in the second quarter, Green was guarded by Chandler in the second half and struggled, scoring only nine points. Chandler’s defense on Green sparked Guangsha and they played with a defensive intensity that was missing in their first three games. After the game Coach Jim Cleamons noted, “They scored 60 points in the first half and only 39 in the second.”

With their defense forcing turnovers and the offense flowing freely, Guangsha chipped away at Foshan’s lead until the six-minute mark in the fourth, when Jin Lipeng hit two free-throws to give Guangsha their first lead of the game. Foshan never recovered and managed only 10 points in the fourth quarter and fell to the Lions, 109-116.

Offensively, Guangsha was much more balanced with nine players scoring, four of which in double figures. After a silent first-half, Chandler became noticeably more aggressive in the second half, scoring all 22 of his points on only 16 shots. The Lions were paced, however, by Jin, who scored a team-high 25 points. Dwayne Jones even got in the offensive assault and scored 13 points to go along with his 14 rebounds (8 offensive).

NiuBBall had the opportunity to catch up with Jones after the game. “I’m still trying to get accustomed to the offense. I know I can do a lot better than I have been doing offensively”. Added Coach Jim Cleamons, “He played well.”

In recent weeks there has been speculation that Jones could be replaced. That speculation has proven to be true, as Guangsha announced that they are bringing back Peter John Ramos, who spent the last two seasons playing in Hangzhou, to replace Jones.

At 3-1, Guangsha will hit the road to play a struggling Shanghai Sharks team on Wednesday.

Follow Edward Bothfeld on Twitter @bothfeef

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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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Breaking down the 2011-12 CBA schedule

November 18, 2011

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Thumbs up if you’re excited to watch Xinjiang – Guangdong in December. (Photo: Osports)

China can be complicated and foreign place to the newly arrived; the Chinese Basketball Association arguably more so. So to make things easier for those who are new to the China basketball game, we’ve broken down the 2011-12 schedule and not only bolded each interesting match-up, we’ve italicized them as well. That’s how excited we are about the season starting up.

We’re also excited about the latest addition to NiuBBall, Andrew Crawford. Andrew is based in Shanghai, where he’s recently started his own blog about the Shanghai Sharks, Shark Fin Hoops. He also writes for one of NiuBBall’s comrades, Wild East Football, the only English-speaking/writing website about Chinese soccer.

He’ll be checking in from Shanghai frequently this season with Sharks updates, analysis and first-hand accounts from every home game. Working in combination with our man in Hangzhou, Edward Bothfeld, who will have the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions on equal lock this year, and NiuBBall is looking way more… well, niu bi, than ever.

And if you’re not new to the CBA, take these viewing recommendations as you will and of course, if you’re into leaving comments, feel free to leave some of your own opinions on some intriguing games this season.

Round 4: Zhejiang Chouzhou @ Xinjiang (11/27)

Former teammates in Denver, J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin, match-up in what should be a very entertaining encounter in Urumqi. J.R. has vowed to put up nightly triple-doubles while he’s here in China — if he’s going to live up that claim, he’ll possibly have to do it at the expense of K-Mart, who very well could switch onto him in the second half if Swish is ripping the nets.

Jon Pastuszek

Round 5: Zhejiang Chouzhou @ Shanxi (11/29)

As evidenced by his 30-point, 10-rebound and 10-assist stat-line in only one half of a preseason game, J.R. Smith can fill it up. Even in the NBA, he was known as one of the best pure scorers in the league. On November 29th he will make a visit to Shanxi Zhongyu and square off head to head with last year’s scoring champ, Charles Gaines, who will be looking to defend his title.

NiuBBall’s guess? Smith: 53 points, Gaines: 44.

Edward Bothfeld

Round 6: Liaoning @ Zhejiang Guangsha (12/6)

On December 6th, Josh Powell of Liaoning Panpan will visit his former assistant coach, Jim Cleamons, who is now the head coach of Zhejiang Guangsha. Powell and Cleamons were together with the L.A. Lakers for their back-to-back title runs in 2009 and 2010.  Both will be trying to use their championship experience to elevate their respective teams to the upper-echelon of the CBA. On this night they will have to put their personal relationship on the backburner to focus on willing their teams to victory.

Edward Bothfeld

Round 8: Shanghai @ Guangdong (12/7)

Guangdong did an accomplished job of disposing of the Sharks in their recent preseason clash and will be looking to repeat the feat come round eight.  The headline will be the clash between the former face of Chinese basketball, Yao Ming, here embodied by the team he now owns, and his heir apparent, Guangdong’s Yi Jianlian.

The Tigers, who can also call upon the services of players like experienced National Teamers, Zhu Fangyu, Wang Shipeng and Zhou Peng, as well as forward James Singleton, are amongst the favourites to take home the CBA title come the spring. Their home clash with the Sharks will be a test of their championship credentials and Guangdong will have to be weary of a Shanghai team that are more than capable of causing an upset.

Andrew Crawford

Round 13: Foshan @ Zhejiang Chouzhou (12/18)

Who’s the better dunker? Gerald Green won the 2007 NBA Dunk Contest by doing a windmill over a table. The next year, he blew out a candle stuck inside of a cupcake perched on top of the rim. J.R. Smith went behind his back while in the air in 2009 and caught a 360 alley-oop during a game in 2010.

Either choice is fine with me. But if you’re still undecided, watch their game on December 18th in Yiwu, where there should be dunks galore.

Jon Pastuszek

Round 15: Zhejiang Guangsha @ Zhejiang Chouzhou (12/23) 

The first battle in the war for Zhejiang provincial supremacy will take place on December 23rd. Last season, the two games between these bitter rivals was decided by a combined nine points (which by CBA standards is remarkably low). During the off-season, Zhejiang Guangsha and Zhejiang Chouzhou both signed high profile NBA players to the roster, Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith, respectively. Fans always bring a lot of energy to this match-up, and as teammates last season in the NBA, expect Chandler and Smith to bring their best efforts in a game of provincial and personal importance.

Edward Bothfeld

Round 15: Xinjiang @ Guangdong (12/23), Round 29: Guangdong @ Xinjiang (2/3)

In a league has seldom, if ever, enjoys any amount of parity or excitement, in its 16 year history, either in the regular season or the playoffs, the Xinjiang-Guangdong rivalry should feel like the Super Bowl, Hannukah, your 21st birthday, March Madness, Thanksgiving, the NBA Finals, Christmas Day and New Year’s all wrapped into one.

The two teams have met up in the Finals each of the last three seasons, the latest of which turned into intense series went to six games. Once again, the result went to Guangdong. But, not content to give up on their title aspiration, Xinjiang spent almost $US 10 million to bring over Bob Donewald Jr., Kenyon Martin and Tang Zhengdong among others to put them over the hump. In an attempt to one-up their northwestern rivals in the summer arms race, Guangdong signed locked-out Yi Jianlian and Aaron Books, and former Flying Tiger James Singleton.

Finally, the CBA’s champion isn’t pre-determined. These two teams will meet again for a fourth time at the Finals in March. We, like every other CBA fan, can’t wait.

Jon Pastuszek

Round 16: Beijing @ Shanghai (12/25), Round 33: Shanghai @ Beijing (2/12)

Depending on who you talk to, one of these cities is a cold, stuffy, bureaucratic smog hole, whilst the other is a noisy neighbor with no history, tradition or class. The Shanghai and Beijing populaces love to beat each other in anything and everything so these two fixtures will generate a lot of interest in both cities.

Fittingly, the first skirmish will be played on Christmas Day and the visiting Beijing players can look forward to a variety of festive heckles about their mothers’ sexual preferences and the Ducks’ overall lack of talent. The opposition, plus the visit of Stephon Marbury will ensure a bumper crowd at the Yunshan. Moreover, the return visit to the Celestial City will be so late in the season that it may well have play-off implications, not only for the two sides on the court but other teams around them in the CBA rankings.

Andrew Crawford

Round 22: Xinjiang @ Jiangsu (1/8/)

Tang Zhengdong, who finally got out of Jiangsu after years of pouting, returns to play against the team that he’s played with his entire basketball career. Oh, and it could also be a pretty good game, too. Even without Tang, Jiangsu still has a nice squad led by National Team up-and-comer, Yi Li, and local products Hu Xuefeng and Meng Da.

Jon Pastuszek

Round 24: Beijing @ Shanxi (1/13)

Shanxi’s favorite foreign son, Stephon Marbury, returns to play for the team that he started his Chinese career with. The divorce was a messy one, but Steph and the city of Taiyuan still have lots of mutual love for each other.

–Jon Pastuszek

Round 25: Jiangsu @ Zhejiang Chouzhou (1/15)

Jiangsu eliminated Chozhou from the first round of the playoffs last year thanks to an incredible Antoine Wright buzzer beater — and a hometown time-keeper who started the clock about two seconds too late. With a chance for some revenge, Chouzhou coaches, players and fans are likely to have this rematch circled in bold on their schedules.

Jon Pastuszek

Round 30: Guangdong @ DongGuan (2/5)

The local DongGuan derby has always been must-see down in basketball-crazed Guangdong province, but the always one-sided rivalry took a competitive turn for the better last year as DongGuan transformed from an occasional playoff team into a legitimate semi-finals contender. For the first time in years, the Leopards beat their crosstown rivals last season in an epic overtime encounter in December. They met in the semi-finals, but by then key import Jackson Vroman had already suffered a season ending injury, and what could have been a great series ended undramatically with a 4-1 Guangdong triumph.

After having lost a few players this year, DongGuan won’t be as good as they were last year, but there’s still enough intrigue left to make this a good game.

Jon Pastuszek

Round 31: Xinjiang @ Liaoning (2/8)

Current National Team head man, Bob Donewald, who coaches Xinjiang domestically, and Liaoning’s Guo Shiqiang, the guy who Donewald replaced, don’t like each other. The two cursed at each other in English and in Chinese from opposite sides of the scorers table last year in a game at Shanghai, an altercation that nearly turned into a fist fight. The two’s relationship has detoriated so much as a result, that some people speculated Donewald cut every Liaoning player from the National Team roster as a way to stick it to Guo.

It’ll be Donewald’s first trip to Liaoning since the incident and I’m sure the fans will have something for him when he gets there.

Jon Pastuszek

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