Often when talking about the Chinese Basketball Association, we discuss players who would do better if they played elsewhere, whether professionally in Europe or other places of the world, or collegiately in America.
But, Andrew Lowman over at Asia Basketball Update is wondering who should be playing in the CBA:
With all of the action of well-known NBA players bouncing in and out of China this season I got to thinking about which players which players should be playing there. Part of the issue I see is that the CBA teams have felt that an NBA stint on the resume was enough to fill their arenas and take their teams to the top of the standings. This is not the case anymore. So then who should be coming over to play?
That got us thinking. Here’s what we came up with:
Sun Yue: Sun is Chinese, starts for the Chinese National Team and has played for the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s a 6-9 guard who causes a lot of match-up problems against vertically challenged opposing perimeter lineups, not by doing the things most tall guards do on offense (posting up, backing guys down), but by recently figuring out how to drive and dish, and also — somewhat shockingly if we may add — how to shoot the crap out of the ball from three.
So why isn’t he playing in the CBA? Because he plays for Winston Lee and Beijing Aoshen, one of the weirdest professional teams in the entire world. Instead of playing in China’s national professional league, Sun has been relegated to playing in an international invitational basketball tournament in his home province of Hebei, where he racks up 44 points against the San Francisco Rumble.
Yeah, we think Sun should be playing in the CBA, too.
Hamed Haddadi: Really tall and relatively skilled, the 7-3 Iranian center, despite being under contract with the Memphis Grizzlies, has made his name mostly on the international scene in recent years. Since most of those international matches have come in and/or against Team China, Chinese fans are quite familiar with him. In 2007, Haddadi led Iran to their first ever FIBA Asia Championship in Japan, though with Team China’s place in the 2008 Beijing Olympics already having been booked as the host nation, the the 14-time champs sent out their “B Team” and finished in 7th.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Haddadi followed up his success in Japan by becoming the only player to average a double-double (16.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks) in the competition. His excellent individual play on the world stage led the Grizzlies to sign him to a three-year deal.
After only playing 120 minutes in his NBA rookie season, Haddadi rejoined Team Iran for their FIBA Asian Championship title defense in Tianjin, China. Against a Yao Ming-less China that was otherwise at full-strength, Haddadi went for 19 points and 17 rebounds in a 70-52 drubbing of the host nation in the finals, securing Iran’s first back-to-back Asian Championship and capturing tournament MVP.
With Haddadi’s contract with Memphis due to expire this summer, its unclear what the 25 year-old has in his plans for next year. Now in his third year with the team, he’s still been unable to secure a spot in Lionel Hollins’ regular rotation. If he were to bolt from his usual spot on the bench to a league where he could play and develop more, China would be a place to consider. The money’s good, the season is short and the playing time would be ample. And if he was signed as an Asian import next year by one of the teams who finished in the bottom four this year, he could play unlimited minutes alongside two other imports.
If he were to play professionally in Asia outside of his native Iran, he’d likely have to receive a pretty big salary, but if the league and teams are serious about attracting the best talent in Asia to the CBA, Haddadi should be at the top of their list this offseason. The problem is however, Haddadi would also probably be at the top of several big name European clubs’ wish list this summer — Partizan Belgrade and Barcelona reportedly both made unsuccessful attempts to sign him in years past, and if he were to hit the open market, its likely that teams with similar reputations would also try to attract his services.
Sebastian Telfair: You know who his cousin is, right?
And now we ask you, our beloved readers: Have we missed anyone? Who else should be playing in China?