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Tag Archives: Josh Boone

The definitive CBA preview

November 22, 2012


Stephon Marbury and the Beijing Ducks won the title last year… But will they have enough to repeat in 2012-13? (Photo: Osports)

Moreso than ever, the Chinese Basketball Association has become quite difficult to predict pre-season.

It’s hard to predict first of all because we generally stink at predictions, but more importantly that the league is as deep as its ever been top-to-bottom. There’s a more than a few reasons for that — more off-season player movement, more players going abroad to train in the summer, better coaching in-country, a commitment to strength and conditioning programs and better foreign players all round out the top of our list. But the end result of all that should be a very watchable and exciting league this season. Which is a good thing for us fans, of course.

Bad thing for NiuBBall’s annual predictions, however.

By our count, there’s 11 and possibly 12 teams (depending on how well you think Tracy McGrady is going to do in Qingdao) who have a shot at the playoffs. That’s well over half the league. If you think DongGuan is ready to make a jump (we do), then there are now four teams who could sport legitimate Finals cases. Building on Beijing’s buck-the-trend run to a championship last year, there appears to be a level of parody in the league. Pencilling in the top two, top four and top eight is no longer easy.

So as always, take what is about to come with a grain of salt and know that most likely this will all be very wrong.


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CBA Round 29 Recap

February 5, 2012


Guangsha – 69 @  Xinjiang – 99

Once towards the top of the standings, is Guangsha even going to make the playoffs? That’s the question after the Lions were blown out in Urumqi on Friday. After rebounding with a strong game in Round 28, Wilson Chandler reverted back to passively shooting jump shots, finishing 4-16 for 10 points.

The game was never close. Xinjiang’s Tim Pickett got off to a hot start and continued to stay aggressive on offense, scoring 35 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Gani Lawal contributed with 15 points and eight boards and Mengke Bateer put in 15. The win is Xinjiang’s fourth straight and puts them in seventh place, while Guangsha drops to sixth.

Guangsha feeds of Chandler, who when he wants to be is the toughest individual matchup in the league. However, a long-term NBA deal likely on the table whenever he returns to the NBA, Chandler’s priority appears to lie within maintaining his health in preparation for his big payday.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Shanghai – 108 @ Shanxi – 119

The Shanghai Sharks came, they saw, they got lit up. Shanxi’s high scoring duo of Marcus Williams and Charles Gaines did exactly what their guests were hoping they wouldn’t and blew Shanghai away with some red-hot shooting. After a plucky first half from the Sharks, the Shanxi Brave Dragons’ demolition men coolly stepped up a gear and promptly ripped the Sharks asunder with a devastating final twenty minutes of huge threes, marauding drives to the basket and some deft low post action. It was not pleasant viewing for a Shanghai fan.

Although the Sharks limped their way over the hundred-point mark themselves, the margin of defeat was telling and the visitors now make their way back to Shanghai after eventually losing 119-108 to a rampant Shanxi team that is almost certainly bound for the playoffs. Williams finished on 44 points, Gaines got 37 of his own whilst Ren Junhui’s 11 points meant he also got in on the double-digit party for Shanxi.

Meanwhile Mike Harris picked up a double-double of 37 points and 12 rebounds for Shanghai, Marcus Landry got 23 points and Liu Ziqiu continued his quiet resurgence with a gutsy 14 points but the Sharks now have to win four from their final five games to have any chance of making it to the postseason. Tough times just become a lot tougher.

Andrew Crawford

Box Score

Liaoning – 94 @ DongGuan – 107

DongGuan got 35 points and 16 boards from Shavlik Randolph and Josh Akognon had 27 as they beat visiting Liaoning by 13 at home. Thanks to Randolph’s activity in the frontcourt, DongGuan went +7 on the offensive glass and forced the visiting squad into 10-27 from the three-point line. The Jaguars, who have won just two road games the whole year, got nothing out of Josh Powell, who played only 16 minutes, picking up four points and three rebounds. At 14-13, they have put themselves out of the playoff picture and could slip further if they lose tonight at Fujian.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Shandong – 115 @ Zhejiang – 121 (OT)

Alan Anderson shot an amazing 42 shots to tally 54 points, but his individual shootaround wasn’t enough for Shandong to come up with the win. J.R. Smith shot 29 shots to get 41, but Zhejiang’s balanced support in Josh Boone (19 points), Ding Jinhui (15) and Chang Chunjun (13).

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Jilin – 96 @ Fujian – 109 

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Tianjin – 112 @ Beijing – 122

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Qingdao – 97 @ Jiangsu – 92

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Bayi – 116 @ Foshan – 106

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CBA Round 26 and Round 4 Make-ups Recap

January 23, 2012


Round 26: (January 18th)

Zhejiang – 92 @ Beijing – 103

Stephon Marbury put down arguably the best single-game performance of the season — and his case for CBA MVP — with a super efficient 45 point, 12 rebound, 11 assist triple-double as the Ducks took out J.R. Smith and the visiting Golden Bulls in Beijing.

Losing by five heading into the fourth quarter, Beijing outscored their opponents 28-14 to snatch the win. Much of that was through Marbury, who put in two separate personal runs of five and seven straight points. Marbury, who played 43 minutes in all, turned the ball over only once, shooting 15-29 from the field and 10-12 from the free-throw line.

J.R. had himself a nice individual game with 39 points and eight rebounds, but only finished with one assist.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Guangdong – 100 @ Guangsha – 97

Once considered title contenders, Guangsha slipped further down the standings after losing their sixth in seven games, with the latest loss being dealt by league powerhouse, Guangdong.

Up for most of the first half, Guangsha seemed poised to put their string of bad results behind them. But, Guangdong came out firing in the third quarter with 38 points to put them up by a comfortable margin before the home team made it slightly interesting in the fourth. Wilson Chandler continued his offense anemia, shooting a ghastly 1-10 from three en route to a ho-hum 24 points.

Aaron Brooks finished as Guangdong’s high scorer with 26, while Wang Shipeng and Zhu Fangyu did their job offensively with 24 and 23 points respectively.

With the win, Guangdong becomes the first team to clinch a playoff spot and once again look like the strong favorites to win the title.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

DongGuan – 97 @ Shanghai – 110

For now at least, normal service at the Yuanshen has been resumed as the Shanghai Sharks eased to victory over the DongGuan Leopards. Mike Harris returned to the line-up after the death of his brother and conjured up a sensation performance to help Shanghai beat their guests, 110-97. The away side struggled to contain their hosts’ forwards and Shavlik Randolph failed to get any momentum going in a game where he was mercilessly heckled by the home crowd from start to finish. The Sharks keep their winning record going into the New Year break and now stand at 13-11 with eight games to go in the regular season.

To top of an emotional night, a last-second substitution allowed Harris to get an ovation from the crowd, the coaching staff and the owner himself, Yao Ming as the game clocked faded to zero. The returning Sharks forward had picked up 38 points and 12 rebounds while Marcus Landry (24), Liu Wei (18) and Liu Ziqiu (14) also had themselves double-digit shooting nights. For DongGuan, five Leopards players also got significant hauls; Josh Akognon (24 points), Randolph (23), Qiu Biao (15), Qu Guan (11) and Zhang Kai (10).

In his press conference after the game, Dan Panaggio was keen to congratulate Harris on his gutsy performance, noting that the forward had arrived back in Shanghai at around 3:30pm that day and had got himself to the game 30 minutes before the tip-off. ‘He just wanted to get back to his team’, added the Sharks coach, before revealing that Zhang Zhaoxu had persuaded him to sub Harris off so that the American could get his ovation from the crowd. Equally, Panaggio looked relieved to have got the victory to keep the Sharks in contention for a play-off spot but was also keen to stress that there was still several crucial games to come once the season restarts on January 29th. ‘I’m grateful to have won this game…but our job is still in front of us and it is a difficult one’.

Andrew Crawford

Box Score

Xinjiang – 98 @ Shandong – 104

The Flying Tigers made it 0-2 on their two-game Shandong roadtrip, losing to a struggling Shandong team three days after getting spanked by Qingdao. Xirelijiang, who kept Alan Anderson under 10 points in the two team’s first encounter earlier in the year, wasn’t given a chance to guard the former Michigan State standout and Anderson responded with 32 rather effortless points. Othello Hunter pitched in with 22 points and 10 boards.

It was Xinjiang’s 11th road loss of the year, tying them for the worst road record in the league.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Liaoning – 91 @ Jilin – 99

Liaoning’s inconsistency reared its ugly head again in Jilin after the Jaguars came up empty against non-playoff outfit Jilin on the road. Cartier Martin did it to the visitors with 38 points and seven rebounds. Osama Dahglas nearly missed out on a triple-double, going for 15 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists.

Josh Powell, who has been the subject of constant rumors the last couple of weeks, managed only two points and nine rebounds. Though Liaoning has one of the more talented domestic rosters, they’ll need much more from their American big man if they’re to have any shot of advancing in the post-season in March.

–Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Shanxi – 110 @ Qingdao – 106

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Bayi – 98 @ Tianjin – 110

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Fujian – 110 @ Foshan – 100

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Round 4 Make-Ups (January 20th)

Zhejiang @ Xinjiang


Xinjiang and Zhejiang played a very physical and intense match that ended with Xinjiang coming out on top. Gani Lawal, who sat for most of the first half after the Flying Tigers got off to a slow start offensively, came back with a vengeance and then some in the second, scoring 20 points and grabbing 21 rebounds, 14 of which came on the offensive end, in just 28 minutes. Tim Pickett had a nice game as well, finishing with 32-6-6.

Entertaining throughout, the game ultimately unraveled in the end for Chouzhou because Josh Boone and J.R. Smith both fouled out with over four minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the latter fouling out on an offensive foul. Frustrated at the referees, who let a lot of physical play under the basket slide, Smith whipped the basketball at the nearest referee, which resulted in his second technical of the game. He got his first earlier in the third quarter after he jawed back and forth with Lawal. Smith had a number of incredible individual plays, including an off-the-wrong-foot slam that he powered home after dismissing three defenders with a slick crossover. He finished with 41 points, but came up goose eggs in the assist department.

–Jon Pastuszek

Box Score (Chinese)

Bayi – 105 @ Shanxi – 109

Box Score (Chinese)

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CBA Round 6 Recap

December 5, 2011


Xinjiang – 97 @ Beijing – 99

Is Beijing for real? That was the question heading into the Ducks’ Friday night nationally televised home game against perennial title contender, Xinjiang.

The answer: A definitive yes.

Beijing’s 18-point halftime lead stood up to a furious fourth quarter rally, and now Beijing is standing alone in first place, two games up on both Xinjiang and Guangdong. Zhu Yanxi (13 points), Chen Lei (16), Stephon Marbury (18) and Randolph Morris (22) combined to once again create a balanced offensive attack that spread their opponents out and made them pay from the outside. Before the final buzzer, seven different Beijing players hit a three-pointer in a 13-24 team effort.

As is becoming the norm, Xinjiang got off to a slow start in the first quarter and were down three heading into the break. But instead of regrouping at the interval, they temporarily collapsed, scoring only 11 points in the second quarter while giving up 26 on offense.

But the Flying Tigers eventually found their championship form in the fourth quarter. Patty Mills, who finished with a game high 32 points, became more aggressive on offense and Kenyon Martin, 22 points and 11 rebounds, played like a maniac on the defensive end, and with under a minute Xinjiang went up by one point. Xu Guozhong had a wide open three that would have put Xinjiang up four with under thirty seconds left, but it rimmed out. Lee Hsueh-lin came down with the loose ball and was fouled in the chaos of the play. He hit both to put Beijing up one. Chen went one of two from the line after Mills missed another three. The third chance wasn’t the charm for Mills either, however, as he missed a tough running lay-up with under ten seconds left that was nearly tipped in by Martin.

Beijing has been on the right end of three down-to-the-wire games, which may indicate a degree of luck to some, but this team is for real. With bigs Ji Zhe and Zhu Yanxi able to stretch the floor with their shooting, Marbury has all the lanes he needs to get into the paint and make this happen, and Morris can have some room to operate in the high post. They’ve got a nice blend of local and foreign talent — Beijing is a definite top four team this year.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Bayi – 91 @ Zhejiang – 113

J.R. Smith put together one of the stupidest box scores ever seen… well, ever: 52 points, 22 rebounds, 7 steals, 4 assists. And he almost took off Xu Zhonghao’s head with a near Slam of the Year that caromed off the back of the rim. You can check it out in the clip above if you don’t believe me.

Zhejiang head coach, Ding Wei, took a page out of last year’s playbook and only put Josh Boone in the game for 15 minutes, which gave J.R. plenty of time — 44 minutes, to be exact — to put up his epic statistical masterpiece. Ding went with the same sit-Boone-for-the-first-half strategy last year when Marcus Williams was cooking up triple-doubles for breakfast, lunch and dinner to end the season. If J.R. gets hot in the first quarter, expect him to use it again in future games this year. Which of course means, you can probably expect more big games from J.R.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Guangdong – 98 @ Shandong – 93

Guangdong rebounded from the huge upset they suffered at the hands of Qingdao on Friday night by outscoring Shandong 32-13 in the second quarter to win their fourth game of the season. Zhu Fangyu had 27 points to lead the team. Shandong sort of had a chance to win in the fourth quarter, but missed a three that would have cut Guangdong’s lead down to two.

Shandong has now lost three straight after starting the year 3-0.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Jiangsu – 95 @ Shanxi – 112

Charles Gaines had 36-15, Xing Zhijiang scored a season-high 22 and Marcus Williams added 17 points and 8 assists as the Brave Dragons took care of business at home against a shorthanded Dragons squad that was down a foreigner. And that’s too bad, because we missed out on the first Marcus Williams vs. Marcus Williams matchup in CBA history that would have decided who the best Marcus Williams was.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Jilin – 67 @ Shanghai – 85

From the start, Shanghai seemed in control and via the quick hands of Peng Fei and Liu Wei, quickly opened up a lead that the Sharks never lost. Mike Harris came on for Ryan Forehan-Kelly (hereby known as RFK to prevent the constant abuse of my hyphen key) at the start of the second quarter and quickly made a small lead something far more substantial. The Sharks led 42-23 at the break.

To their credit, Jilin kept on fighting until the very end but it was effectively for pride alone. The game seemed decided well before the fourth quarter thanks to the earlier outbreak of blistering shooting, and the Sharks were content to slow the game down amidst the boisterous noise from the home fans.

When the final buzzer came, Shanghai could celebrate another victory, this time to the score of 85-67. Harris finished with 28 points and 22 rebounds, RFK made 16 points with seven rebounds whilst Liu (14), Peng and Zhang Zhaoxu (both 10 points) all scored in double figures.

Andrew Crawford

Box Score

Other Games:

DongGuan – 118 @ Qingdao – 109

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Liaoning – 108 @ Foshan – 111

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Tianjin – 101 @ Fujian – 108

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CBA Round 5 Recap

December 4, 2011

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Guangdong – 94 @ Qingdao – 104

Another round, another shock upset. For the second time this year, four-time defending champion Guangdong was blindsided by a heavy underdog. Lester Hudson, who was a big reason why Guangdong won a title last year, exacted his revenge against the team that opted to replace him this year with Aaron Brooks with a 31 point, 7 assist, 7 rebound, 3 steal performance while holding his counterpart to 18 points.

James Singleton paced Guangdong with 26 points on 10-12 from the field.

Why the slow start for Guangdong? They’re dealing with the sudden departure of Yi Jianlian, who is heading back to the States to secure a job with an NBA team. They’re also adjusting to life with Aaron Brooks, who has been with the team for less than two weeks. Brooks will very likely do well here once he adjusts to the physicality, but a smooth integration into the lineup isn’t certain, at least in my opinion. Guangdong’s crop of National Teamers aren’t used to playing alongside a shoot-first point guard — in years past, they’ve played with guards and wing players who are comfortable with being secondary options on offense. Brooks’ volume shooting is something that both he and the Chinese will have to figure out. Given the team’s history of winning, I’d expect them get on the same page in plenty of time for the playoffs.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Beijing – 111 @ Fujian – 79

The Ducks took care of business on the road against the Sturgeons, winning (for once) in non-dramatic fashion to move to 5-0. Randolph Morris lead all scorers with 23 points and also chipped in 9 rebounds. As the norm has become, Beijing was not shy about taking or making shots from long-range, hitting 13-29 from three. Chen Lei, who didn’t shoot one two-point shot the whole game, hit 7 of 11 from there for 21 points. Stephon Marbury had 18 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists.

Zaid Abbas scored 19 and grabbed 13 boards in his first game against the team he helped lead to the playoffs last year.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Zhejiang – 102 @ Shanxi – 99

After a rocky start to the J.R. Smith era, the Golden Bulls are back to their winning ways of last year after they came away with a victory on the road against Shanxi. It’s the team’s third straight win. Smith had a good all-around game with 32 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists and Josh Boone continued to confuse the heck out of everyone who witnessed his offensive limitations in college, the NBA and last year CBA by going 11-14 from the field en route to 26 points.

Shanxi’s Big Three of Charles Gaines, Marcus Williams and Duan Jiangpeng all hit double-figures, but the rest of the team wasn’t able to step up and provide any amount of consistent scoring.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Guangsha – 75 @ Shanghai – 91

In a big game, live on national television, the Sharks came up with the goods and took care of a somewhat off colour Guangsha outfit in Shanghai, 91-75. The American duo of Ryan Forehan-Kelly and Mike Harris were key to their team’s success, variously making clutch three-pointers, hauling in rebounds and scrambling for loose balls as Shanghai opened up a lead in the second quarter and never looked back. Forehan-Kelly made 30 points whilst Harris picked up a double-double, with 18 points and 16 rebounds.
For Guangsha, Wilson Chandler was an ever present threat, making 25 points before being pulled along with guard Lin Chih-chieh in the fourth quarter as the Lions realised the match was beyond them. The Sharks can look forward to a visit from Jilin Northeast Tigers on Friday and will be lifted by an resolute performance that was even more remarkable considering they had previously lost their last three games.
–Andrew Crawford

Box Score

Jiangsu – 84 @ Xinjiang – 96

Playing for the first time against the team that raised him from youth, Tang Zhengdong scored 17 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as Xinjiang overcame a slow start to eventually pull away from visiting Jiangsu. Despite being short both Yi Li and Mardy Collins, who was left home so he could be replaced by Marcus Williams, the Dragons jumped on the home squad early and went into halftime up seven.

But in the second half, the Flying Tigers regrouped and came out with more energy and focus which resulted in a 35-19 advantage in the third quarter. Kenyon Martin had his best game in China thus far, scoring 19 points and snatching 21 rebounds. Patrick Mills had 20 points and Meng Duo had 19.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Shandong – 87 @ Liaoning – 91

At the top of the standings after Round 3, Shandong dropped their second straight game, this time at the hands of Liaoning. Rodney Carney headed the charge with 23 points and Zhang Qingpeng helped with 19.

Though Shandong shot the ball reasonably well and held their opponents to 4-21 from three, they were undone by their astounding 26 turnovers.

Jon Pastuszek

Box Score

Other Games:

Jilin – 103 @ Foshan – 99

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Tianjin – 79 @ DongGuan – 97

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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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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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CBA Round 2 Recap

November 25, 2011

1 Comment

DongGuan New Century Leopards – 73 @ Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls – 101

J.R. Smith turned in a workmanlike performance as Golden Bulls did away with the Leopards 101-73. Josh Boone put up 24 points including a couple of crowd pleasing dunks, and 13 rebounds, whilst Smith, now returned from his brief elopement to Beijing, scored a modest 16 points plus five assists and six rebounds.

Forward Cao Fei also got in on the act, scoring 21 points and the Bulls can be pleased with a clinical dismantling of a DongGuan side that posed little threat to Zhejiang attempts to get their opening win of the season at the second time of asking.

Box Score

Andrew Crawford

Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers – 80 @ Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons – 102

Kenyon Martin’s debut for Xinjiang was spoiled by a feisty Shanxi squad in what was by far the most shocking result of the young season so far. With Quincy Douby’s replacement, Patty Mills, having only arrived yesterday, the three-time runner-ups were short a second import and it showed almost immediately. Mills will be in the lineup tonight against Bayi, but on Wednesday, without a capable point guard, Xinjiang was unable to get any consistent offensive flow and struggled with their execution, turning the ball over 18 times.

They also didn’t defend. The Brave Dragons shot 56% from the field, including 7-13 from deep. Duan Jiangpeng, who was left off Bob Donewald Jr.’s National Team roster this summer, made a point — 20 of them to be exact — in an offensive display that Donewald will likely not forget anytime soon. Charles Gaines added 25 points and 14 boards, including 11-11 from the free-throw line, and Marcus Williams added 20.

For Xinjiang, Martin finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds in 40 minutes. Meng Duo scored a team high 19.

Box Score

Jon Pastuszek

Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers – 105 @ Jiangsu Nangang Dragons – 90 

Guangdong’s Chinese players came to the fore as the Tigers saw off Jiangsu by fifteen points. Yi Jianlian picked up a tasty double-double with 30 points and 17 rebounds. Zhou Peng (21),Wang Shipeng (19) and James Singleton (13) were equally full of hustle, helping their side overwhelm a Dragons outfit that had six players who scored in the double figures.

Mardy Collins’ 17 points with 6 assists and the same number of rebounds, was the pick of Jiangsu’s players, but Guangdong handled their business on the road and look to make Beijing victim number three of the 2011-2012 season on Friday.

Box Score

Andrew Crawford

Shanghai Dongfang Sharks – 95 @ Shandong Kingston Gold Lions – 98 (OT)

Shanghai’s Mike Harris had the performance of Round 2 with a dominant 39 point 18 rebound stat-line, but Shandong sent Yao Ming and co. to an 0-2 start in overtime. Alan Anderson paced the winners with 32 points, 15 rebounds and 4 assists while Othello Hunter continues to prove that he will be a force to be reckoned with on the offensive glass. He snatched five down — 13 overall — and chipped in with 19 points.

For Shanghai, “Max” Zhang Zhaoxu had a strong performance, 13 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks. Like last season, the Sharks find themselves in an early 0-2 hole to start the year. Shandong goes to 2-0.

**For a much better recap, check out Andrew Crawford’s detailed account over at Shark Fin Hoops.

Box Score

Jon Pastuszek

Other Standout Results

Beijing won their second game in a row thanks to a Zhai Xiaochuan tip-in at the buzzer against a capable Liaoning squad at home at Capital Steel Stadium. That man Stephon Marbury continues to bring the heat in cold, windy Beijing. Starbury got himself 30 points and eleven rebounds before fouling out in his team’s 102-101 victory over Liaoning and probably owes Randolph Morris and Chen Lei a drink after the game for helping the Ducks see the game out with hauls of 24 and 26 respectively. Josh Powell’s 24 points wasn’t enough to help the visitors, who now have a victory and a loss for their two-game troubles. — Box score

Wilson Chandler was only ‘very good’ against Qingdao Eagles, putting up 28 points and 12 rebounds as his Guangsha side lost on the road, 94-88, as Lester Hudson put on another fine showing, this time scoring 37 points and picking up 8 assists and 8 rebounds. — Box Score

Other Round 2 Results

Bayi Fubang Rockets 111-106 Fujian SBS Sturgeons

Box Score

Tianjin Ronggang Golden Lions 117-114 Jilin GBT Northeast Tigers

Box Score

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J.R. Smith plays after MRI comes up negative, but ongoing saga is far from finished

November 22, 2011


 The good news: J.R. Smith’s MRI came up negative on his injured right knee. The bad news: He’s in a lot of trouble with his team. (Photo: via Sina Sports)

Just three days after leaving the court with what appeared to be a serious knee injury, J.R. Smith suited up tonight for the Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls in their home opener against the DongGuan New Century Leopards. Playing with a noticeable limp, Smith scored 16 points on 5-12 shooting, grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists in just over 30 minutes of play.

The Golden Bulls won 101-73. Josh Boone paced the win with 24 points and 13 boards, both of which were game highs.

Smith’s quick recovery from his knee injury came after he underwent an MRI today in Beijing at Beijing Sports Medicine Hospital, the results of which came up negative. Doctors pronounced the injury as a pulled quadriceps muscle and said he would need one to two days to fully recover.

But while Smith’s health appears to be fine, his status with the team is in doubt after a drama-filled 48 hours that has featured an unauthorized trip to Beijing, a Chinese Twitter war with the club’s general manager, an MRI test and finally, a basketball game.

Smith’s ordeal started on Sunday night during the Golden Bulls’ opening round game on the road at Guangdong Hongyuan. Midway through the fourth quarter, Smith fell awkwardly and injured himself while trying to stop and change direction under the opposing team’s basket. In visible pain, Smith was brought to the bench to receive initial treatment. He was taken into the locker room shortly after.

After the game, Smith, who was unable to walk on his own, refused to be taken to a nearby hospital in DongGuan, insisting that he instead be taken back to the team hotel. According to a Sina Sports report, once back in the hotel, the club agreed with Smith that he would have an MRI done in Yiwu, the city where the Golden Bulls are based out of, and scheduled him to fly back with the team the next day accordingly. If results showed that there was a major injury, then Smith would be allowed to fly back to the United States to undergo the next step in the recovery process.

But early yesterday morning, team general manager, Zhao Bing, received a surprising bit of news: Smith was not going back with the team to Yiwu visit with team doctors like he had originally agreed to. Instead, he had already boarded a plane to Beijing.

The change in itinerary went directly in the face of the Zhao, who told him under no circumstances was he allowed to get on a plane out of Yiwu. Smith had made up his mind, however, and once word got back to Zhao that Smith had landed in the capital, he went on Sina Weibo (Chinese Twitter) to publicly warn Smith of the potential consequences for his actions.

“The club has looked into the situation and we have agreed to warn J.R. about his trip to Beijing,” Zhao tweeted. “We hope he can come back to the team as soon as possible, otherwise he will have to face the consequences.”

Soon after seeing Zhao’s comments, Smith responded on his own Sina Weibo, tweeting “My main goal is to get healthy! If you can’t understand that then maybe you should pick another profession!”

Disrespected by Smith’s direct tone, angered by his decision to disobey team orders and incredulous about the doctor’s diagnosis, Zhao went to the press earlier today to issue some stern words.

“We already know the results of J.R. Smith’s medical examination,” Zhao said to reporters earlier today. “He’s coming back this afternoon to Yiwu to meet with the team. Tonight we will call the owner, head coach and high level people from the front office for a face-to-face meeting with Smith to discuss the situation. Afterwards, we will come up with a punishment for his unauthorized departure.”

“We don’t have a problem with him worrying about his health, but he should obey the arrangements the club made for him. We set up an medical exam for him, but he refused the one we provided for him. I have no idea why. It’s not like the team doesn’t have proper medical equipment, you can get an MRI on your knee anywhere. For an injured player, we will certainly make sure the player is properly cared for. But, Smith didn’t obey the club’s arrangements.”

Zhao even went to far as to suggest that Smith was faking his injury in a possible attempt to go home.

“Everyone saw the pain on Smith’s face after he got hurt. Compare that to the results of his exam. We’re all intelligent people, we should all know what’s going on here. When you compare his performance on the court with the game’s final result, you’ll realize. When he was injured, would he have had that big of a reaction [if the score was closer]?”

“Our team’s overall attitude is very clear right now. The team is a collective; we don’t depend on just one person. We’re still going to go out and play basketball, no matter who is absent from the team. No one is indispensable. We play as a team. We will not be affected by one person.”

Amid all the drama, Smith went on Sina Weibo today to profess his desire to stay with Zhejiang. “My goal was nor is not to leave! My goal is to win! An for us to win our team must be heathy!”

Smith stayed overnight in Beijing yesterday before having the MRI this morning, the results of which came up negative.

According to China Daily, the team had become so fed up with Smith’s lack of respect that they considered cutting him. Language on CBA contracts state that if a team can find evidence that a player is purposely faking an injury in order to go home while still receiving his full contract, then it has a right to void the player’s contract.

However, it doesn’t appear that the team will end up taking that route. Though Smith’s future with the club is uncertain at present, but the fact that he came back to help the team to a win tonight may point to him staying in China for now. After the game, Smith told reporters that his mistakes have been put behind him and starting tomorrow, he will come to practice with a renewed energy and seriousness.

Though the entire situation regarding his injury has been his biggest transgression in the eyes of the team since he arrived here back in September, club management has been dealing with disciplinary issues and unreasonable requests since the start.

“At least three or four times, he’s just said he doesn’t feel good and that he’s not coming to practice,” said head coach, Ding Wei. “The whole team is at a loss. One time we realized that he wasn’t at practice because he had gone to Shanghai to go shopping.”

According to Zhao, the club has provided Smith with a high end housing at a cost of roughly USD $1,100, hired a private Western chef and spent over a million dollars for an insurance policy. Since receiving all of that, he has requested another villa in nearby Shanghai or Hangzhou with a private car to take him back and forth from practice in Yiwu.

Like many players who find it difficult to adapt to professional basketball in China, Smith has been adjusting slowly to his new surroundings. But, unlike in years past where players have left for a variety of reasons in order to get out of China and sign somewhere else, the CBA passed a rule this season barring back-to-the-NBA out-clauses that would allow a free passage back to NBA if/when the lockout ends.

Follow Jon Pastuszek on Twitter @NiuBBall or on Sina Weibo @NiuBBall

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2011-2012 CBA Preview

November 20, 2011


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 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 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 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 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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J.R. Smith signs for record amount with Zhejiang Chouzhou

September 14, 2011


Move over Wilson Chandler and Earl Clark. You’re not the only two NBA players in Zhejiang, China, anymore.

An anonymous source with knowledge of the situation has told that Denver Nuggets free-agent guard, J.R. Smith, has signed a contract with the Chinese Basketball Assocation’s Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls. The deal is estimated to be worth around $3 million, making him the highest paid player in league history.

The news was first reported by Sina Sports on Sina Weibo (Chinese twitter) and has since been announced on Zhejiang’s official team website.

Smith joins Wilson Chandler, Earl Clark and Josh Powell on the list of NBA free-agents who have decided to play in China this season as a result of the lockout. Per league rules, Smith’s deal does not include an opt-out clause that would allow him to return to the NBA when the lockout ends.

Smith, like other NBA free agents, has received heavy interest from Chinese teams over the last three weeks. With the CBA having barred all NBA players with active contracts from playing here this season, free agents are the only NBA players who are eligible to sign with Chinese teams.

Before signing with Chouzhou, Smith was originally linked with a big money move to Shanxi Zhongyu. Owned by one of the league’s richest and most ambitious owners, Shanxi was the only team to openly disagree with the league’s rule. Before league officials voted to ban all NBA players with active contracts from signing in China, Shanxi was reportedly on the verge of signing Los Angeles Lakers superstar, Kobe Bryant to a lucrative month-to-month deal.

Unable to sign Bryant or another superstar, Shanxi has been seriously exploring bringing in a high level free agent to soften some of the blow. However, the source told that after having serious negotiations with Smith over the last week, the two sides simply walked away from each other after a final deal could not be a agreed upon.

Though Smith will join Chandler and Clark in province, he will be playing for a completely different team. Zhejiang has two teams, Zhejiang Guangsha and Zhejiang Chouzhou. Last season, the Golden Bulls signed Mike James and Josh Boone with the hope that two NBA-caliber players would catapult them up the standings. However, James never lived up to expectations and was released early in the season. Former 2007 San Antonio Spurs draftee, Marcus Williams, was brought in as a replacement and along with Boone, lead the team to a fifth place regular season finish. The team was then swept by Nanjing Nangang in the first round.

Last season for the Nuggets, Smith averaged 12.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in 79 games.

Follow Jon Pastuszek on Twitter @NiuBBall or on Sina Weibo @NiuBBall

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CBA Playoffs Preview

March 23, 2011

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The CBA playoffs start tonight with all eight teams tipping off tonight at 7:30pm.  The first and second rounds are a best-of-five series, while the finals will be best-of-seven.  For the first round and semi-finals, the format will go 1-2-1-1, with the lower seed hosting game one before going on the road for two games on the road.  All potential Game Fours will be played in the lower seed’s arena, while the deciding Game Five would be played on the higher seed’s floor.

To get you ready for all the action, NiuBBall is previewing every first round series, pointing out key matchups and making predictions.  So let’s get right to it.


#1 Xinjiang (31-1) vs. #8 Beijing (16-16)

Regular Season Series: Xinjiang 2-0
Beijing 72 @ Xinjiang 103, Round 1
Xinjiang 105 @ Beijing 85, Round 18

Beijing fans have waited a long time for a trip to the playoffs – four years to be exact – but, unfortunately for the Ducks, it’s going to be a very short stay in the postseason bracket.  Save for a random Rodney White explosion in Round 20 that put the only blemish on the regular season champs’ record this season, Xinjiang has steamrolled the entire league en route to a 31-1 record. Led by the best foreign duo in the league, Quincy Douby and James Singleton, and supported by CBA MVP Mengke Bateer and Chinese National Team shooting guard, Zhang Qingpeng, Xinjiang will have the advantage over Beijing at every major position.  The Ducks swapped out Joe Crawford for Orien Greene with the hope that Greene could stay in front of Douby, but due to a FIBA suspension Greene received for tampering with urine samples in an attempt to dupe drug testers that hasn’t expired, Greene won’t be allowed to play.  That means Beijing will only be playing with one American import, which will make an already impossible task that much more hopeless.

Key matchup: Beijing’s domestic guards vs. Quincy Douby

With Orien Greene out of the picture for Beijing, the Ducks will have to rely on its Chinese guards to matchup with Douby, the most prolific scorer in the league.  Xie Libin, Lin Xuelin and maybe even Chen Lei will all get their shot, but let’s be real: Not even Greene, who was considered a defensive ace at one point in his career, would have been able to check City Weekend’s unofficial CBA MVP.  If he feels like it, Douby could average 40 for the series.

Prediction: Xinjiang in 3

#2 Guangdong (25-7) vs. #7 Bayi (17-15)

Regular Season Series: Guangdong 2-0
Bayi 89 @ Guangdong 116, Round 10
Guangdong 116 @ Bayi 95, Round 29

Heading into the playoffs, Guangdong is in the unfamiliar position of underdog for the first time in seven years.  Failing to nab the top seed since 2004-05, the Southern Tigers will go up against one of their biggest rivals, the Bayi Rockets, who won the league title in 2006-07 at their expense.  The win is notable, because it put the breaks on a potential Guangdong seven-peat.

Last year, Guangdong swept Bayi in the first round and this year is expected to do the same.  Bayi, still depending on the creaky 34 year-old Wang Zhizhi, will have trouble matching up against Guangdong’s athletic foreign guard-forward combo, Lester Hudson and Marcus Haislip.  Haislip went for 31 in their Round 29 win and will likely enjoy similar outputs against Wang and Mo Ke.  Guangdong also has the luxury of being able to depend on its large reserves of National Team players, with Zhu Fangyu, Wang Shipeng, Su Wei and Zhou Peng all able to carry their teams’ offensively for entire games if the matchups are right.  Bayi will have a lot of pride on the line, but it won’t be any match for Guangdong, who will no doubt come out with something to prove after hearing all season that they’ve taken a backseat to Xinjiang.

Key Matchup: Marcus Haislip vs. Wang Zhizhi and Mo Ke

Because of Guangdong’s great domestic roster, Haislip won’t have the pressure of some of the other imports this post-season, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be expected to just put up mediocre numbers.  Haislip was brought in to try and take some of the load off of the aging and fatigued Guangdong frontline, and so far has done a decent job, averaging 22.6 points and 6.6 rebounds a game.  If Guangdong is going to add another title to their trophy case, however, Hailsip is going to have to up his game a little bit.  He’ll have a good opportunity to put up some good numbers against the older, slower and far less athletic Wang and Mo.  Maybe feasting on three straight double-doubles will give the former University of Tennessee standout some confidence.

Prediction: Guangdong in 3

#3 DongGuan (25-7) vs. #6 Zhejiang Guangsha (18-14)

Regular Season Series: DongGuan 2-0
DongGuan 115 @ Guangsha 112, Round 7
Guangsha 100 @ DongGuan 110, Round 26

Guangsha has turned into a somewhat trendy pick to pull off the upset after DongGuan’s offensive centerpiece, center Jackson Vroman, went back to the States to undergo season ending surgery on a fractured finger a little less than two weeks ago.  Replacing him on short notice will be Courtney Sims, who comes over to China after playing most of the season in the NBA D-League.  Sims, who has had a couple of NBA call-ups over the years in between winning D-League MVP in 2008-09 and D-League All-Star Game MVP last February, while not the passer that Vroman is, can rebound, block shots and score reliably facing the hoop.

Some feel that Guangsha’s massive 7-3 Peter John Ramos could have himself quite a series against the more slender Sims, but we think DongGuan is too well coached to just simply wilt without Vroman.  Head coach Brian Goorjian has had the New Century Leopards practicing together for almost nine months, which has been one of the reasons why the team was able to finish the season above all pre-season expectations.  Their chemistry and cohesiveness is what sets them apart from other teams, and although not having Vroman impacts their stuff on offense, they still have highly capable players in Josh Akognon and Zhang Kai.

Key matchup: Courtney Sims and Zhang Kai vs. Peter John Ramos

Ramos has preyed on opposing post players all year, averaging 24.5 points, 14.2 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game on 63.9% from the field, and could potentially go off against against the 6-10 Sims and Zhang.  DongGuan’s number one priority will be keeping Ramos off the offensive glass.  The Puerto Rican national grabbed 3.6 offensive rebounds per game this year and could very well eclipse that number against the physically weaker DongGuan front line. Ramos’ biggest advantage over opponents on both ends is obviously is 7-3 275 pound frame, but if he’s forced to come out on the perimeter to guard Sims, his effectiveness on the defensive end could be minimized.

Prediction: DongGuan in 4

(4) Jiangsu (20-12) vs. (5) Zhejiang Chouzhou (19-13)

Regular Season Series: Tied 1-1
Jiangsu 101 @ Zhejiang 95, Round 4
Zhejiang 88 @ Jiangsu 86, Round 19

Throw out the two teams’ Round 4 result because at the time, Ricky Davis and Mike James were still running suiting up for Jiangsu and Zhejiang respectively, soon to be on their way out of the league.  Since then, both rosters have changed dramatically.  After both teams got off to rough starts to the year, Zhejiang brought in point-forward Marcus Williams and Jiangsu signed five-year NBA veteran, Antoine Wright.  Both have had successful stints with their teams, turning around poor early season records into middle seeding position for the playoffs.

With little separating these two teams in Round 19, this series looks like it could come down to injuries: Jiangsu is limping into tonight’s away game with their starting point guard, Hu Xuefeng out with a knee injury and big man, Tang Zhengdong, dragging a gimpy knee that has plagued him all year.  Factor in Zhejiang’s Williams, who other than Douby has arguably been the best import in China this year, and the blue collar Josh Boone, who is totally fine with just rebounding and setting good screens, and the Golden Bulls look like a great upset pick.

Key Matchup: Antoine Wright vs. Marcus Williams

How good as Williams been since arriving in Zhejiang midseason?  The Golden Bulls have gone 17-6 in his 23 games with the team, including 11 of their final 12.  So good has Williams been in fact, that Zhejiang sits Boone for the entire first half in order to allow their star import four quarters of uninterrupted basketball.  In 41.5 minutes per game, Williams put up 29.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 2.4 steals, crazy numbers that are only made even crazier by the fact that he finished the year with four straight triple-doubles.  At 6-7, Williams’ ball-handling combined with his length makes him a tough check for most players, but Wright, who is 6-7 himself, has spent the last five years in the NBA and won’t be intimidated in the least.  The individual matchup is arguably the first-round’s best, and could go a long way in deciding the outcome of this very close series.

Prediction: Chouzhou in 4

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Stephon Marbury and Shanxi Zhongyu split ways

November 27, 2010


After being shunned by pretty much everybody in the United States, his hometown, his hometown team, the NBA and even a family member, Marbury had finally found somewhere where he belonged.

China was always going to be an unlikely destination for a two-time All-Star; the dusty, dirty city of Taiyuan even more so. But, it was working. Flourishing, even.

Signing on in the middle of the season for the last place Brave Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association last year, Marbury transformed from an unwanted NBA vagabond into China’s biggest basketball star as soon as he stepped off the plane.  His 15 games for the last place Brave Dragons generated arguably the most domestic and international interest in Chinese basketball since Yao Ming was playing in Shanghai as the world’s most sought after big-man prospect almost a decade ago.  CBA nightly highlight packages led off with Marbury and the Brave Dragons, with his stats and best plays receiving the most airtime out of any other player — Chinese or foreign — in the league.  The effect on the city of Taiyuan and the province of Shanxi was felt too.  Seen previously as a dreary dead-end for wandering professional basketball players, the area became an unlikely spot on the worldwide basketball map, yet another Chinese city to be on the receiving end of unlikely sources of globalization.

Embraced by not only a city, but a country chock full of basketball-crazed fans, Ma Bu Li, which is his name in Chinese, or Du Lang, “The Lone Wolf,” as he is called by the media, had found a pack to run with.

“Being in a place where they show nothing but love to you,” said Marbury in an interview to Bruce Beck in August, “its the best thing in the world.”

And on his Twitter feed, he even hinted he may finish his career in the CBA: “I may be there until I hang the shoes up. Retiring in CHINA that might be kinda dope.”

Keen to build off of their new found momentum, the two sides announced that they had signed a three-year contract in the summer, complete with business cooperations to let Marbury sell his low-cost Starbury brand shoes, and a clause that would allow him to become an assistant coach after his playing days were over.  Forget being just a basketball player, Marbury was a pioneer, an American running not only the point, but his own business venture in the fastest growing economy in the world.

Guys took notice.  Rafer Alston tried (in vain) to negotiate a deal similar to what Steph had worked out.  Steve Francis, who just signed with Beijing, was hung up for several weeks about “business provision”clauses. James Singleton, Ricky Davis, Mike James, Quincy Douby, Randolph Morris and Josh Boone, no doubt based on Marbury’s short-term success in the PRC, have all made the jump from the NBA to the CBA this year.

In half a year, Marbury had changed himself, the city of Taiyuan, the way basketball players approach China as a whole, the CBA and at least in some part the caliber of foreign players teams are able to attract. Last Feburary, Chinese basketball merely wanted the Lone Wolf.  This season, as the league steps through uncharted territory, it needed him.

And that’s why the news that Shanxi has suddenly decided not to bring Marbury back this for this season is particularly shocking to anyone who’s really followed this story throughout.

According to NetEase, Shanxi management notified Marbury that the team will not be signing the 13-year NBA veteran to a contract this season after he arrived in Taiyuan to link up with the team for training camp on November 24th. The team announced that they have signed Jamal Sampson instead.

Specific reasons as to why the team abruptly changed its plans have not been reported, but whatever events have transpired in the last few weeks were serious enough for Shanxi to tear up whatever the two sides had agreed upon this past summer.  A source speaking anonymously to said there were unresolvable issues surrounding final salary and business cooperation arrangements.  According to the Wall Street Journal, Starbury Corp. was all set to manufacture, sell and market his affordable brand of sneakers to the Chinese market, with a goal to open three stores in Taiyuan by later this year.

Early reports that Marbury had offered to take a pay cut in order to stay with the team have been refuted by associate editor of Titan Sports and close friend of Marbury, Yang Yi, who spoke with Sina Sports yesterday.

“This whole thing is completely shocking to Marbury because this summer, Shanxi said they were signing him to a contract,” Yang said.  “Plus, he had already arrived in Taiyuan. But, the day before yesterday, the general manager Zhang Aijun and the team’s owner all of the sudden notified him that they weren’t going to sign him.  To an athlete, thats just irresponsible.”

The timing of Shanxi’s decision is most problematic. With the new season quickly approaching, every team has signed their limit of two non-Asian imports, so Marbury is essentially stuck without a team.

“If they said they weren’t going to sign him a month ago, then Marbury still would have had a lot of other opportunities because there are still some teams who are quite interested in him. But now, every CBA team has already signed their import players, so it’s going to be real tough for Marbury to find a team to play with.”

“He’s dissapointed in Shanxi. This is treachery.  Marbury isn’t strapped for cash, he doesn’t need to play in China because he needs money.  He just feels really sad because he loves Shanxi. This summer he was working out and keeping his body in shape. He feels really hurt by the team.”

Shanxi Zhongyu’s sponsor, Shanxi Fenjiu, a company that produces rice alcohol, had invested about $1.2 million in the team this year in anticipation of Marbury’s return for a full season of basketball. However, now that word has gotten out that the team has ended its relationship with their import point-guard, Shanxi Fenjiu, other investors, and the league office itself are all highly dissatisfied with the the Brave Dragons’ decision.

“Investors and the the league are all giving the club a lot of pressure. But, Shanxi has already signed its maximum allotment of three foreign players: [Jamal] Sampson and [Leon] Rodgers [and Osama Dahglas]… Rodgers was with Zhang Aijun when he was in Jilin. Obviously, Zhang still wants to use is own guys now that he’s with Shanxi.”

Yang also shared that Shanxi gave Marbury two choices: Take a large pay cut, or stay on the team this year as an assistant coach. He declined both and will be headed back to the States after he spends the next few days in Beijing, according to the report.

According to sources with NetEase, Marbury is devastated over the news as he had developed a real connection to the Shanxi area and its fans and after negotiations broke down, he holed himself up for three straight days in his hotel in Taiyuan. On the 26th, fans came to the hotel to as a sign of support, which caused Marbury to come out and address the crowd.

“I don’t blame Shanxi, it’s just that they told me about all of this too late, so I probably can’t play in the CBA this year.”

A sad ending for maybe the only American ballplayer in China who actually wanted to be in China. Maybe I was wrong about the CBA needing Marbury. But, there’s no doubt that maybe Marbury needs China, just as anyone needs to receive a little bit of love in their life.

As someone who knows first hand about the mutual happiness that Marbury and China brought to each other, this is a depressing start to a season that looked to be so exciting.

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Josh Boone to Zhejiang; Mike Harris and Fred Jones in talks

October 14, 2010


A little late with this, as yesterday was dominated by Rockets – Nets and the “Throwdown in Henan,” but three more ex-NBA players, Josh Boone, Mike Harris and Fred Jones are all at varying stages in the CBA contract process.

Titan 24 is reporting that the CBA’s Zhejiang Golden Bulls (which is an entirely different team than the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions, Zhejiang province has two teams) has agreed in principle to a deal with former New Jersey Nets’ center, Josh Boone.  Boone is quoted (translated into Chinese) as saying “The Nets have went to China to travel, but I’ve chosen to go to China to continue my professional career.”  He’s currently in the States, but will be moving to Zhejiang soon to finalize the deal.

The Hoops Market is on it, too.

Possibly joining Boone in Zhejiang is Mike Harris, who is currently with the Houston Rockets on their China Games tour, according to TOM Sports.  If Harris, who didn’t get on the court against the Nets in Beijing, is cut by Houston before the start of the season, then last year’s D-League MVP will sign a deal with the club.  A person with Zhejiang was quoted as saying that the club needed a versatile forward who could pair up with Chinese national team member, Ding Jinhui. (H/T Hoopschina) The Hoops Market also has something up on it.

Two days ago, Hoopchina reported that three-time defending champs, the Guangdong Southern Tigers, are interested in obtaining Fred Jones.  The seven-year NBA vet out of Oregon is being targeted as a replacement on the perimeter for Smush Parker, who left the team this summer to play in Russia.  …Hoops Market

And lastly, Asia Basket has the scoop on the Jilin Northeast Tigers’ efforts to land CBA old-hands Andre Emmett and Leon Rodgers.  Rodgers played 22 games for Jilin last year, averaging 8.5 points and 8.5 boards.  Emmett finished last year as the league’s top scorer, averaging an even 32 points per game, a clip that was boosted heavily by his record-setting 71 point nuclear detonation against Jiangsu.

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