A[renas] to Z[hang Zhaoxu]: Shanghai Sharks 2012/13 Player Grades

The Chinese Basketball Association schedule is done and dusted for another season as far as the Shanghai Sharks are concerned. Nine months of quiet now beckon but not before grades are dished out on a disappointing but eventful 10-22 campaign.

Starting Five:

PG/SG: Gilbert Arenas: 6/10

Games: 14, MPG:27.3, PPG: 20.7, RPG: 7.3, APG:3.0

It could have been a ten because when a fully fit Arenas has played, its been wonderful and exactly what you want from a gun slinging combo guard. Had he been fit, he could have been a 30 points-a-night guy in the CBA but instead he inadvertently derailed a season and cost his head coach a job. Expect Arenas to be back next season but probably not with Shanghai.

PG/SG: Liu Wei: 7.5/10

Games: 21, MPG:32.8, PPG: 21.3, RPG: 4.5, APG:4.5

Father Time spares no-one. After a MVP-caliber start to the season, things started to break down and Liu Wei’s injuries limited him for much of the second half of the year. The skills are still there but they are fading. At thirty-three, he maybe has two or three more years but who knows. When he’s healthy, he’s brilliant and is the living embodiment of the team as well as an inspirational captain. However, this season has proved the team needs to start looking ahead to the future.

SG/SF: Liu Ziqui: 7/10

Games: 30, MPG:26.9, PPG: 10.3, RPG: 4.3, APG:2.0

Probably one of the most unheralded players on the team, Liu Ziqui displayed a real capacity for being sneaky good at critical moments. At times, he was Shanghai’s best player on the court and his energy and fearlessness belied his lanky frame. The look of surprise on the face of  Wang Zhongguang when Liu squared up to the Bayi guard back in early February spoke volumes. However, he is also a turnover machine and his capacity to throw dumb passes sometimes holds him back.

PF: DJ White: 9/10

Games: 32, MPG:33.0, PPG: 21.6, RPG: 9.7, APG:1.3

Given the circumstances that White found himself in, the former Charlotte Hornet was constantly superb for the Sharks. Having played every single game this regular season, White at times carried the time when injuries and nerves were affecting other team mates. The stats might not be eye-catching but he could be a very useful guy for an NBA team needing a gritty fifteen minute shift.

C: Zhang Zhaoxu: 6.5/10

Games: 31, MPG:25.2, PPG: 8.5, RPG: 8.0, APG:0.5

A very, very slow start to the season in which either injuries, fatigue or an inability to get into games was almost erased by a fine run of form in the closing stretch. Brilliant in games against Bayi, Fujian and Liaoning- all of whom boasted solid big men- Zhang also drifted off at times and looked hesitant when his team needed him in other tough battles. At twenty-five, there is still time for him to mature into the player Shanghai needs him to be but with Liu Wei running out of time, Zhang has to be ready to take more responsibility right now. Physical and mental changes need to happen in his game sooner rather than later.

First Guys Off The Bench

PF/C: Tseng Wen-ting (6/10)

Games: 31, MPG:18.3, PPG: 5.4, RPG: 3.4, APG:0.7

A very odd season that saw him play huge minutes for Daniel Panaggio but finished with a DNP-Coach’s Decision in the final game of the season against Liaoning. The Taiwanese big man started strongly and was probably the player of the game when the Sharks beat Qingdao back in November. Offensively, the ‘Tseng Wen-ting checkdown’ is still an occasional problem when he tries to line-up a shot from midrange or beyond but he remains a strong defensive option. His marginalizing under Wang Qun was disappointing considering that the forward had previously made the All-Star ballot and this issue could be something to watch during the offseason.

SF: Cai Liang (6/10)

Games: 31, MPG:21.8, PPG: 5.5, RPG: 3.4, APG:0.9

At times, ‘Spider’ was great to watch. Agile, generally reliable from range and fond of a flashy dunk- Cai certainly has the ability to command a crowd’s attention. However, he also has the ability to inspire their ire given his propensity to make silly mistakes. That said, he looks to be a solid player going forward given that he is only twenty-one and is adjusting to being in Shanghai after two seasons with the Qingdao Eagles. The talent is there but he still needs time to develop his game and put on some weight. He also needs to get a decent haircut.

PG: Ge Yong (6.5/10)

Games: 29, MPG:19.3, PPG: 5.7, RPG: 1.7, APG:1.1

Thrust into action due to the various injuries in the Sharks backcourt, the young point guard has done relatively well. He is still getting used to controlling the floor but he is a reliable shooter and recognizes danger when its coming. Obviously Ge is still a work in progress but looks to be a solid prospect that with time and guidance could be a decent guard.

PF/C: Wang Ligang: 6/10

Games: 27, MPG:12.3, PPG: 4.1, RPG: 1.7, APG:0.4

Good for a couple of buckets a game and can generally be relied on to hold the fort on defence for five minutes whilst the starters catch their breath. Nothing amazing but nothing terrible. In short, your prototypical bench player.

SG: Meng Lingyuan: 4/10

Games: 30, MPG:17.1, PPG: 4.9, RPG: 1.7, APG:1.0

Last season, Meng was an energizing presence coming off the bench and his kamakazi style of play often galvanized his team. This year hasn’t been as successful and his minutes and points are down accordingly as turnovers and concentration issues plagued his game. There is also a little bit too much swagger for a guy who frankly hasn’t done anything in 2012/13. Don’t be be pointing to the crowd and smashing your chest when you sink an uncontested jumper from eight feet out- that stuff needs to be saved for the big shots, young fella- of which you haven’t got a sniff of this season.

Garbage Time Guys

C: Wu Yang: 5/10

Games: 22, MPG:5.5, PPG: 2.0, RPG: 1.3, APG:0.3

Rarely played. When he did, nothing interesting happened.

SG/SF: Zhai Yi: 5.5/10

Games: 19, MPG:9.5, PPG: 2.2, RPG: 1.1, APG:0.4

See above. His MPG are messed up because he was one of the first guys off the bench in garbage time. Unlike Wu, Zhai is barely out of high school so there is plenty of time to earn more real minutes. Won the 2013 CBA Dunk Contest which indicates some decent springs.

PG: Zhuang Yuan: 5.5/10

Games: 11, MPG:11.2, PPG: 2.3, RPG: 0.7, APG:1.5

On one memorable occasion this season, the eighteen year old rookie had to be told by DJ White to stop dribblingly aimlessly and ‘give [White] the motherfucking ball’. The frank imperative by White highlighted Yi’s inexperience at the professional level. He is extremely raw and may well find himself being parcelled off to another team for a season-long loan next year. He looked terrified when he had to come into the Bayi game away in Ningbo after Arenas and Ge Yong went down but just about held his nerve and looked delirious at the final buzzer. That plus his obvious delight at getting to suit up along with Liu Wei and Gilbert Arenas means I can’t be cold enough to give him less than 5.5.

SG: Sze Wong: 5/10

Games: 7, MPG:8.0, PPG: 2.4, RPG: 0.7, APG:0.3

Seemingly a guy that had hung around the league for ages without getting any playing time, Sze (reportedly nicknamed ‘old man’ by the other Sharks players) appeared largely in blowouts. That said, he made it to double-figures in a game this season and for that alone, he gives hope to limited, undersized players everywhere (especially if they probably have an uncle who knows someone in a professional basketball team).

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