In the second of two parts, Marco Cantanzaro breaks down more key young Chinese players to watch out for. Some play for good teams; some play for bad ones– but all of them could be critical to the future of Chinese basketball. Part one can be found here.
Probably the most unforeseen of all explosions has taken place in Shanghai, where 26-year-old Liu Xiaoyu, perennial bench player in Guangdong, is kicking ass and taking names in Shanghai after an unheralded transfer. Shanghai isn’t in a bad place in playoff perspective, either, and if Yao Ming’s team gets a playoff spot thanks to Liu and AJ Price’s efforts we will have our first official grit ‘n’ grind team in CBA history. Slow, steady and rugged is a formula that won’t necessarily gain you too many fans in China, but if it works.
6) Fu Hao – Bayi (11.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
Already worthy of a Draft Express mention, the young big man is seeing some valuable playing time for the aforementioned Bayi Army team that is just letting the young guys play at this stage in its history and is averaging double figures in his first month as a pro. Not too bad, although there are apparent flaws in his game that need to be worked on. His free throw shooting is below 60%, a feat that I personally thought to be nearly impossible for a Chinese player given how many practices they attend since their Athletics School days (as far as I heard, not much chill going on in there). His FG% could also stand to gain some improvement. But hey, he’s a teenager so time is definitely on his side and the rest of his repertoire looks promising.
7) Zhaoyan Hao – Guangsha (11.3 ppg, 47% 3pt, 1,8 spg)
Already regarded as an important part of a Chinese National Team that has often looked weaker on both guards spot in recent years, Zhao Yanhao is a pure shooter, a good defender (especially off the ball) and a pure 2-guard with proper size at 6’5″. He’s quickly climbed up Guangsha’s ranks, which will prove to be extremely valuable as the team from Hangzhou is a surefire playoff contender (and that might still be an understatement) with talent in bunches and a variety of locals ready to pick up the slack in crunch time. Barely 18 years old, Zhao’s prototypical size and defensive activity make him an enticing prospect both by CBA and NBA standards as long as his defensive fundamentals keep getting refined and his court vision improves.
The jury is still out on other rookies, too, so stay tuned.