Just when you thought you had seen it all, we have another Chinese guy making an NBA appearance, although only for some Summer League action. While last year He Tianju, while largely unproven by any NBA standard, was surely a top tier player by CBA standards, this year’s new additions are far more of a mystery, sometimes even by CBA standards.
Let’s find out who these two guys are then, shall we?
1 – Ge Zhaobao, the late bloomer.
I’m sure you can look up my personal blog and find some article in which I stated I wasn’t thrilled with Ge Zhaobao. He’s the prototypical Chinese tall guy with little interest for playing tall. Which, unless you have God-given guard skills, can turn ugly in a hurry.
However Chinese players always require a lot of patience. The system over there is strict, the translation to the pro ranks traumatic (although for some it proves liberating), the length you used to live by suddenly ineffective and insufficient.
Ge has had ups and downs despite managing to average double digits in three of his five pro seasons, but he’s now found a bit of a niche playing as a 4/5 alongside 6’11” Yang Pengfei.
Standing at 7 ft tall, the Shanxi big man is probably going to play the 4 spot for the D-League Select during this Summer League – he’s listed as a forward, as a matter of fact – and has very good shooting mechanics. He hasn’t extended his range out to the 3-point line in China, but might shoot a couple of treys in this setting. He’s more agile than athletic at this stage of the game (he’s 24) and a lot of his chances will depend on his ability to stay in front of people on the perimeter, something he hasn’t been asked to do all that much in China. It makes sense for him to try his luck stateside as his potential role as a 4/5 stretch player is very coveted in the NBA and his length should give him an edge over some opponents.
We’ve talked about how some CBA players have untapped NBA potential due to the different role they’d be asked to fill, and Ge Zhaobao seems to believe he’s one of them.
As he’s playing for the D-League Select it’s legitimate to question whether he’s just feeling out the American system or he actually plans on moving regardless of whether he gets an NBA contract or not. Will he be okay with some D-League action?
2 – Wu Guanxi, the hidden gem.
Wu has barely played pro basketball at all at 22 years of age. A physical specimen that is probably more of a project than a real ball player at this stage, Wu (left) has been awarded very few minutes in Shanghai, but when on the court with a bit more consistency he has often surprised. Two terrific double-doubles in the last 6 games of the season are probably some of the promise the Houston Rockets have seen in the 6’10″/270 big man. It’s kind of hard to really envision a role for him in the NBA: he’s played so sparingly even the die-hard CBA fans might have had to look him up on Google, and his stats suggest his free throw shooting could use some improvement.
We do know he has a good fanbase, which never hurts, and that his physical frame combined with the athletic potential (which, as far as we know, may or may not be already untapped) certainly helps his case. Everything else, he’ll need to prove to all of us with the Rockets in this SL, provided he gets enough – or even some – playing time.
Playing for the Shanghai Sharks puts him, however, in a better position than most Chinese prospects as his team, owned by Yao Ming, is probably the most westernized and NBA friendly CBA franchise you’ll find.