The picture shown above was the lead image of Sina Sport’s CBA coverage for most of Sunday and early Monday morning. In it, Stephon Marbury is glaring angrily at his Beijing teammate and former LA Laker, Sun Yue. Meanwhile, with both men trapped in their own private imbroglio, Shandong’s Ding Yanyuhan hangs from the rim amid the sound of a home arena rising to its feet. Few images speak this loud; few moments better incapsulate how much trouble the reigning CBA champions are in.
In a change to last season’s preview (in part because nether myself, Marco nor Patrick can decide who is going to finish where in the 2015/16 standings), this season at Shark Fin Hoops, we’re going to breakdown all twenty teams in the league, profiling who we think is going to do what. This season is arguable the most unpredictable in years, with several legitimate title contenders and a number of sides that could surprise anyone on their day. So, in the first of four parts, here is the breakdown of the Bayi Rockets, Beijing Ducks, Chongqing Dragons, Dongguan/Shenzhen Leopards and Fujian Sturgeons.
On the flip side of the fourth quarter rule that now allows only one import on the court at any time, many things have changed in the CBA. Now there are ‘import no. 1’ and ‘import no. 2’ statuses, a seldom-before-seen hierarchy for foreigners and a distinctly fresh flavor to the Chinese free agency market. It seems teams have also gotten wise to the need to balance out their rosters. One only has to look at thrice-time champions Beijing– whose wisely built roster allows homegrown players like Li Gen and Sun Yue to thrive without not taking numbers away from Randolph Morris and Stephon Marbury– to realize how successful this special blend actually is. Continue reading “Keeping Up With The Zhou’s: CBA Teams Looking To Get Local Assets.”
In an increasingly guard driven league, it is important to remember that an overseas power forward or center is absolutely critical to a CBA team. A good big man tends to solve many problems overnight and a middling franchise can often upgrade its front court with just one phone call to the right player.
Liaoning Leopards vs. Beijing Ducks
Is Liaoning, the team that always flatters to deceive, about to finally fulfill its destiny and win a CBA title? This will be the fifth time the Leopards have made the championship series but not since the mid 1990’s (when the team made three consecutive Finals) have Liaoning looked this good. They have a proven scorer and ball handler in Lester Hudson, a very useful big man that gets it down down low and shooters that space the floor and knock down their shots at a high clip. Continue reading “Shark Fin Hoops CBA Play-Off Preview: Finals”
Guangdong Tigers (1) vs Beijing Ducks (3)
Shit, as they say, is about to get very real. It only took three games for Beijing to walk straight through Jilin (and its also worth stressing that the starters were rested for the second half of the final game) whilst Guangdong needed four attempts to put a plucky but outmatched Dongguan to the sword. Ultimately though, things went as expected and the holders of the last combined eight CBA titles will now face off for the third time in the last four years. Continue reading “Shark Fin Hoops CBA Play-Off Preview: Semi Finals”
Its play-off time in the Chinese Basketball Association, which, to the league’s credit, has become more and more exciting with every season. This year, it’s an interesting mix between old hands like Guangdong, Beijing and Xinjiang and new faces like Qingdao and Jilin. The structure is fairly simple; 1st vs. 8th, 2nd vs 7th and so on, until the two remaining teams from both sides of the eight seed bracket face off in a best of seven Finals. Games start on Febuary 6th but it makes sense to first break down who is in the postseason and how they might fare.
#1 Seed: Guangdong Tigers (34-4)
For the fourth season in a row, the Tigers have finished the regular season atop of the standings. But this time around, they finished with their best ever record in the modern CBA era and won twenty-six games in a row. After initially deciding that they wanted to get younger with Emmanuel Mudiay, now it looks like Guangdong have decided to rely on veterans. Mudiay has been watching things from the sidelines since December and in his place Will Bynum (21.4ppg, 7.4apg) handles the ball whilst Yi Jianlian (27.4ppg), Zhu Fangyu (18.9ppg including 47% from downtown) and Wang Shipeng (45% from downtown) space the floor and wait for the defense to panic. Yet the big question is still the same; can the Tigers win the title again after a period of relative inconsistency (one title in three seasons having previous won seven out of eight CBA Finals between 2004-2011)? On paper, you would say ‘of course, idiot’ but this is an older team that found themselves bested in last year’s semi-finals by a Beijing side with both street smarts AND youth on their side. A year on from that painful loss, the Tigers would once again face Beijing for the third CBA postseason in four years should both teams make it to the semi-finals and the Ducks are leading the ongoing series 2-0. If and when that scenario happens, it may well be this Guangdong roster’s Waterloo moment. Continue reading “Shark Fin Hoops Indepth CBA Play-Off Preview: Quarter Finals”