Yi Jianlian, Du Feng And The Fight For The Soul Of The Guangdong Tigers

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If you haven’t already guessed, Chinese basketball is a highly complicated, incredibly political landscape. Yet somehow, the events of the past few days in Guangdong have been especially unprecedented and will be a storyline to follow for the whole of the current CBA season.

Now, we should probably pause  to recap some stuff. Regular readers of Shark Fin Hoops will know that the Guangdong Tigers are a fading but extremely important dynasty. The Tigers’ rivalry with the Bayi Rockets defined the early years of the Chinese Basketball Association and Guangdong went on to win eight titles in thirteen years. The cornerstones of this success were the local players and although Yao Ming was the face of the national team, players like Du Feng, Yi Jianlian, Zhu Fangyu and Wang Shipeng all played on multiple Olympic teams during that time. A hugely successful core, Yi went to the NBA in 2007, Zhu almost went in 2004 and Du and Wang may well have got their shot had they played for another team in China that did not require such strict adherence to team-first basketball. Continue reading “Yi Jianlian, Du Feng And The Fight For The Soul Of The Guangdong Tigers”

Belatedly, China Is Back In The NBA– But What Happens Now?

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Not since 2007 have Chinese players heard their names called in the NBA draft. History tends to forget that two mainlanders were drafted that year (Yi Jianlian to the Bucks and Sun Yue was also selected by the Lakers in the middle of the second round). Either way, by 2011, both players were out of the NBA and since then, there has been an awkward absence of Chinese players in the world’s biggest league. That was, until last Thursday, when Wang Zhelin and Zhou Qi both were selected.

Continue reading “Belatedly, China Is Back In The NBA– But What Happens Now?”

Local Players To Watch This Season (Part 1)

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With talk about both Zhou Qi and Wang Zhelin running for the NBA draft in the near future, young Chinese players haven’t been talked about this much since Yi Jianlian was a young prospect almost a decade ago. Now, in the first of two parts, Marco Catanzaro breaks down some of the other young players that need to be studied closely. Continue reading “Local Players To Watch This Season (Part 1)”

Breaking Down The 2015/16 CBA Season: Part Two

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In the second of a four-part CBA preview, we break down two teams that are making bold free agency decisions (the Jilin Tigers and Jiangsu Dragons), one all-time great team that needs to improve in the postseason (Guangdong Tigers), another play-off team that will probably keep punching above its weight (Guangsha Lions) and a Foshan Long Lions roster that simply needs to prove something to itself. Part one can be read here. Continue reading “Breaking Down The 2015/16 CBA Season: Part Two”

Breaking Down The Impact of Jeremy Pargo to Guangsha

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Guangsha has been a stable playoff team in the past years, not missing the top eight since 2007. Unfortunately, with only one series won and a plethora of 0-3 losses, the squad hailing from Hangzhou seems stuck in no man’s land. Enter Jeremy Pargo, the youngest of the Pargo brothers (Jannero is currently playing for the Charlotte Hornets whilst Jeremy himself has had a few NBA stints) and a Euroleague pure scorer. Will he be the one to carry the Lions out of (high-level) mediocrity?

Continue reading “Breaking Down The Impact of Jeremy Pargo to Guangsha”

How Yi Jianlian’s Free Agency Could Change The CBA Landscape Overnight

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With speculation mounting about his free agency status, Yi Jianlian was forced to release a statement last Monday. In it, the captain of the Chinese national team confirmed that he had not re-signed with the Guangdong Tigers despite his looming free agency but that talks were set to begin soon.

But the announcement, designed to put Tigers fans at ease, underlines a growing concern that Yi might not actually agree to a deal. The ramifications were this to happen would be huge and if Yi did indeed go elsewhere, it essentially spells the end for one of Chinese basketball’s most successful rosters. Continue reading “How Yi Jianlian’s Free Agency Could Change The CBA Landscape Overnight”

Shark Fin Hoops Indepth CBA Play-Off Preview: Quarter Finals

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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.

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#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”