Sunday, March 07, 2010
Chinese Basketball Association Statistics, 2010
The Chinese Basketball Association and its compelling protagonists have a particular level of focus on this website, for the simple reason that they're totally awesome. Any league that saw Olumide Oyedeji average nearly 20/20 can peak the interest of any of us.
Fringe NBA players like playing in China; the exposure isn't huge and the standard isn't great, but the CBA pays very well, and it is unashamed in copying the NBA model of basketball not much imitated around the globe. They've changed their style to match up to the NBA game; games are 48 minutes long (like the NBA, and unlike basically every other league in the world), and there's about three of them a week (unlike most other domestic leagues, which have 1). This teams playing lots of games with less emphasis on practice is a lure to players; after all, as that great philosopher of our time Nate Dogg once said, "playas play on, play on, keep playing on." Words to live by.
Furthermore, aside from the imports, the standard of play is kind of bad, which leads to amusingly lopsided statistics that they could put on their CV; for example, Tim Pickett will now always be able to boast that he was a 39.4ppg scorer at one point in his career, something which paid dividends when he received a workout with the Memphis Grizzlies back in May. It's nice to know they're checking out China. So do I.
Each CBA team is allowed to play two import players at any one time. "Import players" are defined as anyone that isn't Chinese, or otherwise Asian. In practice, however, these players are almost always American. Better still, these players are also almost always players that you've heard of. And that makes it even more fun.
There follows a selection of Chinese Basketball Association statistics. Said selection includes all import players statistics, the stats of the Chinese players you may have heard of, and some of the Chinese players that none of us have heard of who are doing OK. Teams listed in order of their current standings, i.e. from first to worst.
1st: Guangdong Southern Tigers
- David Harrison: 25.0 mpg, 17.0 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 0.5 apg, 4.2 fpg, 0.4 spg, 1.0 bpg, 70% FG, 0% 3PT, 52% FT
- Smush Parker: 32.0 mpg, 17.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.4 apg, 2.9 fpg, 2.8 spg, 0.4 bpg, 43% FG, 34% 3PT, 76% FT
Harrison is averaging a number of minutes that is tiny in comparison to those of everyone else, mainly because he can't stay out of foul trouble. Foul problems were the downfall of his NBA career, as was his lack of development over a four year period and a love of pot; despite the feel-good tone of this piece about his rebuilding of his career, Harrison is not having a particularly good season this year, with numbers down across the board.
NBA journeyman Parker has flirted with a triple double on several occasions this year, including a 21p/12a/9r outing on February 7th and an 18p/9/a/12r outing on January 22nd, but hasn't made one yet. He is third in the league in steals per game, but strangely WAY behind the first two (more on this later), and he's shot more three pointers and twos. Which, considering the 34% success rate, has not really worked out for him.
Nevertheless, despite these two relatively underwhelming import players, Guangdong top the league with a 26-2 record. They're doing this because they have far more support from the domestic players than most other teams, with four double digit Chinese scorers on their books; Du Feng (11.2ppg, 4.3 rpg), Zhou Peng (12.5ppg, 3.5rpg), Zhu Fangyu (16.1ppg, 3.9rpg) and Wang Shipeng (16.2ppg, 4.2rpg). Zhou Peng is only 20 years old and one for the future; the other three are established Chinese national team members. As CBA teams go, Guangdong are pretty stacked, which counterbalances - and partly explains - the slightly subpar performances of the two imports. (And as you'll see when we get further down this list, yes, the statlines for those two are rather underwhelming. It's all relative, of course, for those are still big numbers.)
2nd: Xinjiang Flying Tigers
- Charles Gaines: 39.0mpg, 30.7ppg, 11.0rpg, 1.5apg, 2.9fpg, 2.1 spg, 1.0bpg, 64% FG, 25% 3PT (1-4) 73% FT
- Myron Allen: 29.8mpg, 15.6ppg, 3.9rpg, 4.7apg, 2.5fpg, 2.4spg, 0.2bpg, 48% FG, 35% 3PT, 76% FT
- Mengke Bateer: 39.3mpg, 14.1ppg, 9.6rpg, 3.9apg, 2.9fpg. 1.1spg, 1.2 bpg, 48% FG, 37% 3PT, 81% FT
- Xue Yuyang: 16.8mpg, 7.2ppg, 1.4rpg, 0.4apg, 1.8fpg, 0.3spg, 0.1bpg, 45% FG, 43% 3PT FG, 67% FT
Xinjiang are second in the league with a 24-4 record, and knocked off the first place Guangdong only yesterday. They're doing this largely because of Gaines, whose 30.7ppg average ranks second in the league. (His rebounds per game, which would lead any other significant non-NBA league in the world, rank only tenth in China. God bless this league.) Gaines has only scored less than 20 twice in 28 games, has three 40+ point outings (including 41 in the win over Guangdong) and has 19 double doubles. And while I'm no mathematician, I do believe that's a true shooting percentage of .664%. Handy.
Allen is playing his second season in China after an underwhelming CV before then. He is a 30 year old 5'11 scoring guard who played only 8 games of Division 1 basketball with North Dakota, a fairly small school that play in the Great West Conference, a conference which contains schools from literally all over despite the name. He was suspended due to a dispute about his eligibility; before attending North Dakota in 2003, Allen had played at community college and junior college, and appeared in an IBA game, thereby invalidating his eligibility. Between 2003 and 2008 Allen played in the USBL, ABA, WBA, Mexico and Israel, and averaged 10.6 ppg in the 2005-06 D-League season for the Arkansas Rimrockers. There's not a huge amount of pedigree there, but then last year out of nowhere, he averaged 22/6/7 for Xinjiang. Strange times. Allen is shooting 59% from two point range and only 34% from three point range, yet takes almost as many threes as twos. Such is the life of a 5'11 guard.
Ex-NBA journeyman Bateer has only played in three places in his life; the NBA, the NBDL and China. Since flumping out of the NBDL in 2005, Bateer has been back in China, which far more suits his really really really slow foot speed. Despite being 6'11 and 300lbs, Bateer's 3.9 apg rank 14th in the league, a league in which only two players average more than 5.4apg. (Allen's 4.7apg rank tied for 5th.) He was covered in more depth here. And yes, the picture above is of him starring as a bloody enormous monk. Check previous link for details.
Former Nuggets draft pick Xue was picked 57th overall 7 years ago and simply never worked out. He is a 7 foot jumpshooter who does nothing else, and who is the worst rebounding 7 footer you ever did see, as evidenced by those stats. His season totals include 376 minutes, 37 two pointers, 96 three pointers, 15 foul shots, 32 rebounds, 8 assists, 43 fouls and three blocks, numbers about as one dimensional as there can be. But the best part of Xue's season has been his inconsistency. On nights when he's shooting well, he plays the majority of the game; on nights when he isn't, he plays single figure minutes. It's a clearcut coaching strategy, if nothing else. Xue's points output from game to game reads 3, 28, 0, 32, 9, 16, 26, 0, 5, 0, 7, 6, 9, 0, 0, 3, 7, 4, 13, 0, 1, 3, 5, 2 and 0, with three DNP-CD's in there. And yet somehow, despite three DNP-CD's and ten games featuring single digit minutes, Xue is 6th on the team in minutes played. It does not get more inconsistent than that.
(Denver retains Xue's draft rights, but only as a mere technicality.)
Xinjiang's only other contributor is Xu GuoChong (13.0ppg, 3.0rpg), a 6'6 28 year old shooting specialist. You will soon see that the lack of domestic support teams have becomes a trend.
3rd: Zhejiang Guangsha Lions
- Peter John Ramos: 28.8mpg, 16.5ppg, 12.9rpg, 1.4apg, 3.9fpg, 0.3spg, 1.2bpg, 69% FG, 0% 3PT, 66% FT
- Rodney White: 40.0mpg, 28.5ppg, 9.3rpg, 4.0apg, 2.2fpg, 1.6spg, 0.7bpg, 52% FG, 33% 3PT, 75% FT
The Lions are, clearly, heavily dependent on their imports for rebounding. The next highest rebounders on the team are starting power forward Bo Wang (10.5ppg, 4.4rpg), then Taiwanese starting shooting guard Chih-Chieh Lin (11.8ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.1apg), and a couple more guys off the bench grab as-near-as-is 4rpg. But that's pretty much it; the Lions (so termed here so as to not to confuse them with the other Zhejiang team) play basically a 7 man rotation, and the two imports average more rebounds together than the other 5 guys combined. This hasn't stopped them from compiling a 23-5 record, and Ramos's rebounding ranks third in the league. It's particularly impressive considering it comes in only 29mpg.
(Note; Ramos has already committed to signing back in his native Puerto Rico for their league, which takes place in the summer and which started yesterday. However, he won't join until his CBA commitments are over.)
White, one of the worst players to ever record a triple double in NBA history (no offence intended), has not recorded one yet in the CBA this season, despite getting close a number of times. He does however have 12 double doubles in 28 games, and has a season low scoring output of 19, achieved only once. His PPG total ranks tied for fourth in the league, and his APG rank 12th.
As far as I know, Rodney has not vomited on the court at any point this year.
4th: Shanghai Dongfang Sharks
- John Lucas: 40.5mpg, 26.9ppg, 4.0rpg, 4.6apg, 1.3fpg, 1.4spg, 0.0bpg, 48% FG, 45% 3PT, 87% FT
- Garret Siler: 22.6mpg, 14.0ppg, 9.1rpg, 0.5apg, 4.0fpg, 0.4spg, 1.6bpg, 74% FG, 0% 3PT, 57% FT
Lucas's points per game average ranks 7th in the CBA, as does his assist per game average. A somewhat late addition to the team, Lucas has nevertheless stepped right in and found it easy to star in his first ever CBA season. He's been remarkably consistent, peaking with a couple of back to back 40+ point performances in late February, and his three point shot is there as ever. He's no longer being paid by the Rockets, although Shanghai's owner is Yao Ming, so he's still being paid by a Rocket.
The picture above is of a punch-up he got involved in during preseason.
Siler's first professional season out of Division 2 Augusta State hasn't started brilliantly. His per minute numbers are obviously substantial, and the field goal shooting as ridiculously freaking efficient as ever, but unfortunately Siler can't stay on the court. After putting up 13 points, 14 rebounds, 7 blocks and 6 fouls on 32 minutes on debut, Siler's PT since then has been inconsistent due to his foul problems. Only three times has he played more than 30 minutes per game, and he once fouled out in only 10. His last game featured a 31 point, 12 rebound, 1 foul in 28 minute performance in a win over Shanxi, so he can perform Tim Westwood-style big things when given the opportunity. But to be given the opportunity, he has to stop fouling. It's a solid start, though.
Siler's struggles actually work to Lucas's advantage. The rule in the CBA this year is that a team's imports can only played 72 minutes a game between them, excluding overtimes; therefore, Lucas and Siler play big minutes on the same team, yet they do not play together. So when Siler has to sit with foul trouble, Lucas gets to play more. The same is true of all pairings on this list, and it's why there's very few 35mpg+ players on here this year. It's all a part of improving the domestic Chinese product, as opposed to past years, where the two imports would dominate the ball and the game, being as selfish as they chose to be. It's not been especially successful as a rule, but I suppose it can't have hurt.
A Dongfang is a great name for a shark, by the way. Got the two most important body parts all sorted.
5th: Jiangsu Nangang Dragons Nanjing
- DerMarr Johnson: 30.1mpg, 19.9ppg, 5.8rpg, 1.1apg, 3.6fpg, 0.8spg, 1.1bpg, 49% FG, 39% 3PT, 75% FT (left)
- Donnell Harvey: 37.8mpg, 24.3ppg, 12.4rpg, 2.5apg, 3.1fpg, 1.5spg, 0.9bpg, 53% FG, 37% 3PT, 75% FT
- Jameel Watkins: 28.5mpg, 15.5ppg, 9.2rpg, 1.1apg, 3.7fpg, 0.9spg, 1.8bpg, 59% FG, 0% 3PT, 64% FT
Jiangsu started the year with Johnson, who played in their first ten games before being replaced by Harvey for the next 18. Johnson was remarkably inconsistent; after a 43 point debut and a 29 point 13 rebound second game, he totalled only 40 points over the next three games, recovered a bit, then had a 5 point outing in his penultimate game before leaving the team. He is now signed in Puerto Rico. His replacement Harvey has been incredibly consistent and highly productive, tied for 4th in the league in rebounds per game and only just placing outside the top 10 in points as well. Harvey has 14 double doubles in his 18 games, and while his numbers are down on the 30/15 he averaged for Jiangsu last year, they're still pretty damn good.
(The above video is of Johnson rapping under the name "Boss Slim," in a song whose lyrics seem designed to convey the fundamental principles of driving. Changing lanes? All good information.)
Watkins has been with the team all year, and has spent much of his 10 year professional career in Asia, so this is nothing new to him. His numbers are solid if unspectacular, although he did miss some time due to injury. Watkins, who first started at Georgetown way back in 1995, turns 33 this summer. But the Asian basketball market tends to stay open for longer than many others, so this need not be his swansong.
This would be Buddy Holly's favourite CBA team, I'm pretty sure.
6th: Liaoning Panpan Hunters
- Olumide Oyedeji: 31.0mpg, 14.3ppg, 12.4rpg, 1.5apg, 3.7fpg, 1.0spg, 1.1bpg, 55% FG, 0% 3PT, 67% FT
- Brandon Robinson: 30.0mpg, 16.2ppg, 5.9rpg, 3.0apg, 3.4fpg, 2.1spg, 1.0bpg, 56% FG, 28% 3PT, 68% FT
- Zhang QingPeng: 38.2mpg, 21.3ppg, 3.0rpg, 4.2apg, 3.1fpg, 1.8spg, 0.3bpg, 52% FG, 47% 3PT, 90% FT
- Li Xiaoxu: 28.5mpg, 15.5ppg, 9.2rpg, 1.1apg, 3.7fpg, 0.9spg, 1.8bpg, 59% FG, 0% 3PT, 64% FT
As mentioned in my unnecessary intro, Oyedeji averaged as-near-as-is 20/20 last year; specifically, he averaged 20.3ppg, 19.8rpg, 2.9apg, 2.1spg and 1.8bpg. He then went to Puerto Rico in the summer where those averages dropped to 8/9. Puerto Rico has a CBA kind of thing going on whereby it attracts a whole host of fringe NBA talents, but it's a league that runs in the summertime, so players go there for some extra offseason cash as well. Nonetheless, regardless of the similarities, that steep decline in his numbers is evidence of quite how not very good the standard of the CBA is. Particularly last year. (A breakdown of last year in Puerto Rico can be found here; one of those for this year is forthcoming.)
Brandon Robinson has had a weird year. His performance has been inconsistent, and he had a very meh start to the season (averaging 10/4 through December), but while Liaoning have spent the whole year trying to replace him, they haven't done so yet. The Hunters brought in Sean Banks for a trial in January, but he was still recovering from injury, which gave Brandon a stay of execution. And although Liaoning this past week bought Carlos Powell out of his D-League contract and signed him, Robinson is still there, playing as recently as today (recording 22 points and 4 rebounds). Powell is due to start playing next week, so seemingly Robinson's time is coming to a close, but it's been an interesting story of willpower. (Robinson played for Shaanxi last year and averaged 25/10/3/3; like O-Oy before him, he's another example of the CBA's improvements this year. Slight improvements.)
Zhang is the second highest scoring Chinese player in China. He's a 28 year old jumpshooting specialist (more threes than twos, just) who has spent his whole career with Liaoning. This is his best season to date, for not only is he scoring big, he's also 11th in the league in assists per game. Nonetheless, despite the numbers, 28 year old 6'3 shooters are not NBA relevant.
But one Liaoning player who might get some NBA looks is Li Xiaoxu. Despite previously appearing as a 4'2 inch schoolgirl in the seminal Tekken series of computer games, Li is now a 6'10 big man already producing some damn fine numbers. He's listed as 19 years old and has (as far as I can tell) no controversy surrounding his birthdate, so his production for quite such a young age is noteworthy. His height, also, is not ideal but sufficient to garner some attention. 19 year old 6'10 producers in any semi-respectable league have to be evaluated. After all, Xue Yuyang was drafted once. And Li's done far more already than he ever did. Then again, Xue was 7 foot. And Li isn't. That'll factor. Still, it's nice to see some new Chinese blood, for there's not been a great amount of that in the last couple of years.
(By the way, Sun Yue is not in the CBA. Instead, he's back with the Beijing Olympians, the ABA team he was with before he was drafted. They've moved to join the WCBL, which is a spring time league, and have been playing in a series of exhibitions before the WCBL's season begins. From the NBA Champion Lakers to the WCBL. It does not often happen this way.)
7th: Fujian SBS XunXin
- Chris Porter: 32.3mpg, 19.4ppg, 10.3rpg, 2.2apg, 3.5fpg, 2.2spg, 0.3bpg, 54% FG, 32% 3PT, 73% FT
- Jelani McCoy: 34.7mpg, 17.5ppg, 9.2rpg, 2.1apg, 3.6fpg, 0.9spg, 1.8bpg, 69% FG, 100% 3PT (1-1), 36% FT (left)
- Sean Williams: 31.7mpg, 15.0ppg, 11.3rpg, 1.3apg, 4.5fpg, 0.3spg, 4.8bpg, 57% FG, 0% 3PT, 60% FT
- SongLin Gong: 38.2mpg, 21.3ppg, 3.0rpg, 4.2apg, 3.1fpg, 1.8spg, 0.3bpg, 52% FG, 47% 3PT, 90% FT
This is Porter's fifth season with Fujian. He'd probably be eligible for a Chinese passport if the Chinese government recognised the viability, legality and sense of dual citizenship. Porter averaged 25/12 two years and 26/13 last year, so his numbers are slightly down, but for an American import to have spent five consecutive years with any one team is extremely rare. And for a CBA team, I think it's pioneering.
Fujian's other import to begin the season was Jelani McCoy, but he left/was released after 19 games for reasons I am not sure of. Maybe it was the free throw shooting. Sean Williams has played in the 10 games since McCoy's departure, and with 4.8 blocks per game, it's not a surprise that he leads the CBA in blocks. Williams is the same player he ever was; athletic, foul prone, tremendous shotblocker with no significant offense. He hasn't developed in his time in the NBA, which is why he's not in it any more. Nevertheless, in China, he'll get a lot of PT in addition to his big paychecks. So maybe that will help kick start his development.
Unusually, Fujian's leading scorer isn't an import, but instead is 28 year old 6'5 Chinese swingman SongLin Gong. Gong is a former Chinese national team member, and - spoiler alert - he's one of only two Chinese players to lead their CBA team in scoring. The other guy has a pretty good excuse, as we'll see later.
8th: Shandong Flaming Bulls
- Andre Emmett: 33.4mpg, 31.0ppg, 7.6rpg, 3.5apg, 1.3fpg, 2.5spg, 0.3bpg, 53% FG, 39% 3PT, 78% FT
- Stromile Swift: 32.1mpg, 21.5ppg, 12.1rpg, 1.6apg, 3.7fpg, 1.4spg, 3.0bpg, 61% FG, 31% 3PT, 69% FT
Emmett was covered earlier this year, his numbers dropping only slightly since his gaudy start. His 31ppg average is tops in the whole CBA, and would be better still if it weren't for an anomalous 4 point 2 rebound outing on 13th February; in more urgent news, however, a Google image search for his name reveals the fifth most popular result to be a picture of Shania Twain in a Lakers' jersey. That needs work.
Swift's first non-NBA gig of his professional career started kind of slowly, and a combined 19 points and 10 rebounds in the last two games hasn't helped either. Yet immediately proceeding those two games came a six game stretch in which Swift averaged 32.5 points and 15.8 rebounds per game. His 12.1 rebounds per game rank sixth in the CBA, and the 3.0 bpg rank third; when he's good, he's very good. And so are those numbers.
9th: Zhejiang Wanma Cyclones
- Marcus E. Williams: 34.0mpg, 25.5ppg, 8.1rpg, 4.0apg, 2.1fpg, 2.0spg, 0.5bpg, 48% FG, 48% 3PT, 85% FT
- Andre Brown: 35.6mpg, 20.1ppg, 11.7rpg, 1.0apg, 3.2fpg, 1.8spg, 0.4bpg, 58% FG, 16% 3PT, 55% FT
The Cyclones are almost completely reliant on their two imports; their only other significant contributor is 19 year old 6'9 big man Ding Jinhui, who, in addition to being the two time UK Snooker Champion, also averages 12.7 points and 6.3 rebounds. No one else contributes much, save for some decent jumpshooting.
Yet there's nothing wrong with depending on those two, for they appear to be more than equal to it. Those numbers are huge. Williams, a man with NBA talent who should really be in it right now, is putting up huge numbers across the board; his points per game are 11th in the league, his assists 13th, his rebounds extremely high for a wing player, his three point shooting dialled in. Brown too is a nightly double double candidate, with 16 of them in 26 games, and with a 24 rebound game to his name. Zhejiang might only be in 8th place, but without these two, they'd be last. Very last.
NOTE: Previous writings about Andre Brown, including this one, have spoken glowingly of the huge transformations he had seemed to make in his game over this year. They spoke at length about the player he had been compared to the player he was, and how impossible this turnaround was in such a short space of time. However, what I hadn't realised at the time was that those numbers were not those of Andre Brown, but of Marcus Williams. Eurobasket lists the pair's statistics the wrong way around. Sorry about that.
The lesson, as always; learn to speak Mandarin. As Stephon Marbury once said, it's going to be THE language.
10th: Bayi Fubang
- Wang Zhizhi: 39.6mpg, 25.6ppg, 10.1rpg, 1.6apg, 1.8fpg, 1.3spg, 2.1bpg, 46% FG, 39% 3PT, 76% FT
Bayi don't have any imports. They didn't have any last year either, and they never will, for this is the team owned, operated and staffed by the Chinese Army. But they do have former NBA player Wang Zhizhi, the best Chinese player in China, and quite possibly the second best Chinese player in the world. Make Yao play on his broken foot, and Wang might even be first, depending on your opinion of Yi. Wang is the only domestic player to rank in the top 10 in scoring, and one of only two to rank in the top 10 in blocks; the other is his teammate, Xu Zhonghao, a 19 year old 7'0 centre averaging 9.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.9 fouls and 2.2 blocks per game. Instantly, along with Li Xiaoxu above, he's one of the best Chinese big man prospects alive.
11th: DongGuan New Century Leopards
- Tre Kelley: 29.8mpg, 24.2ppg, 2.8rpg, 4.3apg, 1.5fpg, 1.6spg, 0.1bpg, 53% FG, 35% 3PT, 82% FT
- Cedric Simmons: 34.1mpg, 16.9ppg, 8.5rpg, 0.7apg, 3.2fpg, 0.9spg, 1.6bpg, 58% FG, 0% 3PT, 65% FT
- Alexander Johnson: 13.0mpg, 7.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.0apg, 3.0fpg, 1.0spg, 0.0bpg, 60% FG, 0% 3PT, 100% FT (left after 1 game)
- Dajuan Tate: 25.2mpg, 14.4ppg, 3.5rpg, 1.7apg, 4.1fpg, 1.4spg, 0.5bpg, 46% FG, 30% 3PT, 71% FT (left)
- Zhang Kai: 35.4mpg, 16.6ppg, 10.8rpg, 2.0apg, 3.0fpg, 1.4spg, 0.9bpg, 59% FG, 20% 3PT, 71% FT
Unusually, DongGuan (not to be confused with Guangdong) have spent half of this season playing with only one import. They started the season with Johnson and Tate, but Johnson played in only one game before leaving (subsequently joining the D-League), and Cedric Simmons didn't arrive until 16 games later. Tate left after 16 to be replaced by Kelley, and the Simmons and Kelley duo is what Dongguan have now.
Simmons started the year with Peristeri in Greece, but was released in preseason. He then came back to America and the D-League, but played in only 13 games for the Idaho Stampede (14.8ppg, 7.1rpg, 3.6fpg, 2.9bpg) before getting the call-up to China. Doesn't matter what league he plays in, though; he's not a good rebounder. One defensive rebounder every 7 minutes in China? That'll have to go up.
Kelley may have joined late, but it didn't take him long to get started, putting up 31/9 on debut. He has 387 points in only 477 minutes, living the Lee Nailon dream, and even though his highest scoring output of the season (53) was followed immediately by his lowest (3), Kelley's point production has been all there.
Tate, whom Kelley replaced, is another junior college player who had achieved nothing of note until he went to China in 2003. Tate played for two junior colleges, then went to the NAIA, and then began his professional career in the ABA. After scoring 13ppg in his one season there, that was somehow parlayed into a trip to China, where he has spent the last three years. Scoring 26ppg in his first season there, Tate (a 6'5 swingman) got a tryout with the Nuggets, and then returned to China to average 23/7 last year. However, after a highly inconsistent start this year (point totals of 34, 23, 6, 14, 8, 35, 9, 4, 24, 0, 14 and 2), Tate was replaced by Kelley.
Kai is one of the best Chinese players alive, and signed a training camp contract with the Kings in 2008. That may seem unlikely, and it was definitely forgettable, but it really happened.
12th: Jilin Northeast Tigers
- Leon Rodgers: 36.6mpg, 27.9ppg, 8.4rpg, 3.8apg, 3.8fpg, 1.4spg, 0.3bpg, 49% FG, 35% 3PT, 77% FT
- Tasheed Carr: 31.7mpg, 18.4ppg, 5.5rpg, 4.3apg, 3.1fpg, 1.3spg, 0.0bpg, 46% FG, 36% 3PT, 66% FT
- DeAngelo Collins: 36.6mpg, 17.4ppg, 15.8rpg, 2.5apg, 3.6fpg, 1.2spg, 2.8bpg, 47% FG, 33% 3PT (1-3), 43% FT (left)
- Soumaila Samake: 30.5mpg, 11.0ppg, 10.7rpg, 0.5apg, 3.3fpg, 0.8spg, 1.5bpg, 57% FG, 0% 3PT, 83% FT (left)
Rodgers was one of the most incredibly prolific scorers in the CBA last year; indeed, he's been an incredibly prolific scorer in his whole professional career. Rodgers have never played in a high standard league, which helps that prolificness, yet his 35ppg average last year was enough to get a workout (and later a training camp contract) from the Memphis Grizzlies. And as you can see in the numbers above, he's clearly at it again. (As mentioned in the intro, he wasn't the only CBA player last year to get one. Good to see NBA teams paying attention to China. Gotta love the CBA.)
Carr was the guard to Ahmad Nivins's centre at Saint Joseph's last year, where he averaged 14/5/4 as a fifth year senior. He started this season with Ironi Nahariya in Israel and averaged 7.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game before being released and replaced by Lamarr Greer. His 4.3 assists per game rank tied for 9th in the league.
Collins was brought in to replace Rodgers when Leon missed a month due to injury. And as one month replacements go, you can't do much better. His 15.4 rebounds per game leads the CBA, and his 2.8 blocks per game rank 4th. Collins never attended college, declaring for the draft out of Inglewood High School back in 2002, but going undrafted due to his rawness, lack of offensive talent, and chequered off-court life that featured a six month stay in juvenile hall for felonious assault (amongst dozens of other incidents). He's had some NBA looks over the years, most notably of which were from the Raptors, who signed him in 2002, but none amounted to anything. Most of his professional career has been spent doing the Dan Langhi Tour (i.e. around Asia and Central America), although there was a brief D-League stint in there as well. When Rodgers returned from injury a fortnight ago, Collins moved on and signed with Puerto Rican team, Leones de Ponce.
Samake started the season as the second import alongside Rodgers, but was replaced by Carr after only 6 games. He had averaged 18/13 with Jilin last season, and had also spent the previous four years in China with the Zhejiang Cyclones. He has since moved to Montenegro to play for Mornar Basket, which is about as different to China as you can get. As the numbers suggest, he's the same old Soumalia Samake that he ever was. Although the free throw stroke has come on over the years.
13th: Tianjin Rongcheng
- Herve Lamizana: 33.5mpg, 26.1ppg, 10.3rpg, 3.8apg, 3.8fpg, 1.4spg, 0.3bpg, 49% FG, 35% 3PT, 77% FT
- Brandon Crump: 33.8mpg, 20.0ppg, 11.0rpg, 1.7apg, 3.1fpg, 1.1spg, 1.0bpg, 65% FG, 26% 3PT, 51% FT
Lamizana is an athletic former Rutgers forward, a search for whose name reveals this website as the third result. (Hi Herve.) He left Rutgers in 2004 after averaging 13/8/3 blocks, and used his French passport (he is Malian) to spend a season split between Turkey and Israel. He was then signed by the Sixers for training camp in 2005, but did not make the team, and then split the next three years between Israel, South Korea and China. Last year was split between the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, basketball powerhouses not usually covered on this website for reasons that are hopefully obvious. (I did provide a Twitter accompaniment to a rerun of a Senegal vs Egypt game from the FIBA 2007 African Championships yesterday morning, but it was a one off.) Now back in China, Lamizana is dominating the statlines; his points per game rank 8th in the league, his rebounds not far behind, his points per minute simply amazing, and his blocked shots rank second only to DeAngelo Collins who's not here any more. Lamizana also put up one of the best statlines you'll ever see; on February 10th against Fujian, Lamizana played 49 minutes and recorded 38 points, 19 rebounds, 13 blocks, 6 assists and 3 steals. It's not the best CBA statline of the season - we'll get to that later - but it's sure as hell a beautiful one. That's a man's way to get a triple double, that one.
Crump is a former Tennessee graduate doing his own version of the Langhi tour, having been in either China, Kuwait or South Korea since graduating in 2005. He wasn't a very good rebounder in college, but, as is perhaps obvious by this time, it's kind of easy to be a good rebounder in China. Crump also appears to have completely lost his free throw stroke, although the 51% above represents an improvement on last year's 42%.
Nonetheless, despite the help of those two and Lebanese guard Rony Fahed (14.3ppg, 4.4 apg (8th in league), 4.1rpg), Tianjian rank a lame 12th in the league, because they have absolutely no depth. As for why Lebanese players do not count as imports, I'm not sure.
It is Rony Fahed in the picture, by the way.
14th: Shanxi Zhongyu
- Maurice Taylor: 30.2mpg, 19.0ppg, 6.8rpg, 1.7apg, 3.5fpg, 0.8spg, 0.6bpg, 51% FG, 41% 3PT, 66% FT
- Stephon Marbury: 34.3mpg, 23.3ppg, 6.1rpg, 9.8apg, 3.1fpg, 2.8spg, 0.1bpg, 47% FG, 38% 3PT, 84% FT
- Donta Smith: 34.3mpg, 21.7ppg, 8.3rpg, 3.6apg, 2.4fpg, 2.4spg, 1.6bpg, 49% FG, 27% 3PT, 67% FT (left)
- Kenny Adeleke: 19.0mpg, 15.5ppg, 7.5rpg, 0.5apg, 2.0fpg, 2.0spg, 2.0bpg, 65% FG, 0% 3PT, 71% FT (left)
- Lee Benson: 26.2mpg, 16.0ppg, 10.4rpg, 1.4apg, 1.6fpg, 1.2spg, 0.8bpg, 39% FG, 7% 3PT, 45% FT (may have left)
As you can tell from the sheer number of them, Shanxi have had a lot of trouble with their imports this year. They tried out about ten in the offseason, eventually settling upon three; Smith, Taylor and Michael Sweetney. The team had wanted to bring back Lee Benson, who was a star for them last year, but they refused to yield to his contract demands. Taylor has been with the team the whole season, but the rest has been a juggling act. Even though he played well, Smith was replaced after seven games by Adeleke, who got injured in his second game and was replaced for a short time by Benson, seemingly having yielded some on his contract demands. Benson was then replaced after five games by Marbury, which you probably already knew. (Sweetney never played a game for them, by the way.)
While all this was going on, Shanxi kept on losing. At the time of Marbury's first game, Shanxi were 4-13 and in last place in the CBA. They then lost the first 3 games he played in, falling to 4-16. Since then, however, they've won 5 of their last 9. And Marbury has been why.
I had my doubts about whether Marbury would be any good in the CBA, about whether he had anything left to give. But those doubts were misplaced, very misplaced. Marbury is the best player in China. His first couple of games were somewhat sedate as he blew off the rust, but since then he's been on a tear, averaging 25ppg, 9.5apg and 6.5rpg over his last ten games. He even flirted with a quadruple double at one point, totalling 26 points, 12 rebounds, 13 assists and 7 steals in a win over Liaoning last month. Marbury's 9.8 apg lead the entire CBA, and it's not even close; second place is Fujian's Lu Xiaoming with 7.0 per game, and Smush Parker is third with his 5.4. Only one other player has more than 5. Marbury's steals per game are also fourth in the league, and his scoring and rebounding totals are self-evidently huge.
Asked to be a role player in Boston last year, Marbury was really, really bad at it. He was worse offensively than Brian Scalabrine, and when the two played together (as Doc Rivers seemed to like doing), it was game over. However, given a chance to be Starbury again, Stephon is shining. He's had to drop down several rungs of the basketball ladder to do it, but it's worked.
By the way, Shanxi are coached by former Sonics head coach Bob Weiss. Just some trivia there. Oh and even though he's not been rebounding, Maurice Taylor went 10-16 from three point range in Shanxi's last game. That's the same Maurice Taylor as before, the one who hit 5 three pointers in his whole NBA career.
15th: Shougang Beijing Ducks
- Cedric Bozeman: 33.4mpg, 21.3ppg, 6.5rpg, 3.7apg, 3.6fpg, 1.7spg, 0.3bpg, 48% FG, 29% 3PT, 85% FT
- James Mays: 33.1mpg, 26.0ppg, 13.2rpg, 1.9apg, 4.1fpg, 2.1spg, 0.8bpg, 54% FG, 44% 3PT, 52% FT (left)
- Ernest Brown: 34.3mpg, 21.7ppg, 8.3rpg, 3.6apg, 2.4fpg, 2.4spg, 1.6bpg, 49% FG, 27% 3PT, 67% FT
- Sun Ming Ming: 8.3mpg, 1.3ppg, 1.8rpg, 0.1apg, 1.1fpg, 0.0spg, 0.2bpg, 54% FG, 0% 3PT, 50% FT
Mays started brilliantly, as you can see, but then left for undisclosed reasons and is currently unsigned. Bozeman has already been covered, and so in the interests of time, I won't do it again. Also covered was Melvin Ely; he's not listed above, for he has not played a game for the Ducks, yet he almost did, and he may have done kind of maybe once sort of.
Ex-NBA player Brown definitely has played, though, and is averaging almost 20/10. He started this season in Bulgaria with Lukoil Akademik, for whom he 12.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in 11 games before leaving for China. Since being drafted by the Heat in the second round of the 2000 draft, Brown's professional career has read as follows; ABA, IBL, ABA, Globetrotters, Miami Heat, D-League, San Antonio Spurs, China, D-League, Boston Celtics, Greece, China, D-League, Puerto Rico, Turkey, Israel, Poland, China, Puerto Rico, China, Greece, Philippines, Mexico, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and now China again. Note to fringe NBA players everywhere; if you really want a 10 year professional basketball career, it's not going to come easy.
7'9 Sun Ming Ming still can't play. He never will be able to play. He's one of those incredibly rare players that is just too freaking tall for basketball.
16th: Qingdao Double Star
- Chris Williams: 36.4mpg, 25.1ppg, 9.8rpg, 3.7apg, 2.8fpg, 4.1spg, 0.9bpg, 54% FG, 33% 3PT, 65% FT
- Frans Steyn: 30.9mpg, 15.1ppg, 10.2rpg, 0.3apg, 4.5fpg, 1.2spg, 2.2bpg, 64% FG, 0% 3PT, 37% FT (left)
- Reggie Okosa: 30.6mpg, 19.5ppg, 10.8rpg, 1.7apg, 3.7fpg, 1.7spg, 0.5bpg, 53% FG, 25% 3PT, 62% FT
Okosa is a 29 year old Nigerian forward who played two years at VCU and one at LaSalle, whose professional career thus far has been mainly in Asia. He's also played in the USBL, Germany and Argentina, and perhaps hsi best credential is his real first name, Chukwunike. Chukwunike Okosa. I like it.
Williams is an ex-Virginia forward who has been on the Langhi for several years. This is his second year for Qingdao, and his totally insanely good numbers this year are almost as good as last year's. Williams leads the team in all categories except rebounds (second to Okosa) and three point shooting (second to Anan Zhao's 35.7%). This all comes as a 6'7 forward, and his 4.1 steals per game leads the CBA; the only played within 1.3 steals of it is Hu Xuefeng of Jiangsu (3.9).
More importantly, while others such as Marbury and Lamizana threatened quadruple doubles this year, Williams actually did it. In only his second game of the year, on Christmas Day, Williams had 15 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists and 11 steals in a win over Dongguan. He took 21 shots and 4 free throws for his 15 points, but that's not what's important.
Williams and Okosa (who replaced Steyn after 13 games; Steyn is now in Puerto Rico) are basically a two man band for Qingdao. Only one other player averages more than 2.4rpg (Chen Kai, 4.2), there is no strong guard play, and no one can shoot. They are completely reliant upon the duo, but Williams especially. And while Williams is often coming through for them, it's not enough.
17th: Shaanxi Dongshen Kylins
- Corsley Edwards: 39.0mpg, 29.3ppg, 8.3rpg, 2.7apg, 3.1fpg, 1.6spg, 1.1bpg, 54% FG, 69% 3PT, 78% FT (left)
- Tim Pickett: 35.8mpg, 28.5ppg, 6.3rpg, 4.3apg, 2.5fpg, 2.5spg, 0.6bpg, 64% FG, 68% 3PT, 87% FT (left)
Both Edwards and Pickett are former NBA draft picks; Edwards was the last pick in 2002 by Sacramento, and Pickett was picked one place after Trevor Ariza by the Pistons (44th) in 2004. Edwards was 3rd in the league in scoring with his 29.5ppg average, but he left the team in late January after breaking his finger and returned to America.
As mentioned in the intro, Pickett scored 39.4ppg in China last year; while he's been 11 points per game below it this year, it's not through lack of efficiency. Pickett's ridiculously high percentages are no fluke; that 68% three point shooting percentage comes on 120 attempts (81 makes). He did more than score; his APG totalled tied for 10th in the league, and his SPG came 5th. But it's the scoring (also 5th) that was the obvious highlight, and the three point percentage is especially ridiculous.
However, like Edwards, Pickett is also no longer playing for Shaanxi (putting up 40 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists and 6 steals in his last game). And it's been open season without him. They are adrift at the bottom of the table with a 4-25 record, and they lost their last game by 56 points. With no imports remaining, Shaanxi are left with having to rely on their domestic talent, and the fact that they compiled only a 4-25 record while at one stage boasting both the third and fifth leading scorers in the league is a testament to the fact that they don't have any. They can no longer rely on Pickett to try to win games single handedly, and without him they can't compete. Precisely because of that, they serve as a case study for why the value of these imports should not be underestimated.
The CBA league table currently looks like this;
1st: Guandong - 26-2
2nd: Xinjiang - 24-4
3rd: Zhejiang L. - 23-5
4th: Shanghai - 22-6
5th: Jiangsu - 20-9
6th: Liaoning - 18-10
7th: Fujian - 15-14
8th: Shandong - 13-15
9th: Zhejiang C. - 12-16
10th: Bayi - 11-17
11th: DongGuan - 11-17
12th: Jilin - 10-17
13th: TianJin - 9-20
14th: Shanxi - 9-20
15th: Beijing - 7-21
16th: Qingdao - 6-22
17th: Shaanxi - 4-25
Players who tried out for places in the CBA this season but who failed to win spots included Will Conroy, Frank Robinson, Courtney Sims, Lorenzen Wright, Mario West, Melvin Ely and Jamal Sampson. It's perhaps odd that these players would lose out to the Reggie Okosa and Brandon Crump types of this world, but all the more power to Reggie Okosa and Brandon Crump. You've landed yourself a plush gig.
Expect to see Jerome James in this post next year.
About The Author
- Mark Deeks
"The brain behind ShamSports could have been featured in a number of these Twitter lists, but because his website often spends our entire working day lodged in one of our browser tabs we decided to take the boring route and place Mark amongst the professors. Deeks might be the funniest man you've never met, he does exhaustive work with the NBA's salary minutiae and transaction follow-ups, and he's a stone-cold must-follow. Stone-cold fox, too, ladies. Or, some gentlemen."