BEIJING — As one CBA (collective bargaining agreement) goes down, another CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) is just getting ready to fire up. The Chinese season is scheduled to begin Nov. 19.
The CBA is a little-known league for American readers, so I will provide you with a preseason power ranking.
The defending champs, as always, are accorded the deserved honor of starting the new season atop any power rankings, apart from their new addition of Yi Jianlian.
1. Guangdong Southern Tigers
Including Yi, the defending champions have eight national team players and a number of national youth team players. Their only American player for now is James Singleton, but the club is contacting Rodney Stuckey and Delonte West, one of whom may come to China, sources told me.
2. Xinjiang Flying Tigers
Quincy Douby had a phenomenal season last year in Xinjiang, but unfortunately he suffered a season-ending wrist injury last weekend. But as the richest team in the CBA, Xinjiang is hoping to capitalize on the uncertainty created by the NBA’s suddenly uncertain future to land a NBA star such as Jamal Crawford or Carlos Arroyo. Xinjiang lost just one game last regular season (31-1), and has a strong desire to win a CBA championship this season. Kenyon Martin and Mengke Bateer will lead the team to fight for this goal.
3. Beijing Ducks
After five underachieving seasons, the Ducks finally have a strong roster to be a elite team in the CBA. They were a playoff team last season, but got swept by Xinjiang in the first round. This time Beijing kept Randolph Morris, who averaged 29.9 points, 12.2 rebounds last season, and signed former NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury. Starbury wrote a column for Titan Sports earlier this week in which he said,: “Beijing team will win a bunch of games in the coming season.” As a native of Beijing, I believe his words.
4. Zhejiang Golden Bulls
An inside source told me last week, that J.R. Smith was eager to go back to the United States if the lockout ended, but his agent, Leon Rose, advised him to stay in China for the entire season. J.R. Smith is considered to be the best scorer in this league, and one of his teammates told me, “If he gets 70 points in a single game, I won’t be surprised.” Smith will take the Golden Bulls to the playoffs for sure, but if they want to get into the semi-finals, Josh Boone has to improve his inside moves.
5. Liaoning Dinosaurs
They have two national team guards, Zhang Qingpeng and Yang Ming, and some talented young players such as Guo Ailun, who is expected to be the future leader of the Chinese national team. As a wing player, Rodney Carney could be elite on both ends of the court. But the biggest problem is whether Josh Powell, listed at 6-foot-9, is tall enough to protect the paint.
6. Zhejiang Lions
They have some big names: Wilson Chandler, Dwyane Jones, Wang Bo (former Chinese national team forward), and two smart players from Chinese Taipei (Wu Tai-hao and Lin Chi-chieh). But their coach, Jim Cleamons, has two concerns: 1) Jones is not good enough to compete with other big men in the league; 2) There is no elite point guard in their roster. Sources told me Zhejiang is contacting some NBA big men, one of whom is DeAndre Jordan, who rejected an offer the Lions last month.
7. Jiangsu Dragons
Tang Zhengdong, the three-time CBA MVP, went to Xinjiang in the off-season, but Jiangsu still has Hu Xuefeng, one of the best point guards in this league, and Yi Li, who is the sixth man on the Chinese national team. Dan Gadzuric has gained a lot of praise from his coach and teammates, but Mardy Collins is rumored to be replaced in the near future.
8. Jilin Northeast Tigers
With Cartier Martin, Osama Daghles and national team guard Yu Shulong, Jilin have one of the best back-court formations in the league. Their coach, Wang Han, said of Martin, “I think he is the most underrated player of this season.”
9. Dongguan Leopards
American players: Josh Akognon (Nigerian-American); Shavlik Randolph.
10. Bayi Rockets
American players: None.
11. Shanxi Brave Dragons
American players: Marcus Williams; Charles Gaines.
12. Fujian Sturgeons
American players: Anthony Robson; Will McDonald.
13. Shandong Golden Lions
American players: Alan Anderson; Othello Hunter.
14. Guangdong Foshan Dralions
American players: Gerald Green; Marcus Douthit.
15. Qingdao Eagles
American players: Lester Hudson.
16. Shanghai Sharks
American players: Mike Harris; Ryan Kelly.
17. Tianjin Gold Lions
American players: David Harrison; Donnell Harvey
Guan Weijia is a columnist for Titan Sports, The Beijing News and qq.com. His columns for SheridanHoops.com appear every Wednesday.