The Houston Rockets had a formidable duo with its former center and NBA star Dwight Howard paired with prolific scorer James Harden. Will they be successful in supplanting their strong center position with Zhou Qi this season?
The 20-year-old Zhou Qi has attracted a lot of attention in the NBA due to his size and finesse. The 7-footer is quick; he can handle the ball well, which makes him difficult to defend at mid range, and he has a fine touch from the 3-point range as well.
With a wingspan of 7-7 ¾, added to his 7 ft. 2 in. height he is practically impossible to defend. He can both score and defend well, though, averaging 3.3 and 3.2 blocks per game in past two seasons with the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) where he signed a 5-year contract with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers.
The Houston Rockets don’t expect to Zhou Qi to play for them this upcoming season, but will try to work something out in the summer of 2017.
Zhou Qi has reached an agreement with the Flying Tigers that will allow him to buyout his contract and make a huge leap to the NBA for $650,000. It is not clear if he’ll be able to exercise this option when the CBA season ends this, or if he’ll strike a deal with the Rockets this summer.
It would make more sense if they made a deal for next offseason, so the big man from China would have time to adjust in the NBA with a longer contract, as suggested in a report by Hoops Rumors. Plus, he still needs to learn English to ease his way with his new team.
Last season Zhou Qi averaged 15.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.1 steals and 3.2 blocks with the Flying Tigers, and it will be interesting to see if he can convert these into NBA stats alongside James Harden.
The Houston Rockets will have to improve on their defense especially after losing Dwight Howard to the Hawks, and here’s hoping James Harden finally improves on his defensive work.
Unlike Dwight Howard, Zhou Qi has a lanky frame, which obviously needs to be developed. He has much time to do that being only 20 years of age, although NBA analysts doubt its veracity, as the CBA has a habit of allowing its players to enter the draft at the age of 22.
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