Last year, the Rockets drafted 7’2” center/forward Zhou Qi out of China. The talented tall man (he weighs just 218 pounds, so I hesitate to call him a “big man”) spent this past season playing for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association, but now it appears the Rockets will make every effort to have him in the fold in H-town for this coming year.
According to Rockets beat man Jonathan Feigen:
As mentioned in some of our post-season coverage, Rockets do intend to sign Zhou Qi, a 2nd round pick in 2016, this off season. https://t.co/iRH4Hb8Wqv— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) June 2, 2017
The 21-year-old (although there’s been some Mutombo-esque rumors of his true age) Zhou is coming off a season in the CBA in which he averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and a steal per game, and he shot 55.8 percent from the field. He also showed as a capable three-point shooter, knocking down 36.4 percent from beyond the arc in a little over 1 attempt per game. He also shot almost 72 percent from the free throw line, and his shooting prowess could find him a place in a Houston rotation in need of some talent and additional range in the front court.
He’s also a skilled shot blocker, has a high basketball IQ, and can run the floor, but the obvious question mark is can he handle the physicality of the NBA? Zhou’s slight frame will be a huge liability banging inside, and he’ll need to pack on some serious muscle and man-strength to avoid being pushed around.
Luckily though, it shouldn’t be anything a professional strength and conditioning program can’t fix, and Zhou has the height and the skills to make him an intriguing option. The Rockets could really use another promising young player in the pipeline, and Zhou’s development will be something to keep an eye on if the Rockets do, in fact, manage to get him over here this year.
He was already training in Houston back in April, so hopefully that’s a good sign we’ll see him in the fold. Here’s some Zhou highlights from this year’s CBA playoffs.