Zhou Qi is a center from Xinjiang. Qi is 7’2 and has a wingspan of 7’8. For the year, he averaged, 34.2 minutes per game, 15.8 points per game, 9.8 rebounds per game, 1.5 assists per game, 3.2 blocks per game, 1.1 steals per game, while shooting 60.3% from the field, and 60.0% from three.
- Excellent size and length
- Fast player for his size
- Efficient finisher at the rim
- Range for any shot
- Great ball handler
- Good passer
- Great overall defender
- Shot blocking potential
- High basketball IQ
- Rapidly improving
- High ceiling
- Mental attitude
- Lacks leadership skills
- Age questions
- Interior defense
- Slow shot release
- Inability to take over a game
The country of China is pinning a lot of hope on the future development of Zhou Qi. They have longed for another star in the league since Yao Ming retired. Qi is a completely different prospect than Ming, but he could have the same type of impact on the global spectrum for the NBA if he can get onto the court.
On offense, Qi has a bizarre skill set for a player his size. Qi has a great ability to finish around the rim, thanks to his soft touch, and length over his opponents. He is also able to finish with both hands which is a rare ability from many of the other big men prospect in this draft class. Qi will need to bulk up to continue his post game in the league, as he is little to no ability to back his opponent down, and has to settle for his mid-range game. Qi has a very reliable mid-range game. His shooting mechanics are good, he just has a slow release, which could cause problems transition to the next level. Qi also is developing a reliable three point shot, which would make his overall offensive impact that much more potent. Qi started his basketball career off wanting to be a guard, so he is great ball handling skills for a player his size. Although you would not want him bringing the ball up often, he is capable of beating his man on the dribble, something you rarely see for center prospects. Passing is another good quality out of Qi. He is a willing distributor, and a player his size and as offensively skilled draws many double teams, and he finds his open teammates for easy looks.
On defense, Qi needs to get much stronger to last in the NBA. Interior defense is the biggest hole for him, as he struggles against stronger opponents, who back him down, and are able to draw fouls against him. On the perimeter, Qi has great speed to stay in front of his man, his struggles again stem from his weight, where stronger opponents can beat him up. In terms of shot blocking, Qi possesses the natural ability to time shots perfectly without getting into foul trouble. He has good awareness to be a great help side defender, and contest any shot near the rim. Rebounding is not a strong suit for Qi, as his lack of strength causes him to rely on length instead of the basics of boxing his man out.
Overall, the key for Qi to become a successful player in the league will come down to his ability to gain muscle. His ability to shoot from anywhere, mixed with passing and handling skills should allow for him to at least become a role player in the league. If he adds strength, and could hold his own against the stronger big men in the league, he could become a devastating two-way player. Qi does have questions about his real age, as speculations are that he is somewhere between 20-25. The likelihood is he is in the 20-23 range, which still gives teams time to develop him properly. Qi has a likely drafting spot anywhere from 20-40. Teams in the 20-30 range could use Qi to keep their salary caps down, while they develop him further in China, while teams in the early second round could use him to try to bolster their international following. A team like Boston, who has multiple early round second picks should be favored to select him, as they look for a shot blocker, and solid frontcourt player to develop around their plethora of guards.
Pro Comparison: Kristaps Porzingis
This seems like the cheap comparison between seven footers who can shoot and international, but they have similar skill sets. Porzingis completely took over the league in New York, and looks to be destined for a long, prosperous career in the league. Qi is not quite as developed as Porzingis coming in, but has the skill set to be just as dominant.
Offensively, Qi and Porzingis both have great abilities to finish around the rim with either hand. Porzingis is the stronger of the two, so he can be more effective in the league. In terms of their mid-range attack, both players are extremely effective. They both have great mechanics, a bit slow, but they get the job done. Qi and Porzingis are also able to step it out to three point range, and hit at a high level. For two players over seven footers, Qi and Porzingis are insanely good ball handlers. They have the ability to attack their man off the dribble, a rare commodity. Porzingis and Qi also see the court well, and a good passers from anywhere on the court.
Defensively, Qi and Porzingis were known for their shot blocking potential. Both are great help side defenders, as they have the timing and length to alter almost anything near the rim. On the interior, Porzingis has the advantage thanks to his overall strength. He does not get backed down like Qi does. On the perimeter, both players have good quickness to keep their man in front of them. Rebonding is another advantage for Porzingis just because of his strength, but neither is a dominant rebounder, which is a bit surprising considering their size and length.
Porzingis and Qi may not be the most physically similar, but their game has too many similarities to pass up this comparison. Porzingis started to take over the league faster than many people expected, but did show his limitations. Qi will need a few more seasons to develop before having the same impact, but both players have similar offensive potentials, mixed with elite shot blocking potential. If both players can reach their full potential, it will be a great thing for international basketball.
By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17