2016 NBA draft profile: Xinjiang Flying Tigers' F/C Zhou Qi


Zhou Qi

Position: Forward/center

Height: 7-foot-2

Weight: 218 pounds

Team: Xinjiang Flying Tigers

Since Dirk Nowitzki entered the NBA and made his mark as a true 7-footer that can shoot from outside like a guard, teams have been on the hunt for the next great player with that same skill set. The Knicks believe they found him in Kristaps Porzingis, and whoever drafts Zhou Qi will hope the same thing.

While not the main scoring option for Xinjiang of the Chinese Basketball Association (those duties actually belonged to NBA journeymen Andray Blatche, Andrew Goudelock and Bryce Cotton), Zhou still managed to put up strong numbers. He averaged 15.8 points (60.3 percent shooting), 9.8 rebounds and a league-leading 3.2 blocks per game.

With that type of game and Zhou reaching a buyout with Xinjiang just last week that will allow him to come to the NBA in 2017-18, there will be a number of teams looking to snag the center in the draft.

You can't teach height and Zhou has plenty to go around. At 7-2 he also boasts a 7-7½ wingspan. That comes in handy when shooting over opponents, but Zhou's length proved to be an even bigger factor on defense. He shows excellent timing and doesn't fall for pump fakes, which helped him lead the CBA in blocks per game by 1.3 over the next-closest player.

Even at his size, Zhou can move as well as any current NBA center. He's got solid footwork that helps him maneuver around the rim on offense and cover ground in a hurry on defense. He can get out on the break if needed.

Still, the thing that could really separate Zhou is his rapidly-improving jump shot. The center was always known to have a mid-range jumper, but he has extended that out to the three-point line over the last year. After making just 1 of 10 three-point attempts a season ago, Zhou drilled 9 of 16 (60 percent) shots from long range this season. A small sample size, but much more than you expect from any traditional center.

He's thin. Like extremely thin. Just think about it this way: Zhou is a full three inches taller than Nerlens Noel but weighs 10 pounds less than the Sixers big man. Zhou will need to pack on the pounds if he wants to survive on the low block in the NBA.

Also, Zhou apparently doesn't seem to rise to the occasion when the bright lights are shining. According to Lukas Peng of NBADraft.net, who has seen much more of Zhou than myself, "Every time NBA personnel are watching, he does not seem to be able to perform to his abilities (Nike Summit, CBA, etc.)." That doesn't bode well for a guy looking to play on the game's biggest stage in the NBA.

How he'd fit with Sixers
Good in some aspects, but not particularly well overall. While the Sixers would certainly welcome a big man that can stretch opposing defenses with his jump shot, Zhou still does a lot around the rim where they have a host of bigs already in place. Plus, that reported inability to show up in primetime definitely won't go over well with the fan base.

NBA comparison
He has a similar game to Porzingis, but Zhou isn't anywhere near as skilled or has the same toughness. With that said, I'll go with Kelly Olynyk. Zhou is likely the better defender, but both move well for their size and have dependable jump shots from mid-range and beyond the arc.

Draft projection
Look for Zhou to be selected in the late 20s.

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