Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sun-rise, Sun-set

So I was watching a re-broadcast of a game from last year between Team China and New Zealand in basketball during my stay in China when a certain 6-9 Shaun Livingston-esque point guard named Sun Yue checked in off the bench about three-quarters of the way through the first quarter.

The first thing that went through my mind was, "Sun Yue? Wasn't this guy drafted by the Lakers last year? Shouldn't he be good enough to start on a suspect Chinese team?" I kept a close eye on his play, and some things became clear to me, as the question in my mind changed to "Why is this guy a point guard?"

First off, he's clearly not a natural point guard. He's 6-9, for god's sakes, which would make him the tallest point guard in the NBA. For comparison's sake, this makes him the same height as Kevin Durant, Al Harrington, Ben Wallace, and Josh Smith.

Secondly, he doesn't possess the skill set necessary to be an effective ball handler. He's fast and athletic for his size, but not compared to the TJ Fords of the world. Moreover, being so tall, it takes longer for the ball to reach the floor and come back when he dribbles, leaving open to being stolen from.

Lastly, he doesn't play like a point guard. He may have led his ABA team in assists last year with 6.7 per, but he certainly did not show it in this game as he finished with 1 assists to 3 turnovers. He even had 3 blocks in the game, including a spectaculur out-of-nowhere block of a breakaway lay-up, think Tayshaun Prince denying Reggie Miller in the 2004 playoffs. In his last year in the ABA, he averaged 2.7 blocks, which would put him only behind Marcus Camby, Josh Smith, and Chris Kaman this year. I feel like point guards should never be a threat for a dirty triple, but that's just me.

That being said, I expect that should be what Sun Yue should be shooting to be in the NBA, if he ever makes it there, a Chinese version of Tayshaun Prince. He's built the same way, possesses about the same attributes (save for the ridiculously long arms), and seems to have a similar demeanor. However, he is in no way, nor will ever be, even an international-level point guard, let alone a NBA-level one.