Andray Blatche's fall hints CBA market transformation

Updated 2018-01-08 16:31:06 Xinhua

Since Andray Blatche joined CBA side Xinjiang three and a half years ago from the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, he has accumulated 4,000 loyal fans, chanting his name to the beat of a drum at Hongshan Stadium every match-day night.

But now he is relegated to watching Augusto Lima enjoying the cheers that once belonged to him.

When he signed a deal with Xinjiang in 2014, the former Brooklyn Nets star once had a chance to shine.

Thanks to his advanced offensive skills, Blatche was regarded as the most dominant low-post player in this league. He even helped Xinjiang win their first championship last season. Local fans called him "Lyu Bu," a well-known hero in ancient China.

However Blatche has been criticized for his poor performance and undisciplined behavior this season, averaging 12.8 points and 6.4 rebounds in five games, and having a negative impact on the defending champion's defensive efforts.

Xinjiang eventually signed Brazilian center Augusto Lima to replace him last Wednesday.

Despite falling out of favor, Blatche still having a chance to go back to the court as a substitute in playoffs, which put him in a better place than Edwin Jackson, another international player with Guangdong, who did not fare too.

The eight-time championship winner released him after Friday's loss due to his poor performance. The top scorer of Liga ACB (Asociacion de Clubs de Baloncesto) only averaged 15.8 points and 4.2 assists in CBA.

This is part of a continuing trend. Whether its Kenyon Martin, Steve Francis or Norris Cole, it is common that foreign players are not faring very well in China. All of the championship contenders in CBA prefer to gather quality domestic players and to pair them with suitable international ones, building a teamwork system in which a player's strengths are magnified and his flaws masked.

Some so-called "lesser" sides also try to reverse their fates by adding pieces strategically from the free-agent market.

Beijing Aolong's big off-season splash was to acquire one of the league's best international players from their city rivals: Stephon Marbury.

The former New York Knicks all-star might be close to the end of his career, but he was still a beast when the young troop need him most. After the experienced point guard joined the club, their locker room is now probably unmatched character-wise, offering the perfect mix of veteran leadership and youthful athleticism.

Hopefully, other international talents in the league can learn from Marbury's ability to encourage his younger teammates and find ways to work better with their squads.

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