In 2016, the Houston Rockets selected Qi in the second round of the NBA draft, knowing that he would likely stay in China for another year or two. The time has come for him to play in the NBA, but not many are sure as to what he brings or what he will provide for the team.
The Houston Rockets are at a nice stage as an organization. They have elite talent, with more on the way. They also have a good number of veterans that can teach some younger players how to play the game effectively. That is where Zhou Qi comes in.
Zhou Qi is a very tall young man, towering at 7’1″. He played center in the Chinese league, just like most 7 footers do. But he has very little meat on his bones. He does not have the size to body up against NBA big men and will be an interior defensive liability for any team. Although his length will get him his fair share of blocks, the tradeoff is an ease of access to the rim for just about any opposing big man in the league.
Anthony Davis, Karl Anthony-Towns, Draymond Green and most others will have no problem muscling up against Qi into the paint due to his weak post defense. That is where some coaches will draw the line and deem him unable to play center. But that isn’t always a bad thing.
His height may be tall enough for the center position, but his speed and shooting ability would make him a very serviceable stretch forward. He would give teams extra height on the floor for help defense.
To describe him perfectly, Zhou is a 7-foot twig with a good jumper. He can shoot the 3 with ease and pull up from nearly anywhere on the court. Although he has not thrived shooting the ball in the Summer League, he has the skill.
Where Should Zhou Start?
Because of his shaky start to American basketball, it might be a good idea for the Rockets to begin his career in the G-league. This allows him to get used to the speed Mike D’Antoni’s offense and also create some chemistry with some players in the organization.
His decision to come over from China shows that he feels ready for the NBA. From summer league tape, Qi seems a bit overwhelmed offensively. His 3-point shot just would not fall, but his consistent shot attempts let us know that he is not afraid to shoot the ball. That is a characteristic D’Antoni enjoys: the best way to get out of a slump is to keep shooting.
As for his contribution to the Rockets, Zhou could be the future at Power Forward. With Clint Capela hopefully locking down the center position for the next decade, there is a spot open for a younger forward to grow with him.
The idea of Clint Capela and Zhou Qi guarding the basket is a scary picture when you take into account Zhou’s potential. Just recently, we were waiting on Capela to gain some weight. Once Zhou does so, this duo will be a fun one to watch. And the excitement only grows with the idea of another 7-footer coming off the bench in Isaiah Hartenstein.
Will He Make the Roster?
For the 2017-2018 season, there will need to be some injuries on the club for Zhou to make his way to some NBA action. He was drafted for the future and it is only his second year out of the draft, so there is no need to rush his arrival.
The Rockets have already shown faith in the young man, signing him to a multi-year deal earlier in the offseason. There is obviously some high expectations for Qi and the Rockets are being cautious in their approach.
More from Space City Scoop
- Rockets: Time to return the slander towards Rachel Nichols
- What the Rockets must do with the second overall pick
- Houston Rockets: The case for, and against, trading Christian Wood
- NBA Rumors: Why the Houston Rockets shouldn’t trade up to no. 1 in NBA Draft
- 3 players that would be a perfect fit for the Houston Rockets at 23 or 24
From a small sample size this summer, Zhou Qi has shown some serious ability to block shots from all over the court. This ability has been seen at the three point line and in the paint. His length is too much to ignore.
Yao Ming comparisons may be a little far-fetched. He may very well be the next Yao or even better, but there is no way of knowing until we see how he maintains himself against some of the best players in the world.
Once he hones in on his offensive game, the kid could be special. The Rockets have time, but the sooner he can contribute, the better for both the Rockets and Zhou.