This summer has been a series of stand-out performances for Zhou Qi. He led his Chinese national team towards a championship win over Iran in the 2018 Asian Games. Are Zhou’s remarkable recent performances a foresight into his bigger potential role with the Rockets organization? Will the diminished role of backup center Nene Hilario create an opportunity for Zhou Qi to carve his role into one of the most talented rosters within the NBA?
Zhou Qi (nicknamed “Joe Cheese” through social media and reporters incapable of pronouncing foreign names) posted 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks in the Asian Games finals win. Capping off the spectacular night with a highlight inbound dunk over a gargantuan Iranian representative.
In the opening game of the tournament against the Philippines, he singlehandedly took over and finished with 25 points and 15 rebounds. If Zhou Qi can fill out physically and maintain extreme aggression on the boards and blocks: he has the chance to become a valued presence in the NBA.
Although Zhou only averaged 6.9 minutes in 18 games for the Rockets in his rookie season, Houston has to identify the potential within him especially after illustrating his talent over these recent summer exhibitions.
His split-time last season between the G-League Rio Grande Valley Vipers and the Rockets lacked an impressive showing in the 7 footer’s valued outside of his shooting capabilities. Although with over 2 blocks recorded per game in Rio Valley, Zhou Qi did show signs of becoming a presence in the paint.
The Rockets bench is impressive and fluid. Understanding the balance of first and second unit are necessary for Houston to compete with the likes of Golden State this year. If Zhou Qi can become an integral part of our second unit and fill any voids of backup center then he very well might be the most underrated player on the entire roster. There is nothing funny about Zhou Qi besides his nickname, oh, and that time Phoenix rooted for him blocking their own players last year.
The Houston Rockets have extensive experience with profiting through the Asian economic market interested in NBA basketball. Asian superstars Yao Ming and Jeremy Lin both highlight the value of a global interest in your organization. This potential global interest is a looming factor dependent on the talent and success of Zhou Qi’s next few seasons within his career.
Zhou Qi’s overall progression will continue to lead basketball fans away from undermining the player potentially as a meme, and hopefully continue his growth as one of the most underestimated, unique, yet dynamic players hidden in the league.