(Originally posted at Upside & Motor).
Wang Zhelin is about to conclude his third season as a pro in the Chinese league. His team regressed this season and will finish with one of the worst records in the CBA but Wang’s had yet another highly productive year. He just turned 21 last week, meaning he doesn’t have to make himself eligible for the NBA draft, but after three full seasons of pro experience, Wang might consider transferring to the United States.
Wang’s top skill is his ability to finish in transition and out of the pick-and-roll. He is a very fluid runner when sprinting up the court and diving down the lane off of setting a ball screen. He is an iffy screener, who doesn’t always set strong position or make sure he draws contact, but has soft hands to catch the ball on the move and awareness to fill the open gaps behind the defense. He’s proven able to finish strong with momentum and through contact, too.
Wang also gets touches on the post and has exhibited good ball skills. He tends to set position in the mid-post area. This gives him more space for his preferred move — a face-up drive with his left hand — but it could also be because Wang struggles to establish deep position. It’s hard to say because he doesn’t engage in much physical play. Wang is currently listed at 220 pounds by CBA Data, which means he trimmed down 23 pounds from when he was weighed at the Hoop Summit three years ago.
But, though he does not manage to back down opponents on pure strength, Wang has proven capable of maintaining balance through contact. He also gets enough separation for close range attempts through smooth footwork and patience, working his defender with fakes. He has managed to score well around the length in this level of competition and draw lots of shooting fouls but struggles to elevate from a stand-still position — not promising for his NBA future.
Nonetheless, according to RealGM, Wang has finished his 479 shots at a 60.5 percent clip and averaged 6.2 free throw attempts per 36 minutes this season. He has converted just 64.7 percent of his foul shots but there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with his shooting mechanics. It seems as if he rushes through the process at times.
Though it’s unlikely his post game will translate to the NBA, his ball skills might. Wang has flashed some very quality passing, scanning the floor with his back to the basket and on the move. He assisted on 6.7 percent of Fujian’s scores in his 1,276 minutes, ranking 10th in the league among centers. Wang is susceptible to getting the ball stripped on double-teams but has generally used his body well to protect his dribble. His 14.2 turnover rate is quite acceptable in the context of his 24 percent usage rate.
It’s also questionable if his offensive rebounding will translate. Wang has been very good in the Chinese league, collecting 14.2 percent of Fujian’s misses when he’s been on the floor. He looks to establish inside position and plays with good energy but can be pushed off his spot by tougher players and is unable to rebound outside of his area due to a short wingspan. Wang boxes out with some consistency but doesn’t play with a lot of toughness, which is also an issue on the post, where he struggles to hold ground.
On the other end, Wang plays with good effort. He hustles back in transition and gets in his stance when showing-and-recovering on the pick-and-roll. His most impressive feature is his lateral mobility to stay in front of smaller guards attacking him off the bounce and his size well to challenge shots at the rim. Wang lacks the closing speed and the length to effectively contest shots on the perimeter, though. He is not very aggressive leaving his man and crashing inside to protect the rim, either. Maybe he is coached to play that way but he’s blocked just 24 shots on 33 appearances.
Wang has collected 22.1 percent of opponents’ misses when he’s been on the floor. While it ranks him in the top 20 in the CBA, it’s rather average for a potential NBA prospect. Nevertheless, it’s relevant to notice Wang plays a lot of minutes without substitution for a seven-footer, averaging 37.5 per game this season and 40 per game in 2013-2014. It’s not uncommon to see him get fatigued in the fourth quarter of games, and that can affect the energy with which he plays.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.