Thoughts on Haowen Guo and Harold Yu in a CBA Basketball Game

June 6th, 2022

By Alan Lu

Recently, 7-3 Chinese center, Harold Yu has been getting some draft buzz as a result of his performance from the CAA Pro Day that was held recently in late May.  He also put up strong numbers in China’s top professional league, the CBA, so I decided to take the time to watch him play for the Zhejiang Golden Bulls in a November 11th game against Shanghai Sharks, with thanks to YouTube via Panda Sports.  It also provided an opportunity for me to watch Shanghai’s 6-7 swingman, Haowen Guo, who played at the 2021 G-League Elite Camp last year.  Here are my thoughts on Guo and Yu fared, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

Haowen Guo played in China’s top professional league, the CBA, and he also improved his shooting percentages this year. Also, Guo is eligible to be selected in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Chen Xinbo/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Haowen Guo is an athletic, energetic swingman that plays for Shanghai, and he had a fairly solid season this year in the CBA.  He generally showed an improved outside shot to complement his above average athletic gifts, playmaking skills, and scoring potential.  In this game, he was able to put that outside shot on display and he also showed some playmaking and defensive skills, but he also tended to rush himself that would lead to some bad misses and turnovers at times.

He showed a decent ability to knock down threes to provide some floor spacing for his team on offense.  Guo was able to make a couple of open spot-up threes in this game.  He ran off of a ball screen to make a quick, open corner three off the catch.  He also made a wide-open three another time.  When given ample time and space to shoot, Guo can capably knock down threes, especially if he’s wide open to take those shots.  However, he also tended to rush his shots when opponents would rotate to close out on him, which would lead to some bad misses.

Also, Guo showed a decent ability to score off the dribble.  He is a quick, agile swingman that would drive aggressively to the hoop to draw plenty of fouls upon his defenders to get free throws.  However, sometimes he would take tough, rushed shots without having a sense of where his defenders are on the floor, which would lead him prone to misses, especially when he wouldn’t get foul calls.  Another time, he sprinted down court to get the ball on the break, but he pump faked without a defender seemingly in the area, but it allowed an opponent to get back, and he then missed a contested shot at the rim.

Guo also showcased fairly average playmaking skills in this game.  He is an unselfish playmaker that can pass and handle the basketball.  He would make the extra pass to find the open man, and he did a good job of making passes off the dribble and in transition to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  However, sometimes he would play too fast and out of control, which would lead him to commit careless ball-handling turnovers.  Other times, he can struggle to create separation when trying to create plays in one-on-one situations, which would lead him to commit offensive fouls when driving to the basket.

He didn’t grab many rebounds, but Guo was able to get a board on each end of the floor.  He chased down a ball to get an offensive board due to making a good motor play that time.  He also leapt up to get a defensive rebound and then quickly pushed the ball up the floor afterwards. 

Defensively, he struggled in this game.  For the positives, he will play passing lanes, and when defending a drive, he managed to run in to intercept a dropped pass to get a steal.  Guo is an above average athlete that can cover some ground, and he can get steals and deflections for his team.  However, he would tend to take bad gambles defensively, and bad angles when defending screens.  He would take bad angles when defending screens, which would lead him to be out of position and his team would give up three-point baskets.  He also would misplay balls on steal attempts, which would lead him out of position, and it would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Early on, he leaked out way too early as he assumed his teammate would get a defensive rebound when he didn’t, and he was then late to rotate to an open corner shooter on his way back, which led his team to give up the three-point basket that time.

Overall, Haowen Guo had his ups and downs in his team’s win over Zhejiang.  He made a couple of threes early, but he was streaky with his outside shot later on, and he was both turnover prone, and tended to be out of position defensively.  He will need to time to hone and polish up his game, and right now, he is a long shot to be drafted.  He will need to continue to improve as an overall player, but right now, he may be talented enough to make an NBA summer league team’s roster this year.  He will need to improve his outside shot and defense.  If he is able to make his way to the NBA, he could end up being a versatile, situational role player similar to New Orleans Pelicans’ forward, Naji Marshall in the league.

7-3 center, Harold Yu played in China’s top professional league, the CBA this year, and had a productive season in the CBA this year. Also, he is currently eligible to be selected in the 2022 NBA Draft.
John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Zhejiang’s 7-3 center, Harold Yu had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Shanghai.  From a numbers’ standpoint, he played well, as he was efficient as a scorer, and he also excelled as a rebounder on the floor.  Visually though, he looked to be a lumbering big man that struggled to get up and down the court.  He would tend to be the last man down the court, and his lack of mobility would hurt his team on defense, as they would be forced to play lots of drop coverages when defending pick and rolls, and he would allow opponents to score on plenty of open jumpers.  He did make a few athletic plays, as he was able to throw down some dunks in transition, and he also blocked a couple of shots, but his lack of foot speed could make it difficult for him to adjust to the modern NBA game.

Yu showed a satisfactory ability to score in the post.  Despite not having great foot speed, he showed good footwork to score on low post plays.  Yu would use drop steps and spin moves to score around the basket.  He did take too much time when posting up once, which led his team to commit a 24-second shot clock violation, but if he had gotten it off in time, he would’ve scored on a smooth, turnaround jumper from the baseline.  However, sometimes he would not get enough shooting touch or accuracy on his shots, and he would sometimes take rushed, off-balanced shots that would lead to misses.

Also, he showed a knack for scoring on hustle plays.  After bobbling the catch on a roll to the rim, Yu then promptly scored off the glass.  He was able to score on a couple of put backs after grabbing offensive rebounds for his team.  He also drew free throws after getting the ball on a cut to the hoop.  Yu would sometimes leak out early and already be down court, which would enable him to score on powerful dunks.  However, on one play after getting the ball as a trailer in transition, he missed on a floater another time.

He also dribbled in and pulled up to take a mid-range jumper late in this match, and he managed to get fouled to go to the free throw line.  Yu didn’t take enough outside shots in this game, but that he was fouled means that his opponents respect his jump shot enough to consider fouling him when he takes mid-range shots in games.

Yu also showcased satisfactory playmaking skills in this game.  He is a good passer for a player his size, and he also would use his vast size to set good screens on offense.  He would throw solid interior passes, as he can pass out of the post and find teammates on the move to set up scores for them.  He showed that he can make good reads on offense, and he can consistently throw outlet passes to find the open man.  Plus, he has a tall, wide frame that enables him to set solid screens to help his teammates get open jump shots and driving lanes.  However, sometimes he would drop passes that would lead his team to commit turnovers.  On another play when posting up, he took too much time in trying to back down his man, and it led his team to commit a 24-second shot clock violation.

Plus, Yu did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He is a very tall center that has a long reach, and he would actively pursue balls on both ends of the court to get numerous boards for his team.  However, sometimes he would be slow to get the ball, and he would occasionally struggle against length and athleticism, as he would allow opponents to get boards in his area every once in a while.

Defensively, he struggled in this game.  Yu can get defensive stops when he is in position to do so, but he also really struggled to guard shooters or to defend out on the perimeter.  For the positives, he is a solid shot blocker that would use his long reach and timing to swat shots off of drives to prevent opponents from easy chances to score at the rim.  He also was able to jump on a loose ball to help his team get steal, and he also caught a deflected pass to help his team get another.  He would sometimes play angles when defending drives in the paint to cut off penetration, and he also rotated to contest a shot off of a cut to help force a shot clock violation.  When he’s in position to contest shots in the paint, he can use his length, reach, and timing to force misses.

However, Yu is quite immobile, and he would often be the last man down the court on either end of the floor.  He had trouble making quick rotations, and his team often had to play drop coverages when defending their opponents on pick-and-roll plays.  He would often sag way too far off of shooters, and he would allow opponents to score on a barrage of open jumpers, usually from the mid-range.  When rotating on drives, he would also tend to backpedal and not show any resistance, which would lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores.  He tended to struggle to make quick rotations, so opponents could score on quick, off-ball motion plays as a result.

Overall, Harold Yu had an interesting game of sorts in his team’s loss to Shanghai.  He had a good statistical game, as he scored 21 points and had 11 rebounds off the bench for Zhejiang.  On the other hand, he really struggled to defend shooters or to make quick rotations defensively, and he often looked to be the slowest player on the court in this game.  He will really need to improve his foot speed and conditioning, but it’s entirely possible that he may be an old school type of center who may not fit the modern NBA game.  If he can improve his foot speed and conditioning to a passable level to where he could play in an uptempo environment and show that he can defend shooters and be capable of playing a switching, rotation scheme, that would be a start.  He also needs to take more outside shots and extend his shooting range.  Right now, Yu is probably a long shot to be drafted, but if he makes his way to the NBA, he could end up competing for a backup center role, as he may project to be a similar player to Daniel Santiago in the league.

Other Notes:

Shanghai’s 6-4, 2000-born guard, Terri Li from China also played in this game, and he played fairly well in the fourth quarter of this match.  He showed that he can score on strong, aggressive drives to the hoop.  However, he also missed on a rushed, turnaround jumper after dribbling to the post another time.

He was able to show some passing skills, as he made a nice drive and dish to get the ball to an open teammate down low.  However, he will need to improve his ball-handling skills.  On one play, he looked to handle the ball in the backcourt, but he picked up his dribble and got tied up, and then tried to keep on dribbling, but was called for a traveling violation instead.

Li was able to chase down a board to help his team get an offensive rebound.  He also played adequate defense.  He jumped on a loose ball that his teammate poked away to help his team get a steal.  On another play though, he got beat off the dribble to give up the basket.

Overall, Li is an agile, skilled combo guard that played a solid, all-around game in limited minutes.  He even had briefly played for the New Zealand Breakers in the NBL awhile back.  He’s a long shot to be drafted, but his jump shot and ability to get his shot off could enable him to carve out a long and steady playing career in professional basketball.

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