So far, the second decade of the 21st century belongs to the Beijing Ducks: three championships in four years, and we aren’t tired of that feeling of winning yet. But will Beijing continue to reign supreme?

Here are the burning questions about the team's prospects for next year:

Will Stephon Marbury return?
The Ducks' Stephon Marbury still has one year remaining on his current contract, which means it is almost certain for him to come back next season. During our interview in February he told us that he plans to keep playing for Beijing for another two or three years. Personally, I’d expect Marbury to play for two more years and then retire as a player on his 40th birthday. He has also stated that he'd like to remain with the CBA, possibly as a coach, after his playing days are over. Coming into his 20th year since being drafted into the NBA back in 1996, Marbury is neck and neck with Kobe Bryant as the last man standing for the legendary 1996 NBA Draft Class, one of the best draft classes ever.

Will Marbury remain a powerhouse?
Statistics-wise, this past season showed a player in decline. He averaged 16.3 points per game in the regular season, his lowest in six CBA seasons, and down from 28.3 points per game just two years ago. He even had two regular season games in which he didn't score a single basket. However, his statistics picked up dramatically in the playoffs and especially during the finals, where he averaged 29.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 2 steals, and won the Finals MVP.

Pundits believe that Marbury was simply saving energy for the playoffs during the regular seasons, but this argument sounds dubious. Compared to an 82-game NBA season which can stretch more than seven months, a CBA season consists of 30 regular season games and about a dozen additional playoff games. I see no reason why someone in Marbury's conditioning restrict effort across so few games. Instead, I’d buy into the argument that Marbury rose to the occasion in the playoffs but has indeed been showing signs of slowing down.

What is Marbury busy doing now?
He and his teammates met Beijing mayor Wang Anshun yesterday afternoon, and were praised by the mayor for “being the light of the city." Marbury delivered remarks during the event, and was the only player in the front row of the official portrait with the mayor. On Weibo he discussed a possible challenge against his hometown New York Knicks. “I would love to challenge the Knicks to a game where we play in the finals in Beijing,” he said.  “I’m not afraid to play against any NBA team.”

Will we see Ducks vs. Knicks?
Though I’d die for such a game, but it probably won’t happen, and what’s even sadder is that Beijing is not even on the calendar of the 2015 NBA Global Games. It was announced by the NBA last week that the 2015 NBA China Games will be played in Shenzhen and in Shanghai, featuring the Charlotte Hornets and the LA Clippers. Rather than Beijing, undoubtedly the best basketball city in China with an ongoing Duck Dynasty, the geniuses at the NBA headquarters in Manhattan opted for godforsaken Shenzhen, a city that doesn’t even have a basketball team, and Shanghai, home of the CBA’s tenured bottom-dwelling team the Sharks.

Who will defend the Duck Dynasty if Marbury leaves?
We have good reasons to believe that the Duck Dynasty won’t fall even after Marbury retires. As he said after the game, the real MVP of the winning game of the finals was 22-year-old 6'8" forward Zhai Xiaochuan, who led the Ducks that night with 27 points. Sun Yue is another cornerstone of the team the 6”9’ former LA Laker nicknamed "the Monkey King" is the best defensive player for the Ducks and perhaps the best in China.

The Ducks' other foreign import, Randolph Morris, just finished his contract with the ducks, but that doesn't mean he won't be back. Most CBA teams sign one-year contracts with foreign players, and Morris had a good showing with the Ducks.

Zhai, Sun, and most of the team's other Chinese players are under contract, so we have good reason to expect the Ducks to return next season with their core roster largely intact.

What else is happening with the CBA?
Lester Hudson, the two-time CBA MVP who played against the Ducks in both the 2014 and 2015 CBA Finals (with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers and the Liaoning Hunters), was just signed by the LA Clippers on a 10-day contract to replace the injured Nate Robinson, it was announced on Sunday.

This is not the first time for Hudson to join a NBA team right after a CBA season. In 2012, he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers after playing his CBA season for the Qingdao Eagles, and did much better than expected, averaging 12.7 points from the bench, scoring a high of 26 point against the Nets.

So far it’s hard to say whether Hudson’s homecoming is a long haul or not. He told the Peninsula Morning Post, a local newspaper in Liaoning, “I’ve been playing in the CBA for five years, and Liaoning is so far the best team for me. I fit here perfectly and I have already regarded Liaoning as my home. I told my agent that I want to stay here, which is not only good for my career but also for my family.”

However, I suspect that this is merely a sugarcoated answer for the local media. On the same day Beijing Youth Daily reports that an anonymous friend of Hudson revealed that the NBA is still Hudson’s first choice if, that is, he can secure a long-term contract and steady playing times.

More stories by this author here.

Email: patrickli@thebeijinger.com
WeChat: xinwurenli
Weibo: @lucky__strike

Image: Instagram


Visit the original source and full text: the Beijinger Blog