NBA Veteran Kyle Anderson recently made news in the international basketball community by obtaining his Chinese citizenship (but not renouncing his American passport), and joining the national team before the Basketball World Cup that begins August 25th.
For "Li Kaier" (Simplified Chinese), whose grandmother had a Chinese father, the opportunity is deeply personal, and for "Team Dragon", the 6'9" forward brings a skillset and basketball IQ that is a game-changer for a squad looking to advance in a group that includes Serbia, 6th in FIBA's most recent rankings.
In his first appearance during Trentino Cup, Anderson contributed 11 points and 6 rebounds, making his presence felt on the court while shooting 50% from the field.
However, his impact was less statistical and more associated with the style of play and poise that he brings to the Chinese, given his wealth of high-level basketball experience, including as a current member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, his time with the UCLA Bruins, and as a standout for national powerhouse St. Anthony's, which earned him Player of the Year honors in New Jersey.
"Slow Mo" has been successful his entire basketball career because he possesses a natural ability to read the game, has incredible body control, and operates at his own pace. His height allows him to see over most guards, and his ball handling gives him an advantage against bigger, and ironically, slow defenders, while his game has matured every step of his journey:
Alongside Anderson, the Chinese national team features talented players, including former Houston Rocket, 7'1 Zhou Qi, and 6'11 Hu Jinqiul. With Anderson, the team has a player whose style of play fits perfectly.
The Chinese are a slow-paced, intentional, disciplined team with size but without a lights-out scorer who uses every second of the shot clock.
For the World Cup, Group B is tough including their best opponent Serbia with NBA guard Bogdan Bogdanovic (Atlanta Hawks), and Euroleague players Nikola Milutinov (Olympiakos), Marko Guduric (Fenerbahce).
The rest of their group includes Puerto Rico, featuring ex-NBA players Tremont Waters and Gian Clavell; and South Sudan with NBA player Wenyen Gabriel from the Lakers.
Advancing won't be easy, but there is a path forward.
For Anderson, whose basketball journey of 1000 miles is truly one to appreciate, if he can find success with the national team, he has an opportunity to establish himself and connect with an estimated 625 million basketball fans in China.
Not bad for a Jersey cat from St. Pats.