It’s 2024 and the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association is in full swing with just four more weeks of regular season action left. Our previous updates have highlighted the rising number of WNBA players participating in this booming market. But today, we will focus on two players in different stages of their careers: Jonquel Jones and Han Xu of the New York Liberty.
JJ’s star shines in the East
The birthday girl is ballin’! @jus242 is doing BIG #’s in China with averages of 22.6 PPG, 13.1 RPG, & 4.0 APG in the month of December. Shoutout to our #LibsAbroad Player of the Month! ✈️ pic.twitter.com/H9FD0jXfTG— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) January 5, 2024
You know her name. You know her game. Jones is a basketball legend; that’s true here in the West and out in the East. In December, she averaged 22.6 points, 13.1 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game for Inner Mongolia.
Jones is well-loved in the States, but that appreciation for her game in China has gone to another level. I mean, look at this birthday celebration for her:
Happy Birthday JJ— Chinese Women's Hoop Show (@YifengLi) January 5, 2024
(guess who she gave the first slice of cake ) pic.twitter.com/Ks3Dj8dFNW
Before her birthday, the team also threw her a surprise Christmas party, which Jones posted on Instagram. “Shoutout to everyone involved,” Jones said on her Instagram post. “They made ah real one shed ah tear man! So much love for these ladies and this organization!”
Seems like the only thing better than Jones’ play is the love her team and fans are giving her. For the WNBA fans, this should result in Jones entering the season in peak condition and form. She’s gotten professional reps and continues to demonstrate why she’s one of the best bigs in the game, all while appearing to enjoy her time in China.
Moment of truth for Han Xu
Xu’s talent is undeniable. Given injuries and the difficulty of transitioning to the WNBA, we haven’t seen it with the Liberty. Last season, she averaged just 1.5 points and 0.9 rebounds in her appearances. Healthy and contributing for Sichuan, Xu is coming into her own.
Han Xu so far:— Chinese Women's Hoop Show (@YifengLi) January 4, 2024
1.7 BLK (league leading)
Her team Sichuan (24-2) stands in second place only behind Inner Mongolia (26-1) led by Jonquel Jones.
Top blocks from Han Xu pic.twitter.com/FOS5p8Jzu1
The leader for a team vying for a title, she’s regularly posting double-digit points and, more importantly, she’s healthy. For Liberty fans (or fans of a team that might sign her in free agency), this means Xu is potentially heading into 2024 the healthiest she’s been in some time, and could be a player New York, or another team, can build with.
The Liberty fell short of their goals to win it all in 2023, but not by much, losing in the Finals to the Las Vegas Aces. If Jones is ready and Xu can take a step forward, they will have as good a chance as any team to beat the back-to-back champs and bring the title to New York in 2024. If that happens, we could look back at their time in China as the start of that title run.