By: Ramzy Kawaja
Omer Asik isn’t Dwight Howard, but he isn’t an after-thought of a signing either. The Houston Rockets had a huge void to fill and a troubling issue to solve, and they did both of those things with one John Hancock.
After the 2011-12 season, the Rockets found themselves 15th in the West in total rebounds per game and only 20th in blocks per. That was with Marcus Camby and Samuel Dalembert patrolling the paint. It is no doubt that an absence of a legit big-man would’ve left these inexperienced youngsters in a world of aches and pains.
The easiest, and laziest way, to measure a man’s worth to his sports team is to calculate his statistics. Although it makes for a convenient spring-board to kick-start a conversation, in no way does it give an accurate portrayal of what is being provided to a team by the player. On paper, Asik delivered 5.3 boards and 1 bpg in a minuscule 14.7 minutes for every contest. On the court, Asik was a vital piece to a system that consistently weighed down opposing offenses to a mere 88.2 ppg, while allowing them to shoot a putrid 42.1 percent.
It is the teachings of defensive guru, Tom Thibodeau, which were absorbed by Asik, that will be the most valuable part of the entire acquisition. Rest assure the experienced, Turkish center will be in the ear of the young Rockets power-forwards during practices, passing down all the information he soaked in during his tenure with the best defensive system in the league.
Game films that highlight Omer’s defensive awareness and lateral movement make the stat sheets irrelevant. Studied closely, you will notice effective pressure on the ball carrier. The man really knows how to accentuate his length to force an unexpected kick-out. This is the best way to defend the pick-and-roll. Asik’s physical nature is going to give the Rockets an interior toughness that they were lacking a season ago.
It is stated that “Defense wins championships.” Championship defense isn’t built in one off season, but it has to start somewhere. Omer Asik was pulled from a contender, that needed his presence, to an up-and-coming squad who have lots to learn and who actually need the big-man more. Limited playing time in Chicago can stunt Asik’s growth. A full-time gig in Houston can develop him into much more than he ever imagined he was capable of.