Tom Thibodeau Compares Omer Asik to Yao Ming

by November 21, 2012

Here’s Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau buttering up his former big man Omer Asik prior to tonight’s Bulls/Rockets tilt in Houston. Per the Chronicle: “Omer Asik was Thibodeau’s kind of defensive bulkhead, which is praise enough given the Chicago coach’s much-celebrated devotion to defense. But after two seasons with Asik as his backup center with the Bulls, Thibodeau looked past his performance and potential to the qualities that make both possible. ‘In a lot of ways,’ Thibodeau said, ‘he is like Yao Ming.’ In a lot of ways, he is quite different. Yao, who worked extensively with Thibodeau with the Rockets and in the offseasons in China, was blessed with an uncanny shooting touch and well-honed offensive moves. Asik is the backbone of the Rockets’ defense, largely on the strength of quick feet for a 7-footer, but has a relative lack of offensive skills. Yet a day before Asik was set to face the Bulls for the first time Wednesday at Toyota Center, Thibodeau, who spent four seasons as a Rockets assistant, saw what Asik and Yao had in common. […] ‘Very, very bright,’ Thibodeau said of his former big men. ‘(Asik) has size, intelligence, great feet, drive and a willingness play for the team. He reacts quickly, anticipates, and he’s relentless. He’s a multiple effort guy. He’s a 7-footer, smart, driven. He will get better.’ Asik became the Rockets’ starting center, their first long-term successor to Yao, when the Bulls did not match a heavily back-loaded three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet. He immediately became the focal point of the Rockets’ defense, strong at the rim and in pick-and-roll coverages, but also a project to develop. ‘O’s the best defensive center I’ve been around since I’ve been in the NBA,’ Rockets acting head coach Kelvin Sampson said. ‘When Andrew Bogut was healthy, he was special, too, but I would put Big O in his class, and that’s a big compliment to Big O because I thought Bogut was a great defensive center.'”