Thibs On Asik: “He is Like Yao Ming”

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — How much does Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau miss having Omer Asik at his disposal now that the rebounding machine is plying his trade in Houston?

Apparently a whole lot.

What else would lead Thibodeau to compare Asik to Yao Ming, the Rockets former All-Star center whose career was cut short by injury.

Now before you go snatching your own hair out over this one, here’s a little context from Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

“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 [Today] 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.”

… “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.”

Sometimes it’s hard for us to see the resemblance. But the compliment from Thibodeau to his former big man is one that shouldn’t be dismissed as silly.

Asik has a legion of admirers in the coaching community and front offices around the league. He has embraced parts of the job that many of his big men brethren abandoned a long time ago in favor of expanding their shooting range to beyond the 3-point line. He’s a throwback in the way that the true purists of the game love above all else.

Asik has a skill — rebounding — that is just as critical to a team’s dynamic as scoring or facilitating. His role for the Rockets is as clear-cut as James Harden‘s. Asik averages 12.3 rebounds, third best in the league behind Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph and Cavaliers big man Anderson Varejao. The only one of the three who is just as accomplished offensively, as Yao was during his playing days, is Randolph.

To his credit, Asik is averaging a double-double this season (10.8 points to go along with those rebounds). So he is still very much a work in progress. Yao finished his career with averages of 19.1 points and 9.2 rebounds, with highs of 26.6 points and 10.7 rebounds. Asik might never be that kind of scorer, but he’s already a more proficient technician on the glass.

And who knows, maybe some day those comparisons to Yao won’t seem quite as far-fetched as they do (without the full context) right now?


  1. D-mesta says:

    Asik has to grow during this season, the way he will be remembered depends rockets can make it to the playoff or not.

  2. joey boy says:

    BULLS can get AMARE from KNICKS… they dont need him anyway…
    they can sign also KENYON MARTIN and CHRIS ANDERSEN for rebounding purposes..

    • crossoverkid says:

      amare would not be an all-star if it weren’t for steve nash. two bird mans in one team? hmmmm think again

  3. Moonscope says:

    Asik is like Yao in that his hands are made of stone and fumble balls all the time….

  4. DJZ says:

    I think You guys missed what Thibs was getting at. He was not comparing Asik to Yao offensively but in their ability to use their size to their advantage over the opposition. Nowhere in that article did it say that thibs compared Asik to Yao in offensive skill sets. I mean seriously read the article and understand the game of basketball is not just offensive, but has many skill sets. THINK PEOPLE THINK!!!!

  5. JAC says:

    Asik is a beast on the boards. He has the drive to get better, and his free throw percentage shows that he can get better. Give him some more time and he will be one of the best big men in the league. This Rockets team is a great position to develop into something amazingly special.

  6. DYJ says:

    Asik is a good player….but the coach is out of his mind comparing him to Yao. Yao is a franchise changing center….and Asik is……??? Perhaps Tom has a short memory span

  7. Rene says:

    Asik is just a very average Center on a mediocre team. He is no where near Yao Ming in any way, whether that’s talent wise, potential wise, offense wise or defense wise. Yao Ming was the most dominant center in the NBA at a point in time. You can’t, and never will be able to say that about Asik.

    In a league that’s lacking quality big men right now, there are at least 10 that are better than Asik. Dwight Howard, Marc Gasol, Brook Lopez, Al Jefferson, Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah, etc. Let’s not forget the players whose natural position is PF, but are playing at the center position right now. Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Chris Bosh to name a few.

    Of all these, the one that most resembles Yao is Marc Gasol. Soft touch, tough body, can shoot the mid range jumper, can finish around the rim, etc. Asik comes no where close.

  8. Derp says:

    I’m a bulls fan and I know the biggest mistake was letting him even reach restricted free agency. The Great Wall of Turkey will probably end the season in the mix for Most Improved Player.

  9. thesniper321 says:

    asik ‘s potential is to break the backboard with all the bricks he throws 2 feet away from it! Seriously he has no touch, he can’t shoot from mid or long range, he’s nothing special on D, and he has no mobility. PLEASE respect Yao

  10. W/E says:

    lol asik is no where near Yao Ming.Talent and skill wise not even close.

    • JLin says:

      Not right now. But I wouldnt be surprised if they will be compared 3 to 5 years from now. Just watch the houston games and you will see the potential of Asik.

      • W/E says:

        Asik is gunna be 30 in 3 years…Yao Ming had the talent and the skills since he entered the league. I cant beleive that Tibidaeu made that statement,i guess its because Noah is that bad,maybe he realized they should keep Asik and trade Noah instead.