He's played sparingly, he's been in trade talks and he has been injured for quite some time, but now, he is close to making his way back.
According to Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle, Asik went through shootaround with the Rockets before their Wednesday night matchup with the Phoenix Suns. He has also been participating in some of the team's five-on-zero drills and walk-throughs, and teammates are very happy that his return seems imminent.
"We definitely miss him on the court," said James Harden. "He is such a great talent. He did so many great things for us last year. He is one of the best big men in the NBA. We are grateful to have both him and Dwight (Howard) on the same team."
While Harden may have been a bit generous in saying that Asik is one of the league's best bigs, there is absolutely no question that the 7-footer has extraordinary value to this Houston ballclub.
Let's examine how.
One thing just about anyone who follows the NBA knows about Asik is that he is a sound defender.
When you look at Asik, you probably won't think of him as someone who moves all that well laterally. After all, the man is 7'0" tall and weighs 255 pounds, and unless we're talking about Kevin Garnett or Tim Duncan, guys who are that big generally aren't the quickest.
Well, that would be an unfair assessment of Asik. Not only would it be unfair, but it would be flat-out wrong.
Part of what makes the Turk so effective on the defensive end of the floor is his quick feet and his ability to stay with more agile players out on the perimeter.
This makes Asik very solid in pick-and-roll defense, as his mobility allows him to recover in time to defend rolls.
In addition, Asik is an awesome post defender, not only due to his large size, but because he has good anticipation and keeps his feet on the floor.
All of this is on display in the video below:
There is no way around it. Asik is a very good defender, and his splits also support that.
This season, in the 17 games that Asik has played, the Rockets have posted a 98.6 defensive rating with him on the floor. When he is on the bench, that number jumps to 106.
In 2012-13, Asik's first year with the Rockets, Houston registered a 110 defensive rating when he was off the court. When he was in the game, that number dipped to 104.2.
The Rockets are already the best rebounding team in the league, averaging 55.4 boards per game coming into Wednesday night (Feb. 5). Throw Asik into the mix, and that number will improve even more.
To put it plainly, Asik is a monster on the glass. The man owns a career total-rebound percentage of 20.7 percent and has averaged 13.1 rebounds per 36 minutes throughout his four years in the league. He even led the league in total rebounds during the 2012-13 campaign, and that was for someone who was only playing 30 minutes a contest.
In 2013-14, Asik is averaging 6.8 boards in just 18.3 minutes. That comes out to 13.3 rebounds over 36 minutes.
He cleans the glass like a bristlenose pleco devours algae off the glass of aquariums.
On a Houston squad that already dominates the boards, Asik's presence would be that much more devastating.
Support for Dwight Howard
Howard is a very good player, but contrary to what his nickname may lead you to believe, he is not Superman. He needs help up front.
Fortunately for Dwight, Terrence Jones has provided some assistance, but there is very little big-man depth behind Howard.
Donatas Motiejunas has gotten some burn during Asik's absence, but he is still very raw, and he is not really a traditional big. Motiejunas isn't someone who is going to dominate the glass or ferociously protect the rim. He is a guy who is going to stretch the floor (or at least try to) and get out and run in transition.
That's nice and all, but the Rockets have enough guys who are going to do that. They need someone who can provide some beef up front when Howard is in foul trouble or simply needs a rest.
Asik is the man who can fill that role.
With Dwight on the pine, Asik can step in and spell him admirably on the defensive end and on the boards.
Opposing teams would then find very little relief in getting Howard to rack up personal fouls. Doing so would not bring Motiejunas or Greg Smith to the table. It would bring a sometimes-dominant force in Omer Asik, a very large man who can absolutely soften the blow of any foul trouble or fatigue that besets Howard.
"Getting him back is huge," said Chandler Parsons of Asik. "He can be one of the better centers in the league and having the luxury of having him and Dwight would give us another body, another 6 fouls. His size and length bring a lot to this team. He will play a lot of minutes so we are hoping to get him back as soon as possible.”
That would certainly be scary for opponents.
Note to general manager Daryl Morey: Do not trade this man. He can be a difference-maker over the course of a seven-game playoff series.
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