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Omer Asik Tough
When the Bulls added Omer Asik to their roster for the 2010-2011 season, they added two things that were lacking—height and defense. The 7'0" center who had spent his last five years in the Turkish League (where he was a two-time all-star) had developed a reputation as a defensive shot blocker and rebounder. What was unknown was if he could produce offensively and whether his lanky frame could hold up in the physical rigors of the NBA.
From the start, it was obvious that defense would not be an issue for Asik. Despite his thin build, Omer proved to be quite adept at blocking shots and pulling down rebounds. Over the course of the season, Asik averaged 0.7 BPG, 0.2 SPG and 3.8 RPG in 12.1 MPG.
These numbers may not appear impressive but averaged across 48 minutes, that would be 2.8 BPG, 0.8 SPG, and 14.8 RPG which are phenomenal numbers for a rookie. As Joakim Noah's backup, Omer's minutes were limited, but he may see more minutes now with a season under his belt. More minutes for Asik may even help Noah who has struggled with injuries over the course of his career.
Offensively, Asik has room to improve—especially in the realm of free throw shooting. Last season, Asik averaged 2.8 PPG and 0.4 APG while shooting a .553 FG% and a .503 FT%. To be a successful NBA center, Asik will need to improve his free throw shooting and will need to develop some post moves with his back to the basket. The one bright spot in Asik's offense was that he averaged 1.4 offensive rebounds per game, and a lot of those rebounds turned into impressive put-back dunks.
Asik was able to play in all 82 regular season games last season but ended the postseason a game early with a fractured fibula in his left foot. In addition to the fibula injury, Asik has also dealt with a broken collar bone and a torn ACL during his recent basketball career. Due to his history of injuries, there are some who question whether he will be a healthy enough player to truly be effective in the NBA.
Asik also participated in the EuroBasket tournament this summer, and although Turkey failed to qualify for the Olympics, Asik stood out as a defensive powerhouse. Asik failed to show any significant improvement on offense, but he pulled down his fair share of rebounds and blocked plenty of shots. Asik's game didn't seem to have changed since the Eastern Conference finals, but he did look to be in good shape which is important after suffering the injury to his fibula.
Asik was associated with trade rumors throughout last season and continues to be included in rumors over the course of the offseason—he is probably the most likely member of the Bulls' frontcourt to be traded this season.
Asik showed a lot of improvement last season and was excellent defensively, even against smaller and quicker players. Additionally, Asik was instantly liked by fans and commentators due to his humility and hard work; Asik received a couple of notable nicknames from Stacey King who referred to him as "The Turkish Hammer" and "Asik and Destroy." The Bulls' management seemed impressed by his hard work and improvement, but that may not be enough for them to not trade him.
Asik is a liability from the free throw line and may not show enough potential offensively to be retained by the Bulls. Additionally, his history of injuries may make the Bulls' management desire to trade him before he has a serious injury that decreases his value. For now, with a salary of just over $4 million in the next two years, Asik is a great deal for the defensive ability he possesses.