Some around the league may be surprised by Houston Rockets center Omer Asik's emergence as one of the better centers in the Western Conference, but don't count Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau among them. Asik's former coach went out of his way to praise the 26-year-old recently, noting that he always saw the center's potential:
When you look at what he did throughout his career, the two years in Chicago, each year he got significantly better... He's seven feet, he's got great drive, great character and great intelligence, so those type of players always improve. So it's not surprising; he's getting more minutes so his production's going to be better.
Last year, Asik emerged as the cornerstone of the vaunted "Bench Mob" unit, Chicago's highly-regarded batch of role players. Unfortunately, financial realities led to the Bulls breaking up the unit, which had been one of the league's best defensively with Asik anchoring in the post.
Now playing as a starter in Houston after signing a three-year, $25 million deal last summer, Asik is emerging as one of the most productive centers in the league. Still one of the best defenders in the sport, Asik is adding 10.0 points and 12.3 rebounds per game to his on-court contributions this season.