Friday, July 16, 2010

The Bulls Sign Omer Asik at Cut-Rate Price

The Spurs seem to be getting plenty of accolades for their below-market signing of Tiago Splitter. No doubt that was one of the best bargains of the summer and should be applauded.

But the Bulls need more credit for their acquisition of a quality Euro big at a cheap rate. The Bulls pulled off one of the shrewder moves of summer by enticing Turkish center Omer Asik to accept a 3-year deal totaling $4 million.

Earlier in the week we highlighted the Knicks' signing of Timofey Mozgov to 3-year deal for roughly $10 mil. Asik and Mozgov are quite similar and are closely matched talent-wise at this point.

Like Mozgov, Asik is a 24 year-old, athletic 7-footer known for rebounding and defense. Both have an offensive arsenal based mostly on dunks and lay-ins. Asik actually might be a little better than Mozgov because of a better feel for the game, being less foul-prone and a better defensive acumen.

Not saying the deal for Mozgov is bad, just pointing out how the Bulls got Asik at a bargain-basement price. Granted, Mozgov had more leverage being a free agent while Asik's options were limited.

Still, Asik was worth at least twice as much as he got. Also taking into account Andris Biedrins makes $9 mil/yr and Marcin Gortat makes $6 mil, getting Asik at around $1.3 per year is an incredible value.

The one hesitation with signing Asik is his recent struggles to stay healthy. His 2009-10 season was cut short in mid-December because of a broken collarbone and his previous club season was derailed by a knee injury.

The collarbone is not a concern but the torn-up knee from a few years ago might be a reason the Bulls were reluctant to offer more money. I wouldn't be too concerned since he was moving well at Eurobasket and during the first few months of this season.

Here's what we had to say about Omer's Eurobasket play last September:
    The young center had a very solid showing this summer, averaging nearly 13 ppg. His 67% FG pct. led the tourney. Was Turkey's second leading scorer behind Ilyasova. Did most of his damage rolling to the rim or moving to open spots. Good finishing ability and showed nice body control to re-adjust for lay-ins on the move. Very mobile 7-footer who's known as a shot-blocker, but didn't block many shots in Poland. At this point, does not show much in the way of refined post skills. Did a good job on the offensive glass. Major liability at the free throw line--15 for 47 for Euro '09. Turkey had to pull him late in the 4th and all of OT in their quarterfinal loss vs. Greece. His shooting form needs more than just tweaking. Will play for Turkish power, Fenerbahce Ulker, this season.
    (Eurobasket '09 stats--12.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg (2.4 off), 67% FG)

In seven Euroleague games, Omer averaged 9 ppg, 6 rpg (2 off), 1.4 bpg and 66% from the floor in 22 mins per game (similar numbers in nine Turkish League games). Still an adventure when he goes to free throw line: 33-for-82 (40%) in his truncated '09-'10 season.

After getting to view most of Asik games this season, I came away more impressed with his defense play. Asik is the all-around package on defense, not just a shot-blocker. Splitter might have been the only finer defensive center in Europe.

Excellent post defender. Like how he uses his chest and lower body to defend on the block. Moves feet very well. Stout in pick/roll situations and recovers well to consistently contest.

Deceptive defensively--initially seems languid (but not bittersweet) at the start of defensive possessions but reacts very quickly. The Bulls should not lose much defensively when they sub Asik in for Noah.

As mentioned above, Omer's a capable finisher on pick/rolls, cuts and transition plays. Terrific in transition--has a knack of running straight to the front of the rim. Very smart finding open space and creating angles for the ball-handler to find him on cuts.

At this point, his post game is rather limited. Shows glimpses of decent footwork here & there. Not bad using drop-steps, particularly on the left block. Occasionally will throw an up/under move into the mix. When he tries to make moves to middle things usually turn ugly. Bulls fans don't want him attempting jumpers and Asik's smart enough to rarely take any.

If Biedrins and Gortat can carve a niche as viable centers in the NBA, so can Asik. Think Asik is comparable to Biedrins. Both Euros are 24 year-old, 6-11 mobile bigs. Both shoot a high pct. and have no post game or face-up game. Both are excellent rebounders and shot-blockers. And both run the floor well and are bad free throw shooters. Biedrins is the better passer and a better FT shooter (relative to Asik). Biedrins is slightly more athletic but think Asik is a better overall defender than Bierdins.

The addition of Asik next to Noah gives the Bulls one of the top defensive tandems at the 5-spot in the league. The big Turk should be able to give the Bulls 15 quality mins. a game right away. Coach Thib should love what Asik brings to the table.


At 9:01 AM, Blogger Josh said...

He's a worse free throw shooter than the guy who shot .160 this year? Yeesh :)

At 9:08 AM, Anonymous rind said...

Excellent analysis. As someone who regularly watches Asik since 2006, I don't have anything to add. If he can stay healthy (a big if), he will really surprise the Bulls fans next season a la Ilyasova who surprised a lot of Bucks fans last season.

At 5:33 PM, Blogger foilfence said...

Is Asik really that much better than Mozgov?

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