HOUSTON (NBA/EuroBasket) - Omer Asik is hearing nothing but praise these days.
Turkey has sent some very good players to the NBA in the past like Hedo Turkoglu, the recently-retired
Mehmet Okur as well as Ersan Ilyasova.
Now, Asik looks to be on the way to a solid career in the league himself.
After a couple of seasons with the Chicago Bulls, this past summer the Turkish national team center signed with the Houston Rockets.
Twelve games into the 2012-13 campaign and Asik has shown the Rockets to be a very smart organization because in playing almost 33 minutes per game, the big man is averaging 9.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.
His teammate, Toney Douglas, this week offered an assessment of Asik's worth to the club that most of the other Rockets would probably agree with.
“Omer is a big presence on the floor,” said Douglas, who joined the Rockets from the New York Knicks in the summer.
“I know he has my back, changing shots, blocking shots.
“He’s real good at going straight up and not fouling. That makes it tough to make shots over a big guy.
"That’s something you just can’t teach. It’s a great thing we have him in the middle to protect the paint.”
Someone else who has been impressed by Asik has been Kelvin Sampson, the Rockets assistant who is coaching the team while boss Kevin McHale is away on a leave of absence because of a personal family matter.
“O’s (Asik) 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.”
Asik didn't play for Turkey this summer in the Qualification Round for EuroBasket 2013 but he is expected to return to the squad for the Final Round in Slovenia when his national team attempts to book a place at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.