Ah, Lady Luck: she’s a fickle one, she is.
Boston Celtics fans were hoping Lady Luck would bestow the Luck of the Irish on the Celtics at the NBA Draft Lottery, giving the Cs a chance to draft a potential franchise player such as Joel Embiid. Sadly, that did not happen – but never fail. I have been arguing that Boston should look to trade and free agency in an attempt to fill its need at the center position, anyway, and today I turn my attention on a player that the Celtics have already tried to bring to Titletown:
Omer Asik, C, Houston Rockets
At one point this season, it appeared as if a trade sending Asik to the Celtics was a done deal. Obviously, reports claiming such a done deal were premature, but there is no doubt that Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge was highly interested in Asik, and almost certainly still is following a season in which Boston averaged only 4.2 blocks per game (23rd in the NBA) and allowed opponents to shoot .46.5% from the field, also good for 23rd in the league. The Celtics claim they need to land a rim protector – will Asik fit the bill?
Here is what Brett David Roberts, editor for FanSided’s Space City Scoop site, had to say:
Omer Asik made big strides two seasons ago in his first season as a full-time starter. He’d shown considerable promise off the Bulls’ bench playing behind Joakim Noah, but no one really knew if he could do it as a first unit player.
Could he avoid consistent foul trouble? Did he have any offensive game?
These questions would be answered as Asik’s value continually rose in a strong 2012-13 campaign. He focused better around the basket and took better shots near the rim. Asik’s performance exceeded the expectations of almost everyone; perhaps except Rockets GM Daryl Morey.
The Turkish big man averaged 10.1 points per game and 11.7 rebounds per game in 2012-13. His role declined with the acquisition of Dwight Howard, but he played a key role in helping contain LaMarcus Aldridge in games 3 & 4 of 2014 playoffs.
Asik still flips the ball up at the hoop aimlessly from time to time, but Asik has made a clear effort to turn a lot of missed layups into made dunks. He has also considerably improved his hands, something that didn’t seem entirely possible given his rock-like palms in his time in Chicago. Asik still doesn’t catch every bullet to fly through traffic, but he can be relied upon to catch and finish, and that’s enough to get a consistent eight to 10 points per-36 minutes.
Ultimately, Asik is defensively a starting center and offensively a borderline rotation player. But not every team requires the 5-spot to generate offense, and there certainly aren’t many plays run for Asik on the block.
He does, however, operate very well in the pick and roll and he takes a lot of initiative in initiating the pick and roll with James Harden, Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley. Asik’s ultimate offensive upside may be no greater than 13 or 14 points per game, but he can anchor the middle. And he boards with the best in the league. Asik averaged over 14 rebounds per-36 minutes again in 2013-14.
Daryl Morey has been asking a lot for Asik’s services, but as time goes on, that selling price will have to be lower and lower. In Houston, Asik is a luxury coming off the bench behind Dwight Howard, and the Rockets are overpaying for it right now.
While it’s nice to hear that Asik is a solid option on the pick and roll – visions of Rajon Rondo passing to the big man dancing in your head yet? – it is his defensive prowess that puts him on the top of my Big Man Board. The Boston Celtics are not in need of a center who can score 20+ points a night, but they certainly could use Asik’s shot blocking (1.7 per 36 minutes ) and rebounding ability (13.3 per 36 minutes) in the middle of the floor. With Boston having no shot at bringing in a truly elite center such as Dwight Howard, it would appear as if Asik is currently the Celtics’ best option when it comes to strengthening its roster at the center position.
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