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Tom Thibodeau says Omer Asik a lot like Yao Ming

Nov 21, 2012, 11:38 AM EST

Omer Asik AP

No, it’s not that Omer Asik is going to get voted in as an All-Star starter whether he deserves it or not.

But Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau — who was an assistant with the Rockets and worked with Asik when he was on the Bulls last season — thinks that Asik and Yao Ming are a lot alike. That’s what he told the Houston Chronicle (hat tip to the NBA’s Hang Time Blog). It seems odd because Yao (when healthy) was a far more polished offensive player, a guy who had great post moves plus a midrange jumper you had to respect. Asik… let’s be kind and say he’s not quite there yet. Or close.

But Thibs thinks the comparisons work on a more important level.

“In a lot of ways,” Thibodeau said, “he is like Yao Ming…

“Very, very bright,” Thibodeau said of his former big men. “(Asik) has size, intelligence, great feet, drive and a willingness play for the team. He reacts quickly, anticipates, and he’s relentless. He’s a multiple effort guy. He’s a 7-footer, smart, driven. He will get better.”

Asik is a defense first guy and anchors the Rockets on that end of the floor (where they are playing right about the league average now, but trust me it would be a whole lot worse without Asik).

But Thibs meant this as a compliment to Asik’s mental game and work ethic — two things Yao had in abundance. (If you don’t think he worked insanely hard during all those comebacks to get where he did you weren’t watching.) So we’ll take it that way. And not try to mention how far apart Asik actually is from Yao skill-wise.

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