Ten things to know about Omer Asik

by Jim Eichenhofer

1)      His name has often been mispronounced during his four-year NBA career, but the pronunciation is officially listed as O-mair AH-sheek.

2)      Asik has been a second-stringer for three of his four NBA seasons, but he wasn’t exactly backing up average players. In 2010-11 and 2011-12, Asik played behind Chicago’s Joakim Noah, a two-time All-Star and the league’s Defensive Player of the Year. Last season, Asik backed up Houston’s Dwight Howard, an eight-time All-Star and three-time DPOY.

3)      During Asik’s season as a full-time starter, in 2012-13, he averaged a double-double for the Rockets, featuring 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds.

4)      Asik was a second-round pick in 2008, selected 36th overall by Portland, which immediately dealt him to Chicago. He was picked immediately after eventual NBA starters Mario Chalmers (34th) and DeAndre Jordan (35th). Nikola Pekovic was the 31st pick that year, the first selection of what’s proven to be an exceptionally productive second round.

5)      He’s played in a total of 33 NBA playoff games, which means he has the most postseason experience of any member of the Pelicans. The next-highest total is Ryan Anderson’s 20 playoff appearances. As a rookie, Asik played in the Eastern Conference finals for Chicago.

6)      Yahoo! Sports on Asik last season, when the center was mentioned in numerous trade rumors: “He can turn a team’s defense around in an instant.”

7)      Asik played professionally for five seasons in his home country of Turkey before coming to the NBA in 2010 at age 24.

8)      When he debuted in the NBA in 2010-11, bombastic Bulls TV analyst Stacey King nicknamed him “Asik and Destroy,” among other colorful monikers.

9)      According to Basketball-Reference.com, Asik is one of only six Turkish-born players ever to play in the NBA. Three of them played in the league last season: Asik, Ersan Ilyasova and Hedo Turkoglu.

10)   He’s a member of the Turkish national team that will compete in the FIBA World Cup later this summer. Turkey will play against USA Basketball in Spain on Aug. 31.