INDIANAPOLIS -- Is there much of a language barrier with Omer Asik?
It's a question I've been asked numerous times over the year and one that has a clear-cut answer at this point in the season.
With his teammates and coaches, there isn't much of a language barrier at all. Asik knows what they're saying and can communicate with them just fine. As for the media, that's a different story. It's not that Asik doesn't understand what we're saying, it's just that he chooses not to listen to most of it, good or bad. After his 11-point, 16-rebound performance against the New Jersey Nets on Thursday night, Asik declined interview requests from the Chicago media because the last time we spoke to him as a group after his big game in Orlando, he followed that up with a poor performance against the Heat.
What's Turkish for superstitious?
"It's probably more challenging for you guys," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said with a laugh of the language barrier. "With us, he's been fine. His teammates understand him, he understands us. Except, sometimes with criticism he doesn't understand. But everything else he understands."
No matter how much he understands, what's clear is that the Bulls love Asik. He work ethic is easy to understand in any language.
"He's been great; you can't say enough about him," Thibodeau said. "He's serious, he's a diligent worker, very bright. And now this is his second or third time through against some of these teams, and he keeps learning, getting better, and more confident. But he's come in with a defensive mindset from the start, and he has great instincts."
Both Asik and Thibodeau have noted recently that the hope is that with a little more work, the 24-year-old's offensive game will get better. The veteran coach believes that progression will come.
"Sometimes he's probably a little too fast," Thibodeau said of Asik's offensive moves in the post. "But I think you're starting to see his passing right now, and he's been a great screener, a great offensive rebounder. Very smart. He helps you execute. He's comfortable away from the basket passing the ball. He sees things, he reads how plays are being defended. So I think it's just a matter of time before he gets a lot more confident [with his] back to the basket. He's great on pick and rolls rolling to the basket. Right now in his post game, he has to slow down just a little bit."
Thibodeau and the rest of his coaches will find a way to get the message across. The key is that Asik will be able to understand it all when they do.