The Reason You Pay Asik

Published: April 4, 2015

Pay that man. Pay that man his money.

– Teddy KGB

Fans who love offense can’t wrap their minds around the fact that Omer Asik will likely get a multi-year contract averaging at least $10 million per season this summer. He is clumsy around the basket, dropping the ball occasionally and missing point-blank looks. He doesn’t jump through the roof and he doesn’t even block that many shots for a seven-foot center. So, what exactly does he do? And why is Dell Demps dying to pay him?

Well, look no further than his play against Demarcus Cousins this season. Yes, that Demarcus Cousins who put up 39 and 20 against the Pelicans last week and 24-20-13 last night. Those are the raw numbers, and they say that Cousins dominated Asik and the Pelicans. But reaching that conclusion would be false. Cousins went 3-12 against Asik last night, and 6-10 against everyone else. Asik was the primary reason that the Pelicans won both games against the Kings, and it is because he contained Cousins, despite what the raw numbers say.

If you look a little closer, you will see that Asik made Cousins work incredibly hard to put up those numbers and forced him to use a lot of possessions to put up those stats. He also kept him out of the paint, which kept him off the offensive glass (zero offensive rebounds last night) and it kept the Pelicans out of foul trouble. In fact, the difference when Asik is on the court as opposed to off in this area is astounding. When Asik is off the court, 56% of Cousins shot attempts come inside the restricted area against the Pelicans. When he is on? Just 36%. Instead, Cousins tends to take mid-range jumpers, as 50% of his shot attempts come from mid-range when Asik is on the court. Just 17% when he is off.

As you might guess, Cousins is far more efficient when Asik is off the court, as he shoots 58.7% when Asik is off the court. Just 44.2% when he is on. Look at those numbers again. Basically, Cousins is Shaq when Asik is off the court and has the efficiency of an average guard when Asik is on the court. When Asik is off the court, Cousins averages 29.9 points per 36 minutes on just 20 shots. When he is on, Cousins takes those same 20 shots per 36 minutes, but averages just 23.2 points. That is a 6.7 point difference over the course of 36 minutes. An 8.9 point difference over 48 minutes. 8.9 points over 48 minutes is the difference between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Sacramento Kings this season. So, basically, the Kings play like a title contender when Cousins is on and Asik is off, and they play like, well…… the Sacramento Kings when Asik is on the court with Cousins.

If a guy made a 9 point difference on the offensive end, he would be in the running for MVP. But when he does it on the defensive end and doesn’t excite people on the offensive end, he is an afterthought. But the truth is that impact is impact, regardless of where it occurs or how it occurs. And the impact with Asik is major, not just against Cousins, but in general. He steadies the defense and makes a major difference on the offensive boards. He will never be fun to watch, but he will be effective, and he will make the night tough for his opponent night in and night out.

Just ask Demarcus Cousins.



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