What Ersan Ilyasova Offers Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – On Wednesday, the Utah Jazz signed veteran forward Ersan Ilyasova, bringing the roster up to the league minimum 14 players.
Ilyasova, a 12-year veteran signed with the Jazz through the remainder of the season, making Utah his eighth home during his well-traveled NBA career.
At 33-years-old and in the twilight of his career, what can Ilyasova offer the Jazz over the final 37 games of the regular season?
Ilyasova’s Career Before The Jazz
Ilyasova began his career with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2006, a year after getting drafted with the 36th pick in the second round of the NBA draft. After spending a season in the developmental league, Ilyasova spent one season with the Bucks before returning to Europe to play in Spain for two seasons before re-signing with Milwaukee.
After stops in Detroit, Orlando, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, and Atlanta, Ilyasova returned to Milwaukee where he played two seasons before being waived last November.
The forward has started in 423 of his 808 career games, though he hasn’t been a regular started since 2017-18 during a short stint with the Hawks.
Ilyasova has career averages of 10.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.1 assists while shooting 44 percent from the floor and 36 percent from the three-point line.
What Ilyasova Offers Jazz
Ilyasova’s primary role as an NBA player has been as a floor-spacing forward who is a strong rebounder for his size but offers little in the way of defense or playmaking.
The forward was a mainstay through the first half of the 2019-20 season with Milwaukee but saw his role reduced dramatically after the Bucks signed veteran forward Marvin Williams midway through the year.
By season’s end, Ilyasova was used solely in garbage-time minutes and played a total of 23 minutes in Milwaukee’s 10 playoff games.
However, while he was in the rotation, Ilyasova continued to provide the Bucks with the same skills that he’s built his reputation on over the decade-plus NBA career.
Though the Turkish forward’s career 36 percent three-point shooting percentage would rank 10th on the Jazz current roster, he’s a surprisingly good rebounder for his size.
Ilyasova’s 21.2 defensive rebounding rate would currently rank third on the Jazz behind only Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, and far surpassing Royce O’Neale’s 15.5 percentage rate.
What Ilyasova Doesn’t Offer The Jazz
As mentioned, though Ilyasova is an adequate shooter and strong rebounder for his role, he doesn’t provide the Jazz with additional defense or playmaking.
The forward had the second-worst defensive rating for the Bucks last season and has never been particularly agile laterally defending other big men.
Though he’s famous for his willingness to draw charges, with the Jazz funneling style of defense designed to push driving players towards Gobert in the paint, Ilyasava’s help-side sacrifice likely won’t be as prevalent in Utah as it has been elsewhere during his career.
Furthermore, Ilyasova is a bit of a ball-stopper whose 6.5 percent assist percentage would rank second-worst on the Jazz ahead of only Gobert at 6.2 percent. Though he trails Georges Niang by just three-tenths of a percent in assist rate, Ilyasova’s lower three-point shooting percentage will make it difficult for him to overtake the fifth-year veteran in the Jazz rotation.
Ultimately, Ilyasova is cut from a similar cloth to both Bojan Bogdanovic and Georges Niang, giving the Jazz strong veteran depth as a plug and play forward throughout the remainder of the season.
However, at this point in his career, and as a result of his mostly redundant skillset, it’s unlikely that he’ll overtake anyone in the Jazz rotation unless there is an injury, or further roster moves are made.
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