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Utah Jazz big man Ersan Ilyasova (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Quin Snyder Praises Jazz Ilyasova Led Lineups

Utah Jazz big man Ersan Ilyasova (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY,  Utah – The Utah Jazz had a clear approach to their frontcourt identity this season — make sure there’s a rim rolling big man on the floor at all times. After Saturday’s performance against the Los Angeles Lakers, Ersan Ilyasova might be softening that stance.

With high-priced backup big man Derrick Favors missing games with knee soreness and first-round draft pick Udoka Azubuike sidelined with a serious ankle injury, the Jazz have had to experiment with new looks at the backup five.

The top option for the third-string center had been Juwan Morgan to begin the year. Morgan is in his second season in the NBA and had strong moments for the Jazz last year playing both frontcourt positions, including a critical role in games two, three, and four of the team’s first-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets.

However, in early March, the Jazz went a different direction when signing Ilyasova who saw his first major minutes with the team in Saturday’s loss to the Lakers.

While the Jazz preseason plan may have been to keep a rim rolling big on the court at all times, it wasn’t difficult to see the value a player like Ilyasova can bring to the court.  The Turkish veteran knocked down six threes in the loss to the Lakers, including five of the team’s eight first quarter threes.

Before the Jazz faced the Lakers on Monday night, Jazz coach Quin Snyder explained how else Ilyasova impacted the game.

“With additional spacing, it does open up the floor opens up opportunities for our premier guys to roll up to the basket,” Snyder said.

Thanks to the extra shooting on the floor, the Jazz first seven shots inside the three-point arch were within six feet of the hoop.

Though Ilyasova won’t play in the Jazz second game against the Lakers, Snyder seemed happy with how is team performed with the veteran floor spacer on the court.

“I thought we did a pretty good job of adjusting to that the other night,” Snyder said. “Certainly when Ersan making shots the way it was that that makes it makes it easier.”

Favors will return to action for the Jazz, and when healthy, should be expected to be the top reserve behind Gobert. But, with Ilyasova’s unique skillset among Jazz centers, don’t be surprised to see his shooting prowess tested again before the playoffs.

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