In making his return to the Milwaukee Bucks this offseason, it’s clear what kind of role and responsibilities Ersan Ilyasova will have to supply around the team’s nucleus. The question is can he maintain his shooting efficiency from deep?
Of all the moves the Milwaukee Bucks made this offseason, the signing and return of Ersan Ilyasova certainly stands as the most polarizing in the eyes of fans and pundits around the league.
A mixture of the timing, that being as soon as this year’s free agency period opened up, and the value of the deal he signed ($21 million over three years, though his salary for the third season is non-guaranteed) created some questions over the Bucks’ plans, given the state of uncertainty surrounding other threads hanging over the team (i.e. Jabari Parker‘s free agency).
Of course, Parker soon signed with his hometown Chicago Bulls with little resistance on the Bucks’ part while the team made further additions in Brook Lopez and Pat Connaughton to reshape their roster to maximize the talents of superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and suit new head coach Mike Budenholzer’s vision of his new club.
Now as the dust has settled and our attention has turned over to the start of this year’s training camp and the upcoming season, the immediate reaction of Ilyasova’s addition doesn’t hold the same sting months later, though the ramifications of it may cause those feelings to resurface, depending on his play and his future durability.
In spite of all that, the 31-year-old has shown the capabilities of filling a meaningful reserve role at this stage in his career as we’ve seen across multiple stops in between his various stints in Milwaukee.
Key Bucks officials such as general manager Jon Horst and players such as Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and John Henson are well versed in what Ilyasova is able to bring the court, seeing that they either watched or played alongside Ilyasova for a few years in past iterations of the team.
The same goes for Coach Bud as the Turkish international already has a year under his belt playing for the 2014-15 NBA Coach of the Year during their respective time with the Atlanta Hawks.
That familiarity between teammates and with Budenholzer will go a long way in building some rapport between the Bucks’ roster heading into the year or at the very least, will provide Ilyasova a clear picture of what he’ll need to contribute on both ends of the floor. Near the top of that list is having to space the floor and knock down three-pointers at an effective rate.
We’re obviously well aware of how respectable Ilyasova is in that department and he’s been able to maintain above or close to his career three-point shooting percentage in his previous three seasons all over the league.
With that said, Ilyasova is very prone to going through cold spells over the course of a regular season as battling through inconsistencies has long been a sticking point throughout his 11-year NBA career.
That’s obviously true of many shooters, even the elite ones around the league, but maintaining the potency Ilyasova has from that level of the floor will be paramount throughout his third stint with the Bucks as he advances into the latter stages of his career.
Perhaps the root of Ilyasova’s dry three-point shooting stretches may lie in where exactly he’s spotting up and launching away attempts from on the floor.
For example, between both his stints with the Hawks and the Philadelphia 76ers last year, the bulk of Ilyasova’s three-point attempts came from both above the break spots on the floor, Of the 179 attempts he took from those spots behind the three-point line, Ilyasova converted 31.3 percent of those looks, per NBA.com/stats.
Compare that with the 48.5 three-point percentage Ilyasova posted from both corner spots last season, per Basketball-Reference.com, and that’s quite a disparity in the shooting success the veteran saw from beyond the arc.
There’s no question the value of stretching the floor to the spots where Ilyasova is more likely to set up shop from gives the Bucks, as a whole, plenty of benefits in terms of how it can affect others’ play and their own offensive games.
But as it relates to Ilyasova specifically, either refining his long range marksmanship or generating quality looks from more advantageous three-point spots may go a long way when it comes to his three-point percentages going up a few ticks this coming season and beyond.