Ersan Ilyasova took his sweet time making his return to the Association this season. I know, the stat sheet says '5 games played,' but last night was his first real game back after a long summer that saw him help Turkey to a 2nd-place finish in the World Championships.
His line against the Celtics: 5-10 from the field, 2-2 from deep, 3-3 from the foul line, plus 7 rebounds, and only 1 turnover, all in 35 minutes.
Even with that fabulous line 5 games into his season, Ersan is only averaging 4 points, and 3 rebounds on 33% shooting in 14.6 minutes per game. The good news is that after last night's game, he has a chance to get the nod for heavier minutes over Drew Gooden, who has also shot poorly and put up only slightly better per minute numbers to start the season.
Although listed as an inch shorter than Gooden, Ersan has greater length, and there is no doubt that his quickness and athleticism at age 23 are far greater than that of the aging journeyman. He was constantly moving on defense, getting into help position and challenging drives and spot-up jumpers. He did a solid job bothering KG one-on-one, as well. He may still have some work to do on the boards, as he occasionally left his man to challenge a shot or failed to box out hard with the ball in the air, but his length allows him to make up for some of his technical shortcomings (having Bogut cleaning up the boards despite having two players hanging on him helps, too).
On the offensive end he not only found the open areas on the court, a strength that Drew Gooden shares, but also made a point to seek out a man to screen. On the ball, off the ball, it did not matter, because Ersan Ilyasova was going to be active and stay involved somehow. He was credited with only a single offensive board, but attempted to sneak in and tip rebounds out on multiple occasions, which the Bucks desperately need when their offense struggles (and it has been struggling, believe me). His efficient offensive game alone could have kept him in the game over Gooden.
The Bucks are the 3rd worst team in the league on offense, according to HoopData's offensive efficiency numbers. They need easy baskets, and Ersan's ability on defense and in transition are exactly the way to get them. I know it's only one game, but go ahead and take the risk on more minutes for Ilyasova. When you're 1-4 on the season you don't have much to lose. Time to make a change.