Bucks Lead

Ersan’s Early Impact

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Every Bucks fan above the age of fourteen remembers “Ersanity”– the term coined by Bucks fans because national media didn’t seem to care about what he was doing for Milwaukee. While Jeremy Lin was going on a tear in New York, another man was also playing out of his mind in Milwaukee. That was the man, the myth, the legend– Ersan Ilyasova.

The Beginning

Ersan was drafted out of Turkey by the Bucks in 2005, with the 36th overall pick. His first year, he played a season in the D-League (Now the G-League) and never appeared with the Bucks. The following season, he played 66 games with Milwaukee, shot under 40% and did not look good on the defensive end. After a relatively rough first season in the NBA, Ersan decided to play in a pro league in Spain for two years. While in Spain, the Bucks still owned his NBA rights, so Ersan was there to develop his game more in order to be more NBA ready. His time over there certainly made a difference.

In his first season back in Milwaukee, his averaged 10.4 PPG and 6.4 RPG while improving his field goal percentage by six points– up to 44.3%. Ersan was also a beast on the offensive boards, became a solid interior defender and drew charges like nobody else could. He was the man. Ersan spent another five years in Milwaukee, consistently averaging between 9.5-13.2 PPG each season. He was the definition of a solid role player. He was also a very capable scorer.

End of His First Stint In Milwaukee

After the 2014-15 season — Jason Kidd’s first season as coach –, Ersan was dealt to the Detroit Pistons for a future second-round draft pick. The Bucks went 41-41 in his last season with Milwaukee, and were kicked out by the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. With Jabari Parker still having promise at the time, and John Henson still seeming like he could be a solid big, the Bucks did not see a reason to keep Ersan on board. He then became an NBA journeyman, making stops in Orlando, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia (twice) and Atlanta before finally returning home.

The Return

Prior to returning to the Bucks this past offseason, he played 72 games with the Atlanta Hawks under Mike Budenholzer. Obviously, Bud liked him, so the Bucks inked Ersan to a three-year/$21M contract, with the third year being a team option. Many Bucks fans on Twitter thought this signing was terrible, which was head scratching. It may have been because so many fans didn’t understand how perfectly a player like him fits into Budenholzer’s system, but a guy like Ersan is extremely valuable to any team. You can never have too many bigs who can rebound, score in the paint, protect the paint, and shoot from distance. There aren’t many guys who can do all of those that will only be getting paid $7M per season.

So far, through seven games with the new and incredibly improved Milwaukee Bucks, Ersan has been phenomenal:

9.4 PPG | 6.9 RPG | 1.6 APG | 52.1% FG | 36.4% 3Pt

He was asked to fill in for Giannis (concussion) on Monday against Toronto, and fill in he did. He scored 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and shot 66.7% from the field. Ersan, along with Brook Lopez, are the exact type of players needed to make this offensive scheme work. Both of them space the floor beautifully. You have to respect both of their jump shots, which opens up the lane for Giannis, Eric Bledsoe & Malcolm Brogdon to drive in.

Ersan is also performing very well defensively. As a matter of fact, the Bucks have five of the top 12 NBA leaders in Defensive Rating. While he may not look like a great defender, Ersan really does make an impact on the defensive side. Not only does he draw a ton of charges, grab a lot of rebounds and contest shots, but he is a hustler. He never gives up. He closes out very quickly for a guy of his size, defends the perimeter better than people give him credit for, and protects the rim well. Ersan really is the complete player, and Bud’s system will be a great chance for him to prove it once again.

He may not get the national coverage he deserves as a phenomenal bench player, but we’re used to that here. We don’t need the attention to be great, and neither does he. Ersan is the perfect player for this Bucks team, and barring any injury, he is going to be a huge reason for Milwaukee’s success going forward.

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About Nick Niles

I'm Nick Niles! I was born in Green Bay Wisconsin, raised in Appleton Wisconsin, and now I'm back in Green Bay at UW-GB studying Political Science and Public Administration. I have been a huge Bucks fan for as long as I have been alive, and I'm also passionate about writing. Twitter: @Bucks_Deluxe | @Nilesmania

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