Milwaukee Bucks small forward Ersan Ilyasova dominates on a nightly basis and is a huge reason why the team has won three straight games. However, his numbers at the end of each contest shock many people because they do not realize how productive he truly was.
The 25-year-old who signed a huge contract with the Bucks before the start of the season is currently the top 3-point shooter in the NBA since Jan. 19. Over that time, he has converted 52.4 percent of his shots from 3-point range, despite going 0-for-3 Saturday night in a 112-114 overtime win against the Toronto Raptors.
Ilyasova’s performance against the Raptors is a good example of how he has quietly been productive this season. He finished with a game-high 29 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, two steals and one block in 42 minutes. Watching the game it is quite obvious he is doing well, but no one would have ever guessed that he scored 29 points. Most people would have assumed guard Monta Ellis was the leading scorer in an eight-point victory.
Since the All-Star Break, Milwaukee is 3-3 with the three losses coming by a combined six points against Eastern Conference playoff contenders. Over those six games, Ilyasova is averaging 18.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. He is also shooting 54.1 percent from the floor and 38.8 percent from beyond the arc over that span. Simply put, the Bucks would not have been in position to right the ship after their horrendous recent losing streak without the outstanding performance by Ilyasova.
The Turkey native struggled in the early part of the season in which he was non-existent on the court. For this, former head coach Scott Skiles began to cut his minutes, including taking him out of the starting lineup. Ilyasova clearly did not handle this well mentally as his production began to fall off even more. It was not until Skiles resigned and Jim Boylan took over that Ilyasova began to shine again.
“I told Ersan we have a strong backcourt, but we need more than that,” Boylan said shortly after becoming the interim head coach. “We need guys up front contributing. Larry Sanders is doing what he does well and Ersan needs to do what he does best and that’s making his perimeter shots, stretching the floor, being active on the glass and playing with a lot of heart and desire. Ersan can do all those things.”
Obviously, the pep talk worked as Ilyasova has thrived under Boylan’s watch. It is not as if Boylan is directly responsible for the unbelievable play, it is the fact that he reassured Ilyasova what he is capable of on the court.
Hopefully, the forward can keep it up, as the Bucks desperately need him to continue playing at a high-level in order for the team to move up the Eastern Conference standings to a higher spot than the eighth seed.