The Milwaukee Bucks haven’t exactly been in a good place over the past few weeks. Though they have clinched a spot in the NBA Playoffs, the Bucks also had a chance not too long ago to supplant the Boston Celtics for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. After losing four straight games and seven of their last 10, that opportunity has obviously passed.
Milwaukee has shown some very troubling signs over recent weeks, playing inconsistently on both sides of the ball, losing games that they should easily win, and getting blown out on several occasions. However, when they are looking for reasons to be optimistic, they need look no further than how Ersan Ilyasova has played lately and since the All-Star break.
Ilyasova has played in 23 of the Bucks’ 29 games since All-Star Weekend, missing six games for rest and minor injuries. He has continually received a starter’s share of minutes, averaging 32.3 minutes of playing time per game. In those games he is averaging 17.3 points, nine rebounds, 1.6 assists and one steal per game while shooting a fantastic 48.5 percent from the field and 46.5 percent from long range. He’s been fantastic.
The Bucks have obviously been helped to their playoff berth by the play of Ilyasova, but his performance should also make them feel a little more confident in the team’s future. Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis and J.J. Redick all enter free agency this off-season and all are expected to end up somewhere other than Milwaukee.
Because of the departure of three of their key players, the Bucks need to look elsewhere on their roster for where they need to place their focus in the future. With how he’s played over the last two months of the regular season, Ilyasova has shown that he is the most likely candidate to be the star for the Bucks season. With how productive he’s been, that’s not a bad thing at all for Milwaukee.