The rumors of Ersan Ilyasova’s unhappiness might not have been totally accurate.
While he didn’t profess his undying love for Milwaukee, Ilyasova took time to re-establish the goal he’s had for many years with the media. And that goal is to be in the NBA.
“My goal is just be an NBA player,” Ilysaova said at media day last Saturday. “That’s why I broke out of my contract with Barcelona two years ago and come play for the Bucks. The main thing is just be an NBA player and stay here as much longer as I can.”
With one year left on his contract in Milwaukee, his future as a Buck may be in doubt past this season, even if the NBA is his goal.
After Ilyasova’s first season back in Milwaukee in 2009, it looked like he would be able to dictate how long his stay with the Bucks would be. His knack for rebounding and aggressive, physical defense were a welcome compliment to his three-point shooting, something the team only expected him to get better at.
But season two back with the Bucks did not go so smooth. Coming off a strong run at the World Championships, Ilyasova often looked indecisive. His pump fakes were less action orientated, less part of a plan of how to attack and more defensive in nature. He was slow to swing passes around on the wing and struggled with his shot, hitting just 29.8% of his threes.
June trade rumors and the lockout forcing him into a job with a European team all seemed to contribute to rumblings that went on throughout the off-season that Ilyasova was not long for either the Bucks or the NBA. But both Ersan and the team have seemed happy enough with each other since camp has begun.
“It was difficult, to just start adjusting to the one place and now we have to go back to what’s basically our home here,” he said. “You know, we’re okay with it. I’m mostly happy now that’s the lockout is over and the season is starting. The best thing we can do now is take care of ourselves and not get hurt and be competitive and have a good season.”
“All the time since I was drafted I was with the Bucks since I was 18 and now I’m 24, so basically I’ve been here forever. I’m looking forward to being here. We didn’t have a very good season last year, we had a lot of injuries. This year we got a lot of new players on our roster again.”
“It’s like I say, we change the players a lot each year. The main thing is the coaches need to adjust. Put all these pieces together and how are they going to work together for us at game time.”
Ilyasova said he would be comfortable with whatever role is asked of him.
Lacking the quickness or ball-handling skills to spend time at the three, despite average and occasionally above average long range shooting skills, Ilyasova has spent the majority of his time as a Buck at the four. But he slid over to the five at time with smaller lineups last season and could do so again if the Bucks opt to head into the season without a clear backup center.
According to 82games.com, 5% of the team’s minutes at center last season were played by Ilyasova, and in that time, he posted an offensive rating (points/100 possessions) of 95.3 and a defensive rating of 90.3.
“It’s not kind of my thing, just go and ask,” he said when answering questions regarding his role this season. “Just prepare and stay focus no matter what, the position the coach wants me on the court, just be ready.”
And despite struggles last season, both before and after a concussion that left him out of the lineup for 22 games, Ilyasova isn’t concerned about his ability to make the adjustment from the Euro League back to the NBA. After all, it’s nothing new for him.
“The main thing, I was playing in both leagues a long time enough to make adjustment quickly,” he said. “It’s kind of okay with me, it’s not a huge adjustment from European basketball to the NBA.”
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.