Ersan Ilyasova missed a lot of shots and the Bucks lost another practice game

The Bucks were a bit grim faced on Saturday night. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Bucks were a bit grim faced on Saturday night. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

“Shooters, they let it fly. For him, all great looks.”

Jason Kidd had no problems with what Ersan Ilyasova was doing on Saturday night. What Ilyasova was doing, was shooting. He finished Milwaukee’s 91-85 loss to the Chicago Bulls with just four made field goals in 20 attempts. Kidd had no issue with the number of attempts, as he shouldn’t. Ilaysova is on the court to grab rebounds, space the court and get up shots.

Let’s talk about some of these shots that Ilyasova takes though. Not from where or why, but the actual shots themselves. Always with the quick flips and fading away, is Ersan. It’s tough to watch at best and ineffective at worst. Two minutes into the game he attempted to quickly flip a shot over Pau Gasol who promptly rejected it. When he was getting rejected, these quick shots weren’t often falling and generally seemed low percentage. His lack of athleticism is striking at these moments.

When he’s spacing the court and providing shooting from the top of the key, Ilyasova is a real asset. When he’s grabbing offensive boards and taking charges, he’s making a real impact. When he’s launching one foot floaters? Not so much.

Ilyasova’s struggles were symbolic of the Bucks problems collectively on Saturday. The team could not make many shots, connecting on only 35% of its looks. Kidd said after the game he was pleased with the number of open looks the Bucks got, but it sure seemed like a smaller amount than the Bulls had. Chicago’s athleticism at a variety of positions really stood out against a Bucks team that, for all its length, is largely ground bound.

The likes of Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler seemed very impressive against Kendall Marshall, John Henson, Ilysaova, Jared Dudley and O.J. Mayo. There seemed to be gears the Bulls were reaching that the Bucks could not quite get to. That’s to be expected of a guy like Derrick Rose, but the way that Gibson seemed to at times bully and terrorize Henson and Ilyasova stood out to me.

There were positive developments Saturday. Larry Sanders looked very active and impactful, before fouling out in 24 minutes with 14 points and eight rebounds. No major injuries were suffered and the cheers for Jabari Parker before the game were louder than the cheers for RoseBaby steps.

The most positive development was the continued development of Milwaukee’s potential cornerstone point guard/small forward/long guy. Brandon Knight was removed for precautionary reasons after running into Parker and that served up an opportunity for Giannis Antetokounmpo to get an extended audition at the point guard position. He ran the offense in the fourth quarter and looked both capable and sure of himself.

“I thought Giannis did a great job for us at the point, running the show,” Kidd said after the game. “Finding guys and also being able to find his shot. Again, with the minutes he played at the point, he did a lot of good things for us.”

Most intriguing was how he was actually Milwaukee’s point guard and not a forward handling the ball. The difference is not inconsequential.

While Kidd and John Hammond pointed out earlier in camp that they envisioned him playing with a smaller player at times and just handling the ball-handling duties, on Saturday, late in the game, he was not on the court with smaller players. He was on the court with Mayo Dudley and Parker as the other guards and wings. This forced the Bulls to matchup Kirk Hinrich on Giannis, who on a couple of occasions was able to make use of his size in the post. He drew a foul on Hinrich once and dropped in a neat little hook shot another time.

“He showed kind of that Magic Johnson little baby hook,” Kidd said. “Giannis, again when you talk about Jabari, Giannis they’re 19-years-old. They have to go through different situations so they’re computer brain can understand how teams are playing them, so we can get them in the post, either Jabari or Giannis. And then it’s just patience. Because right now, at 19, everything is going so fast. So we’re trying to get them to slow down.”

In time, Giannis and Parker will learn. For now, they’ll continue to show something that gets people excited about what could be to come. And that’s what will make Bucks games, even games like this one, worth watching this season.

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  1. Did anybody else see it?… feel it? At the beginning of the second half, Kendall Marshall was distributing the basketball, getting everyone involved, even helping Ersan to get an easy basket… and there was ENERGY… on offense and defense… and the Bucks had something really good going for at least part of the 3rd quarter.

    Didn’t you see it, Jeremy? I’m not trying to be overly provocative, but where was Kendall’s contribution in your above story? The Bulls announcers noted it — but did anyone else in Bucksketball-land? Maybe I’m nuts.

    As for Jason Kidd, apparently he didn’t notice it, because he sat Kendall the entire 4th quarter, which was mostly a sluggish snoozefest as a result. Yes, Giannis made some exciting and impressive drives to the hoop, but I don’t think he did much in the way of being a point guard, that is getting his teammates involved in any way close to Kendall’s achievement.

    Anybody out there who reads Bucksketball and has ever played so much as a pickup game of basketball probably knows what it’s like to get touches, to feel involved in the offense, to take even an occasional shot. Without trying, your energy level rises, the enthusiasm flows, and the game is really, really fun!

    That’s what happened to Kendall’s teammates on the Bucks on Saturday for a brief spurt of enjoyment (obscured somewhat by the Bucks’ poor shooting at the time). That’s why Kendall’s deft, somewhat subtle, but outstanding exhibition at point guard beginning the second half was the highlight of the game. This is what the Bucks need, because Kendall didn’t just affect Kendall, he lifted the whole team!

    That was cool! Did anyone else notice?

    • Yeah, he is a really good passer but needs work in a few other places, defense in particular. I know he was up against Rose who makes a lot of defenders look bad but at times Rose seemed to fly past him like he was standing still. Too bad you can’t magically splice his court vision and passing into Knight. You’d have an all star.

    • Kidd said after the game he didn’t want to burn out Kendall Marshall and that’s why he did not play in the fourth quarter, so he gave Giannis the minutes.

  2. “His lack of athleticism is striking at these moments.” That’s a quote about Ersan if I ever saw one. I used to be a Ers apologist, but no more. I’m pretty sure I can block him and I’m 5’9″. His shooting on the way down and complete lack of conviction on his shots is appalling.

    Giannis, in my opinion, dribbles way too high when he’s “running the point”. He needs to tighten up the stroke a bit. It’s making opposing defenders mouths water when they see that ball so high up.

  3. What’s up with all these negative comments about Ersan?

    Other than:

    -he can’t seem to actually make a shot for more than a year now.
    -has got to be one of the most unathletic forwards in the game. Jumping and moving wise.
    -cannot guard anyone.
    -cannot create at all off the dribble.
    -has played so poorly the past year cannot even get himself traded.

    He sounds like starting forward material to me!! Hoist those shots Ers.

    “Free John Henson”.

  4. wasnt in a position to see the game (head stuck in an undesirable place all night)….. that being said….. anyone criticizing the “little things” about giannis running the point at this point in his career really needs to understand he’s still 19 and still had very little experience at the 1. He’ll get better, he obviously has the aptitude to learn and the humility to not take things beyond his ability. once things slow down for him, and with kidd and the glove as tutors, he’ll get his skills rounded out. also, due to his length, his dribble will look longer than a point guard, thats just by default.

    I think we pretty much knew what marshall was going to do when we got him…… so if he shows what we know he’s capable of in practice games in short order, I’m all for giving someone else the minutes that needs the practice.

    I was advocating that ersan be traded before the season, but my fears came true. The rest of the NBA knows what most bucks fans already knew, he’s just not athletic enough to compete day in and day out at his position at the NBA level. can he space the floor? sure, can he shoot the ball? sometimes, can he play defense? not very well…….. he’s just too limited by inferior athleticism.

    the team obviously needs tweaks which will happen either midseason or after this season…… so much like the brewers this past year I’m taking the same approach with the bucks, no expectations, gonna enjoy the ride. :)