Once the Atlanta Hawks reach a contract buyout with Ersan Ilyasova, expect the Milwaukee Bucks to be a frontrunner to sign him.
Ilyasova is excellent shooting jump shots off-the-dribble and he’s also an above-average player when it comes to scoring in halfcourt situations and near the basket. He’s also very good as the roll man in a pick-and-roll offense and when he’s cutting to the basket.
According to USA TODAY’s Sam Amick, several teams could be interested in signing the 6-foot-10 forward including the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors. The usual suspects like the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers will be floated as possibilities too, as they gear up for a run at the 2018 NBA Finals.
There are a few other teams that immediately come to mind such as the Philadelphia 76ers, who already have his fellow Turkish countryman Furkan Korkmaz.
But it seems unlikely that he ends up on the Sixers, where he has already played during his career. The organization would have to release someone and the front office already jumped early in the buyout market for a shooter in Marco Belinelli.
The Raptors could make sense and and he is presumably the best player who will be available for them to sign before a run at the postseason, especially since they need shooting and a big man. But it would be challenging to find playing time on this roster considering they have so much depth. And playing time seems important to him as he weighs his options.
Would signing someone like Ilyasova be worth compromising the development of Pascal Siakam? The 23-year-old has been an essential piece of their bench unit and is in one of the most successful five-man lineups for net rating in the league.
Perhaps the situation that makes the most sense Ilyasova making a return to the Bucks, especially considering his skill in a pick-and-roll offense.
Among those with as many possessions, only three players have been more efficient than Ilyasova (1.18 points per possession) as the roll man on PnR plays.
Ilyasova is shooting 48-of-90 (53.3 percent) on these shot attempts and around 60 percent when heading to the left or right side of the basket, per Synergy Sports.
The only team that has been more efficient than the Bucks (1.21 PPP) when operating through the roll man is the Los Angeles Clippers.
Only two teams in the Eastern Conference, however, have run this play type less frequently (5.1 percent) than Milwaukee so far this season. This would give them another weapon for an offense that they already run well.
He already has experience playing alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton and John Henson from his previous time with the Bucks.
Joe Prunty, the interim head coach for Milwaukee right now, was also an assistant during his time with the team and knows how to utilize Ilyasova. Multiple other assistants from his previous stint are still on the staff, too.
For the Bucks, who remain a sleeper in the East, this seems like a match made in heaven as they look to take the next step as a franchise.