Now that Scott Skiles and the Bucks have mutually agreed to part ways, the first move new coach Jim Boylan made was to re-insert forward Ersan Ilyasova back into the starting lineup.
(The titling here is a bit awkward. John Hammond was careful to point out that Boylan is not an interim head coach, but at the same time, the press release tagged Boylan as the coach ‘for the remainder of the season’ — which, of course, makes it sound like he really is the de facto interim head coach auditioning for a shot at returning next season.)
According to Jim Paschke, Ilyasova starts tonight at home against the Suns:
— Jim Paschke (@Paschketball) January 8, 2013
Ah, finally! Someone pulling the reins who has the wherewithal to make Ersan a starter.
Just kidding. Skiles tried the same move to start the season. Ilyasova, fresh off signing a 5-year, $40 million contract with the Bucks over the summer, promptly starting off the season as the Turkish Thud.
Ersan Ilyasova is basically good for two things: three-point shooting and rebounds. (Okay, three. He will take a charge too. In fact, he may be a closet masochist. He seems to draw pleasure from getting railroaded by some of the NBA’s most imposing players.)
In November, primarily as a starter, Ilyasova averaged 7.8 rebounds per 36 minutes while making 21% of his three-point shots. In December, playing in 15 games as a sub, Ersan averaged 9.3 rebounds per 36 minutes and hit 53% of his three-point shots.
In a lot of ways, Scott Skiles initial frontcourt rotation made a lot of sense. In theory, Ilyasova could have provided spacing on offense for Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Samuel Dalembert could have helped rebound and protect the rim. Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders should have been able to stay in bench roles, capitalizing on their long arms and defensive synergy. Mike Dunleavy could be used as the offense when Jennings or Ellis (or both) were off the court. Harris could be used in regular doses, with those samples increased on nights where he looked productive as a starter.
It all made sense, but it fell to a gajillion bazillion pieces primarily because Ilyasova forgot how to shoot and he let it ruin the rest of his game.
Don’t cry for Skiles. Ilyasova didn’t spoil Skiles’ job on him. Skiles wanted out of the Bucks organization anyway, but it would have been interesting to see if he fell the same way if the Bucks had a 19-9 record after the Heat win instead of a 16-12 one.
In any case, Ersan’s shot has since returned, and it will be extremely interesting to see if he can keep it up now that his starter’s job has returned as well.