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From the D-League to the Big League

From the D-League to the Big League
Nov 18, 2006, 11:28 am
Just over 1 year ago, Ersan Ilyasova was sent to the NBA’s Developmental League. Now at the age of 19, he was just named the starter over veteran Brian Skinner on an injured Milwaukee Bucks team.

Ilyasova was drafted in the second round of the 2005 draft (#36 overall). As an 18 year old, he entered the draft after averaging 4 points per game on Euroleague team Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul, where he only played 12 minutes per game. Rather than have him sit and learn on the bench, the Bucks decided to send him to the D-League to allow him to play major minutes, and become more acclimated to the different style of game.

While in the D-League, Ilyasova started off slow, but started playing better as the season progressed. His shot selection improved, and his rebounding numbers were solid throughout the entire season. Ilyasova played 46 games for the Tulsa 66ers last season, and was in an environment where he was allowed to play through his mistakes. In 27 minutes per game last season, he averaged 12.5 points and 7 rebounds per game. He scored in double figures in 14 of the 15 games over the last two months of the season.

So, what can we expect from Ilyasova in his first career NBA start? Well, thus far he has only played more than 20 minutes on 1 occasion this season, and has been struggling on the offensive end. He has been getting minutes because of the energy he brings to the court, as well as solid defense and rebounding. On the offensive end of the floor, Ilyasova takes a lot of 3 pointers, though he still hasn’t been hitting them consistently in games. There is no doubt he has great potential as a shooter, but his shot selection is still a work in progress. Though his offensive numbers have looked bad in the boxscores, but he does look significantly better than last year.

When watching Ilyasova play tonight, keep in mind that he is only 19 years old, and nowhere near a finished product. Also remember that he is starting as a result of injuries to Charlie Villanueva and Bobby Simmons. It will be interesting to see how Ilyasova responds in his first NBA start, and maybe it will provide a little insight to how the D-League has worked in terms of player development thus far.

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