NBA Free Agency 2012: 6 Reasons Ersan Ilyasova Can Make Huge Impact in Brooklyn
Don't worry, if you opened this article with the express purpose of finding out who exactly this strangely named young man attached to the name Brooklyn was, you probably aren't alone.
Who can blame people for not knowing much about Ersan Ilyasova.
For one thing, he is a Turkish-born player that was taken in the second-round seven years ago. And after playing only one season for Milwaukee in 2007-2008, he quickly bolted for Spain and played professionally there until 2009.
And yet he has been stuck in basketball purgatory in Milwaukee for the last three years.
There's not reason to feel bad if he slipped through the average fan's radar. But while Ilyasova began his career with little fanfare, he certainly should be on a lot of NBA decision-makers' minds now.
Milwaukee would certainly love to have the big man back, but he is certain to command a high raise from his current $2.5 million per season deal.
Here are six reasons why Ilyasova will be a great fit in Brooklyn.
Dwight or Brook, Ilyasova Fits
It is no secret that the Brooklyn Nets would love to trade for Dwight Howard.
They are a young team moving to a new home, and it would be great to bring in the big guy to get the fans excited.
That being said, there are a half dozen other teams that are certain to make a run at superman, and there are no guarantees that the Nets will have what it takes to pry Howard away.
Regardless, the Nets do have a Plan B—they have Brook Lopez.
Obviously Lopez took a step backwards developmentally last year given that he missed all but five games after not missing a single one prior to last season. But at 24, there is no reason to believe that Lopez won't burst onto the scene again next year when he comes back healthy.
Ilyasova is the perfect stretch four power forward. He has range for days, he is a good passer and he knows how to play the angles.
He also is a vastly improving rebounder, grabbing nearly nine per contest last year.
What Ilyasova and all stretch fours require is a big post presence to play off of, and someone who can block shots and play physically on the other end of the court.
Obviously Howard is a huge improvement over Lopez on both counts, but either one fits the bill of someone that would fit next to Ilyasova.
Imagine a high-low combination between Ilyasova and Howard. Ilyasova is a younger, bigger, more physical version of Hedo Turkoglu, and Howard was able to get him to the Finals.
Ilyasova Makes Humphries Expendable
Trust me, I am as big of a Kris Humphries fan as the next guy, but his time with the Nets is probably over.
Humphries is a good, but limited player.
He can hustle, score around the hoop, and grab some rebounds.
But he also commits a lot of turnovers, personal fouls, and does not have offensive range.
Ilyasova will be an improvement on the offensive end, and he will represent only a slight step back rebounding. He is younger and taller. He will also come cheaper.
More importantly, Ilyasova will give the Nets a new dimension offensively, pulling defenders away from the post which will help whoever mans the middle.
Furthermore, with the money they save between the two salaries, they will have more cash to throw elsewhere.
Ilyasova Compliments Crash
So while it appears that Gerald Wallace will not pick up his player option and will instead become a free agent, he is not definitely off the Nets' radar (via ESPN).
In fact, the Nets gave up too much on Wallace to just let him slip through their fingers. Look for them to aggressively try to work out a long-term deal for the swing man.
That's the good news. The even better news is that Ilyasova is the perfect fit next to Wallace.
"Crash" Wallace is a slasher on the offensive side of the ball. He likes to get to the hoop and draw contact.
Too often in New Jersey last year, there was a clogged lane. Not only is Brook Lopez and the myriad replacements the Nets trot out in there, but so too was Kris Humphries and whoever was guarding them both.
That is a lot of man space to navigate, and Wallace was unable to truly play his game at times.
Now insert Ilyasova. Suddenly, there is a spaced out court with angles that Wallace can maneuver.
Add to this Ilyasova's passing ability and his Euro-style knowledge of quick cuts, and you have a much more aerodynamic offensive system.
Deron, Meet Ersan
Think about when Deron Williams was at his best. During his time in Utah, Williams thrived and became one of the best point guards in the game.
What was different in that situation than from his time in New Jersey? He had big men who could spread the floor and shoot the ball.
Back in Utah, Deron had a guy with a strange name from Turkey.
True, the country of origin matters little, but there are great similarities between Ersan Ilyasova and Mehmet Okur.
Having a stretch four on the roster allows Williams a bailout option once he breaks down the defense. It also allows him a perfect pick-and-roll partner, something he was sorely missing in New Jersey.
Obviously Williams is likely to test the free agent waters this offseason, but it certainly would sweeten the pot if he knew he had someone like Ilyasova waiting for him in Brooklyn.
Ilyasova Makes Free Agent Pitch Better
Right now, the Nets have very little committed to salaries next season.
That isn't to say that they will field a weak team next year.
The Nets have maneuvered themselves to become major players in this year's free-agent bonanza.
They have the excitement of opening a new arena, they have the Jay-Z connection and they have the bright lights of the Big Apple at their new address. However, they will need some players to help lure additional free agents, and Ilyasova could help there.
Ilyasova is the perfect teammate for a number of reasons.
He is unselfish, has unlimited range, and doesn't mind mixing it up down low. He also sets efficient picks and with his nearly unblockable jump shot, he is a nice bailout for the offense when the clock runs down.
Obviously we have explored why Ilyasova would be a nice compliment to Deron Williams, Dwight Howard and Gerald Wallace.
But there are a myriad of other players that would fit well with him. At point guard Williams would benefit from Ilyasova, but so too would Steve Nash, Jason Kidd or Aaron Brooks. At shooting guard, MarShon Brooks would benefit from the back door picks that Ilyasova can set, but so too would Ray Allen, O.J. Mayo and Nick Young.
Obviously Wallace is Plan A when it comes to small forward, but if he bails, they still would have the option of going after a slasher like Nic Batum or Jamario Moon.
Having someone with Ilyasova's skill set would certainly bolster Brooklyn's plans.
The Next Dirk (lite)?
Okay Mavs fans, before you crucify me, keep in mind I am not saying Ersan Ilyasova will become the next Dirk.
I know there is only one Nowitzki, and I am a fan of his game.
That being said, there are a lot of reasons that Nowitzki comes to mind when talking about Ersan.
Both are incredibly big, offensively unlimited talents with good rebounding abilities and great court awareness. But while Nowitzki has been blessed with great pass-first point guards his entire career (Steve Nash, Jason Kidd) Ilyasova has been playing with a shooting guard trapped in a point guard's body.
Brandon Jennings, for all that he does well, does not really make his teammates better.
He can score, but he doesn't set up his squad.
Ilyasova, if paired with a point guard that can set him up properly, could certainly become a Dirk-lite type of player.
Watch some highlights of Ilyasova—the comparison is uncanny.
Ilyasova, like Dirk, plays a smart game on the offensive side of the ball. He sets the right screens, takes the right shots and stretches the defense with great shooting and superb passing.
Now, I'm not saying that Ilyasova will become Dirk. But what I am saying is that if paired with a point guard of a similar caliber to Nash or Kidd, there is no reason to believe that Ilyasova won't play a similar game.