Season So Far Recap/Notes: All Star Break. Ersan Ilyasova.
Ersan Ilyasova: Ersan Ilyasova was the player with the least amount of questions surrounding him coming into the season. He is a veteran who would be doing (largely) the same thing he has done the rest of his career (although he has never been the consistent starter.) And he has, largely, held up his end of the bargain and been perfectly acceptable. And that really is the key phrase with Ersan for the most part this season. Perfectly acceptable. On offense he has done his most important job as a stretch 4 just fine, shooting 36% from deep so far this season. He has also shown a decent dribble drive game, and that goof pump fake step back move he does. (Which by the way is hugely effective.) He is not good enough in the post to really hurt teams when they stick little guys on him, but he has shown a willingness to try and he does succeed occasionally and generally finds ways to hurt teams who put little guys on him, whether that be by posting up, shooting over, or hitting the glass hard. He also does not ever really stop the ball, if he does not have a shot he might try one quick move and if that does not work he will pass the ball to someone else with some amount of speed which is also good. Overall his offensive game has been pretty much exactly what it was advertised, a pretty good shooter who will stretch the floor, and has some moves to get a few buckets inside. Pretty nice complimentary player in the offense.
His defense however is a bit of a different story. He plays really hard, and is awesome at punking guys into committing offensive fouls, and it is always fun and generally awesome when you see a guy driving at Ersan and you just cackle with knowing glee that this dude is already dead. But even with that, he is a pretty poor defensive player. He just does not have much lateral quickness which gives him serious trouble staying in front of smaller/quicker guys, and he is not really big enough to bang down low effectively with bruisers. (although those are far and few between at the PF spot in today's NBA) While his effort does make up for a lot, when he has to close out hard to a shooter he is basically dead as it is almost comically easy for the shooter to pump and drive past him. One thing that has been a bit of a pleasant surprise (to me at least) is that he does provide a small dash of rim protection when he has to, he is very good at doing the whole verticality thing to bother guys at least a little bit without fouling. All in all on the defensive side he really struggles, but due to his effort he generally comes out to being acceptable, but Ersan's defense is definitely the biggest hole in the Pistons starting lineup. (Followed by KCP in the half court.)
Biggest Answer? Good play/being healthy. He has had a few seasons where, quite frankly, he has played very poorly and/or been hurt a lot. SVG has played him just 27 minutes per game to try and keep him healthy and it has worked so far. He has already almost matched his games played from the past 2 seasons and his numbers are all pretty solid so he is not having one of those odd seasons where he just plays like crap. But once again, he was the guy who we had the best idea as to what he would bring on the whole team.
Biggest Question? What do the Pistons do with him this offseason? He is on contract for next season but almost none of it is guaranteed, so if the Pistons wanted to cut him it would make no real difference (I believe 400,000 is guaranteed.) and most people are simply assuming that the Pistons will cut him and try and upgrade. While this is not bad logic, PF is definitely the weakest spot on the team and Ersan is sort of the odd man out on the Pistons (older, not under contract for much longer) but the reality is that having a solid backup 4 making $8 million per year may not be bad at all with the new cap, and Ersan would be a very good backup to whoever the Pistons might go out and get. (or perhaps just slide Marcus Morris to PF. But the future of the PF spot is a conversation for another time.) But if Anthony Tolliver where to resign at another small contract (around what he makes now which is $3million) then that would be a much better value for a backup PF. Regardless, the Pistons could get rid of him to make room for other guys, but they also can keep him for another year, and even if he is not the starter he is certainly a good player so it would not hurt to keep him around for another year.
What do you think they should do with him?
I think they should wait and see what people are getting paid this offseason/see what else might be out there for them. I think that they can cut him whenever they wanted so there should not be a certain date they have to decide on. But if they were to go out and get Ryan Anderson at as big a contract as he is rumored to get this offseason (Ryan Anderson is just an example. Once again the future of the PF spot is a conversation for another time.) then the backup PF would probably only be playing like 15 minutes a night or so. And assuming Tolly would resign for a similar contract then I would rather pay Tolly 3 million dollars to play 15 minutes a night than pay Ersan 8 million for the same thing. (one thing though and this goes hand in hand with how much guys are getting paid, what if Tolly is going to make like 6 million or something like that? At that point I would probably rather just hold onto Ersan because Ersan is better than Tolly.) But if the Pistons were to get a less big name guy/just shift Morris to PF and put Johnson at SF then I would be more open to holding onto him because then he would probably be able to play more minutes. (because Johnson and Morris would likely still play down to the 2 and 3 occasionally so Ersan could play alongside them.) Hell, if SVG decides he does not want to pay Anderson 20 million dollars and does not love any other PFs then Ersan would be fine as the starter for another year even. My main thing would be that the Pistons try and have the rest of their questions around the PF spot answered as much as possible before deciding on Ersan.
What do you think? Should the Pistons keep Ersan this offseason? Let me know! We all get smarter!
EDIT!!!!! The Pistons have allegedly sent Ersan and Jennings to the Magic for Tobias Harris. This is taking immediate priority over everything else. The rest of the team's season recaps so far and my Drummond/Morris mega posts will all be taking a backseat to Tobias Harris. Bout to start watching games/highlights of Tobias and get a real good look into how he will fit and a post will be up either tonight or tomorrow. (If all goes well) On the surface I freaking love this trade and Harris is a guy I had mentioned I wished the Pistons had made a run at this offseason. Spread this around if anyone wonders where the rest of the recap posts are.