Mike Check

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Hawks player preview: Ersan Ilyasova


The Hawks are set to begin training camp on Sept. 26. I'm previewing one player each day leading up to camp (in alphabetical order).

Ersan Ilyasova

Position: PF

Height/Weight: 6-10, 235

Age: 30 (5/15/87)

2017-18 salary: $6 million

CARMELO projected value: minus $8.1 million

How acquired: 2017 free agent (re-signed)

OFFENSE

Ilyasova operated from all areas of the floor as a young player in Milwaukee but he’s become a perimeter-oriented “stretch four” in his later years. Over the past two seasons 43 percent of Ilyasova’s total field-goal attempts were 3-pointers and he posted a 50.5 effective field-goal percentage that is about league average.

Source: Basketball Reference

Ilyasova probably would be more effective if he became even more perimeter-oriented. He was efficient on catch-and-shoot jumpers  last season but inefficient on pull-ups and drives. Ilyasova also made just 55.8 percent of his 267 shots within five feet of the basket, according to NBA.com ,ranking 97th among bigs who attempted at least 200.

Even with all those 3s, Ilyasova still gets to the free-throw line at a pretty good rate. He shot 75.3 percent on free throws over the past two seasons with a 53.7 percent true shooting percentage. Ilyasova’s turnover rate has always been low and his assist rate, usually low, was up during his stints with the Hawks and Sixers last season.

Source: Basketball Reference

DEFENSE

Ilyasova’s defensive profile on FiveThirtyEight.com’s CARMELO, which uses a three-year average, shows that he’s OK all-around with the box score stats. Ilyasova’s defensive rebound percentage last season (18.8) ranked 46 th among rotation bigs in the NBA.

Ilyasova also is a good post defender. Last season his .08 points per possession allowed on post plays ranked 49th among players with 50 possessions or more. And Ilyasova allowed 31.5 percent shooting while defending the 3-point line, according to NBA.com stats.

Ilyasova ranked 34th in Defensive Real Plus-Minus last season but played for three different teams. FiveThirtyEight.com’s defensive metric, a combination of Box Plus-Minus and DRPM averaged over three seasons, gave Ilyasova a -0.2 plus-minus.

OUTLOOK

Ilyasova joined the Hawks in a trade last season and seems to be a good fit for this year’s team. He’s a legitimate rotation player who should help them be competitive. The Hawks re-signed him to a reasonable one-year deal and clearly believe he’ll be a good veteran for a rebuilding team.

"Obviously we are a young team,” Ilyasova said at his introductory news conference. “It's all about (me) bringing the experience, share with the young guys and push them to play at a high level."

Ilyasova wasn’t as good in 12 games with the Hawks last season as he was in 40 with the Sixers. But there’s no reason to believe he won’t continue to be productive after he played a career-high 2,142 minutes in 2016-17. He projects to be the starting power forward this season with first-round draft pick John Collins and veteran Mike Muscala behind him.

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About the Author

Michael Cunningham has covered the Hawks and other beats for the AJC since 2010. He is the author of the AJC’s Mike Check blog.