Consider it a bonus of the Ersan Ilyasova trade.
The Hawks forward knows how to draw a charge. In fact, he leads the NBA in the statistic with 32 charges drawn this season, five more than the next closest player in the category. Ilyasova was so good at drawing charges that it made its way into the Hawks’ scouting report when he played for opposing teams.
“It’s not why we did (the trade) but it’s a nice little perk,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
The Hawks acquired Ilyasova in a trade with the 76ers a day before the NBA trade deadline last month. He has drawn several charges in his new uniform. Ilyasova said he didn’t set out to lead the league in the statistic but it’s certainly a part of his game.
“Some defenders can block shots,” Ilyasova said Friday. “Others are better one-on-one defenders. I try to be in the right place and draw charges on those moving screens. It’s all about being in the right place. Sometimes when you chase a guy coming out of a screen, because I’m big I’ve been in the same position, you can move a little bit sideways. That’s why you are looking for the shoulder and the contact.”
Ilyasova admitted to a bit of concern when the NBA began to crack down on flopping several years ago. He said if you make sure there is contact in defending there is no need to worry about such a call. Still, there is a fine line between drawing a charge and being called for foul.
“I think there is an art to it,” Budenholzer said. “A willingness to give up your body is one of the big things, also an anticipation, a defensive I.Q. It goes without saying that if he leads the league, he’s good at it.”
Ilyasova has appeared in 12 games for the Hawks since the trade. He averages 9.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 27 minutes. He has added another stretch power forward to the lineup to play alongside – and often with – Paul Millsap. It’s a new role for the big man. In was a starter with the 76ers and now he comes off the bench. He played a switching defense in Philadelphia that often required him to defend guards. The Hawks more often than not do not switch on screens. Ilyasova has been asked to guard centers as he did Thursday against the Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol.
“I couldn’t be happier in how Ersan has fit in, is helping us, is picking things up and everything he brings,” Budenholzer said. “It’s been a really good fit. We’ve been playing he and Paul together, who spent the majority of their careers as power forwards. The great thing is Paul has shown an ability, really all four years, we’ve put him on centers and big guys. He just has a knack of guarding them. As we are learning Ersan, he is in some ways similar. It’s nice. Paul doesn’t always have to guard the center when those two plays together. They are both handy defenders who can guard lots of different positions, lots of different situations.”
In his ninth NBA season, Ilyasova has played for six teams. He spent much of his career with the Bucks but also made stops with the Magic, Pistons and Thunder before the 76ers and Hawks. He played for three teams this season alone.
Ilyasova said he is willing to change his role – wherever he plays.
“Sometimes you have to go through those adjustments,” he said. “It’s part of the NBA. Now, I’m part of the Hawks and I want to contribute in the right way.”
NBA LEADERS IN DRAWN CHARGES
1. Ersan Ilyasova: 32
2. Kemba Walker: 27
3. Marreese Speights: 26
4. DeMarcus Cousins: 21
5. Marcus Smart: 20
5. Gorgui Dieng: 20