Posts Tagged ‘Ersan Ilyasova’

Pressure Growing For Jennings, Bucks

HANG TIME, TEXAS — Coming off their impressive run to the NBA championship, LeBron James and his Heat teammates are undoubtedly in the firing line with every team from Oklahoma City to New Jersey to a pair of them in Los Angeles taking aim at that title.

The Lakers, reloaded and rejuvenated with the additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, are back in their familiar place in the spotlight.

The Knicks, as usual, are in the glare of the media capital and once more under the unrealistic and misguided notion that they can turn the clock back to 1973.

But as we tiptoe through the calendar toward the opening of training camps, there might not be a team sitting collectively in the heat of the frying pan as the Bucks.

Consider that point guard Brandon Jennings has not yet signed a contract extension, while coach Scott Skiles and general manager John Hammond are also entering the final year of their contracts.

None of those facts have gone unnoticed on a team that has missed the playoffs the past two years, as Jennings noted to Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“To be honest, I think everybody is (feeling pressure),” Jennings said. “We’re all on the bubble right now,  because we need to win. There’s going to be a lot of pressure on all of us, not just the coaching staff or the GM. We all know this could be it so we need to turn it around right now.” (more…)

Report: Bucks To Keep Ilyasova

The Milwaukee Bucks didn’t make the playoffs last season, but their offseason has already been a success. Sources confirmed a report on the basketball Web site HoopsHype Sunday afternoon that the club was close to a deal that would keep forward Ersan Ilyasova in Milwaukee on a five-year, $45 million deal.

Ilyasova was one of the top free agents on the market at power forward, a “stretch four” who finished tied for second in the league in three-point percentage last season (.455) with Warriors guard Stephen Curry. But he also averaged 8.8 rebounds to go with his 13 points per game, posting 20 double-doubles for the Bucks and finishing second to Orlando’s Ryan Anderson in voting for Most Improved Player.

The Nets had significant interest in signing Ilyasova, particularly if they were unable to make a trade for Magic center Dwight Howard. But one source said Sunday that Milwaukee had never been very concerned about Brooklyn, surmising that the Nets couldn’t create enough cap room to make an offer that Ilyasova would have to seriously consider. The Raptors also were reportedly interested, and Ilyasova had offers to play in Europe as well.


Reports: Sixers To Sign Clippers’ Young; Plan To Part With Williams, Brand

Just as Philadelphia’s notorious sports boo-birds began clearing their throats for a little un-brotherly love over their NBA team’s offseason inactivity, the Sixers made some noise of their own.

There were a myriad of reported items for the Sixers on Friday, starting with an agreement on a one-year contract worth approximately $6 million for shooting guard Nick Young. Then the Sixers made even bigger news, making clear their plan to use the CBA’s amnesty clause on veteran power forward Elton Brand, as’s Marc Stein reports:

Brand will still collect the full $18 million that the Sixers owe him next season, but he will first be offered to teams under the salary cap through the waiver process, with under-the-cap teams able to lodge bids for him.

Sources tell that the Dallas Mavericks, under the salary cap after being foiled in their pursuit of marquee free agent Deron Williams, have interest in claiming Brand through the waiver process.

In the event that he goes unclaimed on waivers, Brand would then be free to sign as a free agent wherever he chooses.

They also will not be bringing back combo guard Lou Williams, a free agent who – off the bench – was Philadelphia’s leading scorer last season (14.9 ppg in 26.3 mpg). Williams removed any uncertainty about his Philly future by going the D-Will route and tweeted the news himself:

Philly, I appreciate you all. Unfortunately I will not be coming back, as an organization they decided to move in a different direction. (more…)

Rick’s Tips: Waiver Wrapping

The time for waiver watching is over, but we’re back to wrap up this season’s blog with my All-Waiver team — plus, my picks for the reality awards.

All-Waiver Team

CNikola Pekovic: Pek proved he’s a legit NBA center, averaging 13.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in 26.9 minutes, while shooting 56 percent from the floor and 75 percent from the line.

PFRyan Anderson: The NBA leader in threes by a mile over second-place Jason Terry, Anderson was the Pickup of the Year.

SFErsan Ilyasova: Andrew Bogut’s broken ankle and eventual trade opened up 27.4 minutes per game for Ilyasova, who averaged 13.0 points and 8.8 rebounds with a shade under 1.0 in blocks, steals, and threes.

SGNicolas Batum: Speaking of fantasy gold, Batum was one of two players in the NBA this season to average at least 1.0 in blocks (1.0), steals (1.0), and threes (1.8). The other wears #35 for OKC.

PGJeremy Lin: Lin’s meteoric rise might go down as the top story of the 2011-12 regular season, and had he not gotten hurt, he might have passed Anderson for Pickup of the Year.

Fantasy Awards

MVP LeBron James: I’m going with LeBron over Durant for two reasons: the Heat are 14-1 without Dwyane Wade (as of Sunday) and LeBron shot a career-high 53 percent from the field.

ROYKyrie Irving: The moment Ricky Rubio went down, this was Irving’s trophy, thanks in large part to sharp shooting from the field (.468), line (.872), and three-point line (.398).

MIPGreg Monroe: I looked hard at Anderson, Roy Hibbert and DeMarcus Cousins, but settled on Monroe for upgrading in virtually every category, including scoring (9.4 to 15.5), rebounding (7.5 to 9.7), and free-throw shooting (62 to 74 percent), despite a meager minutes increase of 27.8 to 31.6.

DPOYSerge Ibaka: Ibaka dominates the league at 3.7 blocks per game, while #2 is Javale McGee at 2.2. C’mon…the dude had a triple-double with blocks!

Sixth ManJames Harden: Duh…

COYLionel Hollins: I thought the Grizzlies were done when Zach Randolph went down in the first week, but thanks to Hollins’ leadership the Grizz have challenged for home-court advantage in the West all season.

Thanks for the eyes, basketball fans. See ya on the air and on the road during the playoffs, what a wild ride it’s gonna be…

Who Is Your MIP?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We’ll get back to our MVP debate later this week.

While we wait to decide between LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant for the top award, today we get an early look at the frontrunners for the Most Improved Player award.

Our West Coast bureau chief Scott Howard-Cooper weighs in today with something of a surprise pick in Jeremy Lin of the Knicks. And he overlooks the fact that Lin played just 53 percent of the Knicks’ game this season and instead focuses on the impact Lin had and the seismic rise in production for the undrafted Lin from his rookie season to this one.

H-C makes the case:

Twenty-seven games, 25 starts, 17.9 points, 7.4 assists and 44.5 percent shooting in 33.1 minutes. The season-long numbers: 35 games, 25 starts, 14.6 points, 6.2 assists, 44.6 percent shooting and 26.9 minutes.

But yes. Playing barely more than half the season, the equivalent of 43 games in a season with an ordinary calendar, is enough to earn Most Improved.


Time To Earn For Bucks’ Ersan

MILWAUKEE – Forward Ersan Ilyasova has been on a tear for the Milwaukee Bucks – enough of one, in fact, that there might be interest in him at the NBA’s fast-approaching trading deadline (though Ilyasova will be an unrestricted free agent come July).

The 6-foot-10 power forward from Turkey, still just 24, had averaged 17.1 points and 11.7 rebounds over his last 10 games heading into Milwaukee’s clash vs. Chicago Wednesday night at Bradley Center. He had an active streak of 25 consecutive games with at least one offensive rebound, and he had boosted his 3-point shooting from 29.8 percent last season to 37.3 percent.

A week before the All-Star Game, Ilyasova went for 29 points and 25 rebounds against New Jersey, just the third player in franchise history to log a 25/25 game. In 37 appearances, he had three games with at least 20 points and had led the Bucks on the boards 19 times, compared to four and 11 times respectively in 60 games last season.

Granted, there are more rebounds to be had, with Andrew Bogut out again. But Ilyasova is free of the concussion troubles that cost him 20 games last season and he has improved his focus on the glass and his overall play. It’s safe to say that Ilyasova -– a bargain playing near the end of a three-year, $7 milllion contract -– will get a big raise somewhere this summer, though he has a nice comfort zone in Milwaukee.

“He’s rebounded the ball at a great rate pretty much the whole season,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said before Wednesday’s game. “And he doesn’t take as many ill-advised threes, and that’s had a very positive effect on his game. He’s gone from a 25-to-27 percent 3-point shooter to a plus-35 percent 3-point shooter in large part because he takes good ones now. He’s not running around searching for the line as so many guys do. If he finds it and he’s behind it and his feet are set, he lets it go. Otherwise … from 12-18 feet, when his feet are set, he’s a high-level shooter. He’s kind of found his areas there.”

Was it hard to sell Ilyasova on this more disciplined, higher percentage approach?

“No,” Skiles said bluntly. “He’s in his contract year.”

Rick’s Tips: Waiver Watching

The NBA is on fire right now!

Sunday was one of the greatest NBA days I can remember, what with the Kobe-Wade/LeBron showdown, Rajon Rondo’s historic triple-double, and Deron Williams’ career-high 57 points. Amazingly, Kobe doubled-up Wade (33-16), Rondo dialed up 18-17-20, and Williams exploded after 24 total points in his previous two games.

We haven’t chopped up the waiver wire in a couple of weeks, so consider this a heads up about players who may — and I want to stress “may” — still be available.

Jordan Crawford

Nick Young has been hampered by a knee injury and Crawford has taken full advantage, topping 20 points in five of his last eight games. Crawford peaked on Saturday with 31 points against the Cavaliers, reminding the fantasy world of what he did last year, when he averaged 19.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.2 threes in 18 starts.


Bucks Again Getting A D In ‘O’


Scorers come, scorers go and still the Milwaukee Bucks struggle to light up the scoreboard.

For the second time in as many offseasons – or what passed for one this time in the post-lockout rush job between Thanksgiving and Christmas – the Bucks have tried to spruce up their offense. With dreary results.

Prior to 2010-11, it was Corey Maggette, John Salmons and an offensive-boarding Drew Gooden who were going to get buckets for the Bucks. Instead, Milwaukee slipped from 23rd in points per game to dead last in the NBA (91.9), from 29th in field-goal percentage to last (.430) and from 12th in 3-point shooting to 24th (.342).

This time around, Stephen Jackson, Mike Dunleavy and Beno Udrih were brought aboard with similar hopes and expectations. And yet, after 10 days and five games, Milwaukee is having trouble scoring again. It ranks 24th, 25th and 27th in the three categories above, while its raw numbers have declined – 90.8 ppg, .412 and .253 – in part due to lockout rust but in part, frankly, because the Bucks and coach Scott Skiles earn their scoring shortcomings.

The 85-73 loss at Utah Tuesday was the latest example of Milwaukee putting the uh-oh in offense, as blogged by Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Drew Gooden, starting in place of Andrew Bogut after the Bucks starting center had to leave the team for personal reasons, scored 24 points and was the only Milwaukee player to shoot better than 50% from the field (12 of 20).

Take Gooden’s shots out of the mix and the rest of the team made 22.7% on field goal attempts (17 of 75).

“We’ve got to recognize when we’re not scoring, and when we’re going through droughts, slow down and try to execute,” Bucks guard Shaun Livingston said. “Try to get great shots, not good shots.”

An asterisk was in order, because Bogut was joined in absentia by Dunleavy (groin injury) and Udrih (shoulder). Also, Milwaukee did average 98.3 points in its first three games, hanging 95 on the Bobcats, 98 on the Timberwolves and 102 on the Wizards. But then the Bucks’ output dropped to 86 at Denver Monday, followed by 73 last night. And remember, this is with Jackson and Carlos Delfino presumably green-lighted by Skiles and his staff and Ersan Ilyasova firing away as if he is, at least, healthy.

One contributing factor is point guard Brandon Jennings, who is back down to 37.6 percent (32-of-85) after bumping his accuracy ever so slightly from 37.1 percent as a rookie in 2009-10 to 39.0 last season. And let’s face it, bad shooting can be contagious same as good; if a defense can sag off one or two men, it can devote more attention to others. Utah contested a lot of shots at Energy Solutions Arena – Derrick Favors had five blocks and Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap swatted two each – but there were open clangs as well that made life a little easier on the Jazz.

The question now is whether the Bucks have both the personnel and the wherewithal to improve offensively. Michael Redd is gone. Ray Allen, Marques Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar aren’t walking through that door, either. The pattern under Skiles isn’t promising: Since he took over in 2008-09, Milwaukee has not ranked in the top 10 in any of the three areas above, getting as high as 12th in 3-point shooting two seasons ago.

Everyone knows, and many appreciate, the bulldog defense that Skiles preaches. But it seems odd that the guy who, as a Magic point guard, holds the NBA record for most assists in a game – 30, Orlando vs. Denver, Dec. 30, 1990 – can’t set up his team for more easy buckets.

The Numbers Game: Eurobasket

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (NEW JERSEY BUREAU) — Sixteen teams have gone home from EuroBasket, their Olympic hopes dashed. Eight teams remain, playing for two Olympic berths and four spots at next summer’s last-chance qualifying tournament.

Russia is the only undefeated team entering the quarterfinals, but Spain remains the favorite and, statistically, was the most dominant team in pool play. Each team has only played eight games, so we’re dealing with small sample sizes here. But when we look at offensive and defensive efficiency, we can get a good idea of how each team qualified for elimination-round play.

Eurobasket Efficiency
Team W L Pace Rank OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank
France 7 1 72.0 12 111.1 3 105.3 13 +5.7 6
FYR of Macedonia 6 2 69.0 21 98.8 17 93.5 3 +5.3 7
Greece 6 2 68.0 22 103.6 12 97.9 7 +5.7 5
Lithuania 6 2 72.5 8 116.9 1 105.7 14 +11.2 3
Russia 8 0 69.3 20 108.0 7 91.4 1 +16.6 2
Serbia 5 3 72.6 7 110.3 5 107.6 17 +2.7 9
Slovenia 5 3 67.5 24 100.3 15 96.6 5 +3.7 8
Spain 7 1 73.0 6 113.2 2 95.9 4 +17.3 1

Pace = Possessions per 40 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

The numbers show that there’s a clear delineation between the top three teams (Spain, Russia and Lithuania) and the rest. But all eight teams deserve to be where they are, finishing pool play in the top nine in point differential.


Did You See What We Saw?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The hump day schedule in the NBA is usually a robust 12 or 13 games deep, but we went with the diet plate (just 10 games) this week.

Lucky for us all, there was no skimping on the action.

Between John Wall‘s triple double, the Bucks’ beatdown of the Hawks, Michael Beasley‘s 42 points in a Minnesota win, David Lee‘s triumphant return to Madison Square Garden and a second straight epic comeback for the Utah Jazz in Florida, our table is loaded with plenty for you to chew on.

So all we have to figure out now is Did You See What We Saw?

The Prime Minister kicks things off with this special report on that Jazz-Magic thriller:


Looking good: Another night with Jerry Sloan‘s comeback kids! The Jazz rode the back of Deron Williams in the third quarter and Al Jefferson down the stretch to rally from an 18-point hole and sweep their annual trip to Florida. In their last five quarters (four regulation, one overtime), Utah outscored its opponents (Miami and Orlando) 153-112. And, as our man Dick Scanlon points out, the Jazz have rallied from 16-, 19- and 10-point halftime deficits in the last four days. Safe to say, the Jazz have this whole comeback-wins thing down.

Sound the Alarm: For Stan Van Gundy‘s bottle of Pepto Bismol, which is surely taking a pounding right now. Unlike when the Jazz beat the Heat two nights ago, Orlando’s lack of killer instinct wasn’t an aberration. Van Gundy was not pleased that after nearly blowing an 18-point lead against the Bobcats two games ago, the Magic didn’t learn from their mistake and totally blew their big lead against Utah. A jingle of the bell, too, for starter Ryan Anderson, whom Van Gundy cited for a lack of effort in his postgame comments.

HT’s Take: Big props for Sloan, who in back-to-back nights made crucial in-game adjustments. One night after the Jefferson-for-Kyrylo Fesenko center swap down the stretch in Miami, he switched to a zone defense in the second half against Orlando. That move flustered Orlando’s shooters and kept Dwight Howard a little more under control, allowing the Jazz to get some stops and sway momentum their way. Jefferson’s little rest in Miami worked out well last night, too, as he nailed a bunch of clutch shots in the post to seal the win.



Looking good: An early 13-point deficit for the Bucks disappeared when the reserves hit the floor. Corey Maggette and Ersan Ilyasova entered the game and promptly turned things upside down. By the time the Bucks’ reserves had finished their first half work they were up 54-40 and the rout was on. The Bucks are finally looking like the team many of us thought they’d be with a healthy Andrew Bogut back in the mix.

Sound the Alarm: The Hawks did that for us. Did you hear what they had to say about their power outage on their home floor? “I don’t understand what happened,” Al Horford said. “When adversity hit us in the face we went our separate ways,” Josh Smith said. Not exactly the sorts of things coach Larry Drew wants to hear from a team that was undefeated as recently as Sunday morning .

HT’s Take: The Bucks weren’t just good last night, they were fantastic once they got going. Like Bucks coach Scott Skiles said, if you get up 30 on the Hawks in their building, you’re doing work. If the Bucks can keep this up, they might look back on this early stretch of the season as the turning point. It certainly helps that Brandon Jennings (19 points and 4-for-5 from deep in the win over the Hawks)  is heating up right now, too.