The transformation has been nothing less than stunning.
After a rather shaky start, Ersan Ilyasova's season has suddenly and dramatically turned around.
The 25-year-old Ilyasova, who signed a four-year, $31.6 million contract over the summer — with a team option for $8.4 million for the 2016-'17 season — sputtered out of the gate this season.
His production was down and so were his minutes. Then Bucks coach Scott Skiles seemingly had little faith in him. In fact, during the 32 games Skiles coached the Bucks this season, he played Ilyasova more than 27 minutes on just four occasions. Furthermore, there were 15 games — or virtually half of them — in which Ilyasova played 22 or fewer minutes.
Ilyasova didn't publicly express his disdain, but there was little doubt he was unhappy. His perpetual glum demeanor spoke volumes.
Ilyasova had a different look on his face on Jan. 8, though. That's when the Bucks hierarchy fired Skiles and replaced him with his top assistant Jim Boylan.
It didn't take long for Boylan to have some frank discussions with his players.
"I told Ersan we have a strong backcourt, but we need more than that," Boylan said. "We need guys up front contributing. Larry Sanders is doing what he does well and Ersan needs to do what he does best and that's making his perimeter shots, stretching the floor, being active on the glass and playing with a lot of heart and desire. Ersan can do all those things."
Ilyasova's forte, though, is shooting. He can be a lethal shooter on the perimeter. But his shot wasn't falling early in the season and it was apparent Ilyasova's confidence took a dip as well.
Boylan addressed the issue, giving Ilyasova a pep talk in an attempt to get him back on track.
"I told Ersan I have a lot of confidence in him when he's taking his shots," Boylan said. "I have no problem with them, whether they go in or they don't."
Coaching change does wonders for Ilyasova
Racine Journal-Times | Jan 28