The Sixers Have Never Had Anyone Like Ersan Ilyasova

Ersan Ilyasova is doing things that Philadelphia 76ers fans aren’t used to seeing at the power forward position. Is his play something that the city should start getting used to?

On November 1, 2016, the Philadelphia 76ers traded Jerami Grant for Ersan Ilyasova and a protected first-round pick. At the time, many process trusters viewed the deal as a public relations move and something that’s much too short-sighted.

Grant was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2014 NBA Draft and always provided much more impact on the game than his landing spot in the draft would tell you. With this said, though, his efficiency on offense was always a concern in Philadelphia. Recently, with the Oklahoma City Thunder, his shooting numbers have improved to 49.3 percentage from the field and 42.2 from beyond the arc.

Grant was never able to reach that type of consistency with the 76ers, but Ilyasova has, and it could be said that the Sixers have never had another power forward like him.

In the month of December, the stretch-four from Turkey averaged 16.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and his field goal and 3-point percentages were 47.0 and 40.0 respectively. He is also second in the NBA to the Los Angeles ClippersMarreese Speights in charges taken with 16.

Since the 2002-2003 season, there have been three power forwards on the Sixers that have had comparable impacts to their team’s success. Here are their best statistical seasons with the Sixers:

  •  2002-03: Keith Van Horn – 15.9 points (48.2 FG%, 36.9 3P%), 7.1 rebounds, 74 games played
  •  2005-06: Chris Webber – 20.2 points (43.4 FG%, 27.3 3P%), 9.9 rebounds, 75 games played
  •  2013-14: Thad Young – 17.9 points (45.4 FG%, 30.8 3P%), 6.0 Rebounds, 79 games played

In regards to the term stretch-four, Keith Van Horn was ahead of his time, shooting 36.1-percent from beyond the 3-point arc over his career at 6 feet and 10 inches tall. The Sixers only had him for one season and it was after his prime, which was spent with the New Jersey Nets.

Being that Chris Webber’s offensive game was low-post heavy and Thad Young just isn’t a threat from three, it would feel like a first if the Sixers decide to keep a 3-point shooting big for more than one season.

In today’s NBA, having a front court filled with players able to stretch the floor is undeniably valuable. It’s not a coincidence that the pairing of Joel Embiid and Ilyasova has been so effective. It’s also not a mystery why the offense looks so much different when Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel are on the floor.

Dario Saric, who is shooting 35.1-percent from deep, is also symbolic to the way the NBA is going. So, it’ll be interesting to see where Ilyasova will be next year with regards to his position and team.

Unless Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel magically learn to shoot 3-pointers overnight, Ilyasova is someone the Sixers should not let go of.

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