Ilyasova submitted 19 points (7-11 FG, 3-5 3Pt, 2-4 FT), 11 rebounds, one assist and one steal across 24 minutes in Tuesday's 114-109 preseason loss to the Mavericks.
For the third time in as many preseason games, Thunder coach Billy Donovan kept Domantas Sabonis in the starting lineup at power forward, suggesting that he'll likely start over Ilyasova when the regular season begins. However, since Sabonis has offered minimal production in that role thus far in the preseason, it's conceivable that Ilyasova could end up leapfrogging him on the depth chart, or at least see the bulk of the minutes at the position while coming off the bench. As he demonstrated Tuesday, Ilyasova is capable of going off from downtown and attacking the glass every so often, but his maddening inconsistency can make him a frustrating player to own in fantasy. He's gotten off to a nice start to the preseason nonetheless, averaging 12.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.3 three-pointers in 22.6 minutes per game.
Ilyasova came off the bench to play 27 minutes in Monday's 142-137 overtime loss to Spanish club Real Madrid in preseason play. He provided 11 points (3-8 FG, 2-4 3Pt, 2-4 FT), four boards, three assists and one steal.
Ilyasova's minus-17 rating was the worst on the Thunder, as he was on the court for much of the second half, when his team blew a double-digit lead. Still, the veteran's production from the perimeter was encouraging, and while Thunder coach Billy Donovan hasn't said as much, there seems to be a decent possibility that Ilyasova is in the driver's seat for the starting gig at power forward. Ilyasova will have to hold off rookie Domantas Sabonis, who started Monday's game, Enes Kanter and Joffrey Lauvergne for those duties, but his standing as the team's most reliable three-point shooting big man certainly helps his cause.
The Thunder are expected to pick up Ilyasova's $8.4 million team option for the 2016-17 season, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman reports. "We traded for [Ilyasova] because we think he's a good, complementary player to our core players," GM Sam Presti said.
Though Victor Oladipo and No. 11 overall draft pick Domantas Sabonis were the main prizes in last Thursday's four-player trade that sent Serge Ibaka to the Magic, Ilyasova isn't being viewed as a mere throw-in to the deal. It appears the Thunder believe that Ilyasova's ability to stretch the floor and contribute on the boards will make him a viable rotation option, especially if Sabonis is unable to crack the rotation as a rookie. With Ibaka out of town, Ilyasova currently tops the depth chart at power forward, but the Thunder could very well sign a free agent this offseason who would bump Ilyasova to a reserve gig.
Ilyasova was traded Thursday to the Thunder along with Victor Oladipo and the draft rights to No. 11 overall pick Domantas Sabonis in exchange for Serge Ibaka, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports.
The Magic gave up a lot of youth and upside in the form of Oladipo and Sabonis in order to acquire Ibaka, but ridding themselves of Ilyasova's $8.4 million cap hit for the 2016-17 season likely made the organization feel better about the deal. Ilyasova has now been with four organizations in just over a year, but still possesses some usefulness as a power forward who can stretch the floor while providing good energy on the glass. It's unclear if the Thunder view Ilyasova as a viable starting option entering the upcoming season, however, after he struggled for much of the 2015-16 campaign with the Pistons and Magic, averaging 10.4 points and 5.4 rebounds in 25.4 minutes per game while shooting 42.4 percent from the floor and 37.1 percent from three-point range.
Ersan Ilyasova scored a team-high 22 points (10-13 FG, 2-2 3Pt) with six rebounds and three blocks over 37 minutes in Monday's 107-98 win against the Bucks.
Ilyasova drew the start with Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon sidelined, sticking it to his former team with arguably his best scoring performance of the season. The stretch four was a handful for Milwaukee to guard all night, particularly in the paint. Ilyasova should get another start Wednesday against the Hornets, so keep him on your DFS radar as a bargain buy with upside.
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