The 6'9 Ilyasova has a promising frame and athletic ability for a European player his age. Probably his biggest advantage is the fact that hes rather physically developed for his age. He worked a lot on his upper body during his injury, enough to fight for many rebounds on both ends of the floor. Hes frequently used at the Power Forward position, which considering his combination of size, athleticism, balance and body control, creates mismatches on offense.
He has improved his outside shot to the point of becoming a dangerous threat from the outside, easily having range which extends beyond the European three point line. Thanks to a very good first step he also has the ability to create his own shot, being capable of finishing with fade-away jumpers. It also helps him with his penetrations. Hes a pretty good slasher, being fearless and very determined when it comes to going all the way to the basket. Due to his body, he has the possibility to effectively post up his opponents when going up against the competition he has so far. His ability to play inside and outside, and the versatility that comes with that, making him one of the most valuable players in his age group.
Ilyasova's defensive abilities are split. His man to man defense is tremendous and hes fearless trying to get the ball as fast as he can. He has a special feel for defensive rebounds. Both as a Small Forward and a Power Forward he helps a lot in the paint after missed shots. Due to the fact that he is playing more at the Small Forward position he has a big advantage when defending a Power Forward due to his good foot work.
Ilyasova has a good feel for the game, knowing how and when to use his moves and shots. He is very well coordinated on the floor with good ball handling skills. The ability which made him to the most valuable player of the Turkish cadets national team was his leadership. Ilyasova is not afraid of taking shots at any time. On the contrary, you can count on him when the minutes/seconds are running down in the fourth quarter. He does not worry about missed shots; his only thought is to lead his team to a win. Giving him enough minutes against the competition he has played against so far in Europe, he can easily reach a double-double per game with points and rebounds.
The biggest concern about Ilyasova is the fact that he has had major problems staying healthy since arriving on the senior level. His history of injuries, especially to his ankle, is worrying considering his young age.
The second biggest concern about Ilyasova is that he has proven absolutely nothing at the European level at this point in his career. All of his fame has come from playing at the junior level so far, this past year he was either hampered by injuries or stuck on the end of the bench of a deep and ambitious team, so there is really no way to evaluate how well his strengths translate to the senior level when he isnt always the biggest, strongest, athletic or skilled player on the floor. Hes definitely a raw player right now and the team drafting him will need to be patient with him. As is the case with most European teenagers who are drafted into the NBA, he will have to deal with many new adjustments, including a new language (he speaks very little English), culture and style of play.
Despite not being a weak player, his physical development is far from being complete, which is absolutely logical considering how young he supposedly is.
Ilyasovas passing game isnt on par with his great ability to amass scoring and rebounding production. However, considering that he has a good feel for the game, he easily could improve his passing skills.
On the defensive end Ilyasova is already quite good considering his age. But for now there is almost no team defense by Ersan. He is very focused on playing man to man so he often forget to switch and help his teammates. It seems when using a zone that he doesnt feel too comfortable, that the positioning doesnt come intuitively for him, having to think too much. Here, he has to learn to make a quick picture of the opponents play so he can rotate in an effective way.
Weve said that he likes to lead his team and is not afraid of taking big shots, but there is something in his character which he has also to develop. Ersan is a very quite player on the court. Though he is giving signals that he wants the ball during the game, he has to be much more louder. Hes not a vocal leader, though he leads by example.
Finally, there have always been rumblings about the controversy regarding his true age. Some say that he was actually born in 1984, rather than 1987, something that would certainly limit his upside. There is basically no way to confirm or disconfirm those concerns at this point, although it should be noted that he definitely does look closer to 18 years old rather than 21.
After he was loaned to Yesilyurt last season, this year Ilyasova got some (but not many) minutes for Ulker Istanbul. He played more in the Turkish league than in Euroleague games but he also enjoyed some minutes to learn about the level of the second best league in the world. Unfortunately a serious injury before the season cost him valuable months in his developing process, having to settle for a rather marginal contribution when he could have enjoyed a bit of a breakthrough year. As for some stats. you can take his numbers in the Albert-Schweitzer junior tournament as a realistic sign about his dominant level in his group age. With 19.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, he was named MVP of this tournament leading the Turkish team to the title over the Argentinean team.
Without any doubt Ilyasova is a mysterious player for scouts. There are not many discussions about him in the media, as there just isnt much to go off of at this point. You also cannot read many comments coming from him. He is a quiet person, who seems to not have any problems with teammates and coaches. For now, to predict his development seems like a hard task. Looking at his performances so far it's easy to say that he is a promising player but there are too many question marks like his age, injuries etc. He has to play consistently to give a sure opinion about his game. Considering that he wants to declare this year the question is: what position could be realistic for him? For now it seems that he could be a mid-late first round pick. Any team taking him has to be aware that Ilyasova is an investment for the future, an intriguing player with excellent potential, but who cant really draw any expectations about a significant contribution anytime soon.
Whatever the conditions are, the only right thing for Ilyasova would be to stay in Europe for some more years and to gain experience. If he is not sent down to the newly established developmental league to see significant minutes, it would be a waste to go to the NBA so soon as he would only have two years to prove himself before his team would have to decide whether to keep him on the team at his current contract. If he prepares well for another season in Europe, free of any injuries, I'm sure that he will see his expected minutes since his team has finally given some signs of focusing more on young players after another disappointing season in the Turkish League.