International Appeal: What Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova Bring to the Sixers
The Sixers recently found themselves as buyers in the buyout market for the first time in years. They came away will a solid haul in veteran shooters Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli without giving up a single asset (sorry, Trevor Booker). Let’s take a dive into what these players can offer a Philly team looking to make a playoff push.
Both players offer veteran shooters yet at differing positions. Ilyasova is primarily a back-up stretch four or small ball center if you think defense is as boring as most do – come on, admit it. Belinelli can complement the bench as a wing shooter. These two players will do just that – bolster a Sixers bench that has been up and down throughout the year. Having a secondary creator in Marco and a reliable flopper, er, shooter in Ersan will convey a sense of confidence when Joel Embiid lays on the court next to the bench.
Belinelli has been up and down so far with the Sixers, after dropping 17 points in a huge comeback win against the Heat, he has struggled with shot selection while get roasted on the defensive end. The Sixers have shifted to an early entry for him in recent games, essentially supplanting JJ Redick’s shooting and cool tattoos for Belinelli’s. This has yielded mixed results as the Italian seems somewhat unfamiliar with the starting lineup struggling to pick his spots at the expense of the offense in some regards. This also has thrown TJ McConnell’s rotations a little out of whack as the backup point guard was the first substitution off the bench. Yet, it’s not all gloom and doom for Marco as his shooting and playmaking have opened up more looks for Embiid while allowing Ben Simmons to be a lane-filler in transition, giving the team unique looks on the offensive end.
The Sixers are by far the most bizarrely, hilarious team in the league; from Dario’s everything, to cutting Booker after trading a second round pick for him, to giving remarkably huge one year deals. Ersan Ilyasova being signed back after being traded last season is just the next act up in this NBA comedy special. Yet, it’s as humorous as it is useful as Ersan had a fairly solid run as a starter for the Sixers last year. He offered a floor-spacer for Joel Embiid and Dario Saric while as well as being someone who was largely unafraid to get a shot up, for better or worse. Having that shooter at the four-position allows the Sixers to play a true four out line-up, providing a dynamic matchup distinct from what Ben Simmons or Richaun Holmes give at that position. 15-20 minutes off the bench of Ilyasova should prove beneficial for a Sixers bench that could tick upwards for the remainder of the season.
Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova were terrific pickups in the buyout market, both as veteran shooters and potential dynamos in a Philly buddy-cop movie. The Sixers should look to maximize what they can bring as bench pieces, giving that necessary stability that true contenders seem to have. In doing so, they give themselves the best chance to make a run for a top four seed in the East and a real play off push.