It’s going to take a little bit of time to get Ersan Ilyasova up to speed on all things Utah Jazz.
That’s not a problem though. The way that the Jazz and their newest addition to the team see it, they have plenty of time to get him comfortable with the Jazz’s system, and more importantly, for the Turkish veteran to build some chemistry with the team.
The Jazz have been one of the few teams this year that was able to rely on their chemistry from the outset of the season. Tinkering with that chemistry is not something that anyone in the organization takes lightly, from vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey and general manager Justin Zanik to head coach Quin Snyder and each of the players.
“I don’t think Dennis and Justin and our group would have looked at someone that you couldn’t plug and play,” Snyder said on Thursday. “I think one thing we’ve been really conscious of is the chemistry of the team. ... Ersan knows that he wants to be part of that. That’s the reason that we thought it made as much sense as it did.”
With the Jazz needing to fill the empty roster spot by March 10 to have the league minimum 14-players, Ilyasova was a no-brainer. He has plenty of playoff experience, he’s a versatile defender who can switch and shoot the ball and the fact that Zanik was once Ilyasova’s agent didn’t hurt.
After clearing the league’s COVID-19 protocols, Ilyasova was able to practice for the first time with the Jazz on Thursday and said that what he saw was exactly what he was expecting.
“My first practice I see it’s a great group of guys,” he said. “The communications is there and they trust each other.”
Snyder knows that Ilyasova will be kind of chomping at the bit to make a place for himself in the rotation and there’s certainly going to be an opportunity for that down the line, but there won’t be any rush.
“I think he’s anxious to contribute in any way that he can,” Snyder said. “We don’t expect him to show up and be ready to go right away. That’s not to say that he won’t be in many senses, but there’s an adjustment period, and we’re patient with him. I want him to be patient with himself.”
For Ilyasova, he’s seen what the Jazz have been able to accomplish this season and can envision himself fitting in once he gets acclimated to everything. He likes the fast-paced style that the Jazz play, that there’s no hesitation with the ball on the 3-point line and that everyone seems to be playing for one another rather than themselves.
“I watched the games even before and I think the way they play, you know the chemistry is at a high level so it’s the kind of team you want to be a part of moving forward,” Ilyasova said. “This is the great opportunity. When you see the way they play — share the ball, move the ball, everybody kind of backs each other — I think this is what it takes to win a championship.”
It’s just one practice and it’s early in his time with the Jazz. There are a lot of games left to be played and a lot of learning to be done.
There’s certainly some competition at his position with Georges Niang already having worked for a long time to earn his minutes, but there will be times when situationally it might make more sense to have someone more experienced on the floor. And, with the tightened schedule through the second half of the season, depth is not something to be disregarded.
Ilyasova is ready to put in the work and he’s also very aware of what it’s going to take to become a real part of this Jazz team.
“It’s all about the chemistry, and I feel really positive,” he said.