Yes, Ersan has drawn more offensive fouls than anyone in the past 10 years (and he does other things, too)
If the Bucks go and do something really extreme in the next few years and win a championship (Giannis will be 26 and likely in the prime of his prime in June of 2021, in what will be the third of three years of Ersan’s contract, if they pick up the final year), I am sure the team will come up with an artistic unveiling of the team, to be installed at the Forum.
Short of hitting a game-winner in the Finals, Ersan will not have a life-sized statue erected in his likeness. But he will have something depicting him, and that something has to be of him doing one of two things, in order to make it most representative of him as a player. He has to be shown either a) tipping a rebound, in to the basket or, preferably, out to the perimeter to a teammate, or b) drawing a charge.
Ever since Ersan came back to the NBA in 2009–10 (the Fear The Deer season) following a couple years in Spain, he has ranked in the top 10 in the league in charges drawn each year, while leading the league three times.
Offensive Fouls Drawn — Ersan NBA Rank
So far this season, my source (well, NBAMiner), has not updated the leaderboard, but according to Stats.NBA.com, Ersan is tied for eighth in the league in charges drawn. And that — drawing charges — is his specialty, but Ersan consistently rates among the league leaders in drawing offensive fouls that are not specifically charges, as well. Think pushoffs, elbows, things like that. It ain’t one trick.
All in all, Ersan has drawn 464 offensive fouls in his career (entering this season, that is). Two seasons ago, in 2016–17, he led the league with a career-high 63. In all likelihood, he will pass 500 for his career this season.
Cute story! You say. But this is not a season for cute stories. The Bucks just dismantled the defending champs at their place. They are the only team in the league to have beaten the Raptors. They have a top-five offense and top-five defense. By some reasonable measures (point differential), they have been the best team in the NBA.
Ersan won 23 straight regular season games spanning the end of last year (16 with the Sixers) to the beginning of this year (seven with the Bucks), and his team did not win those 23 games because of him, but it was not purely random, totally coincidental either. He spreads the floor, operates as an ideal role player, and helps maintain defensive coherence. This season, the Bucks rank third in the league in defensive rating (103.1); with Ersan on the court, they have been significantly better (97.1) than even that.
What I mean is, he helps.
Take the fourth game of the year. The Sixers got off to a fast start, going up 19–8. In the next minute-plus, Ersan put on a distinctly Ilyasovian clinic.
First, he grabbed a defensive board. Then on the other end, he hit Dario Saric with an Ersan version of a hesi and drove in for a slow-mo finger roll.
On the next offensive possession, he tipped a missed Henson three to Middleton.
Then he picked off a pass from Ben Simmons.
Then, he drove Saric mad by stepping in and taking this charge.
This all happened in a shade over a minute. It may go down as my favorite minute of the regular season. The ‘player x has a high basketball IQ’ thing is overplayed in general, but goodness. Oh and the Bucks took that double-digit Sixers lead and turned it into a blowout win.
Look at the box score and here is what you see from Ersan that night: 1–2 shooting with three points in 15 minutes. The Bucks did not win because of Ersan (Giannis, Middleton, and Lopez were particularly excellent on this night, as they are), but he sure was on the Bucks again and not the Sixers anymore.