Tag: Scott Skiles

Milwaukee Bucks' Ersan Ilyasova   goes up for a shot against Toronto Raptors' Alan Anderson during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Milwaukee Wisconsin

NBA Season Preview: Milwaukee Bucks


Last season: Abort the mission! New plan! New plan!

The Bucks slammed on the parking brake, wrenched the wheel and Tokyo Drifted in a new direction last season, abandoning the “all defense all the time” team built around Andrew Bogut and giving up on the fleeting hope Bogut will ever, ever be healthy. They swapped him to Golden State for Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh, getting a promising young big man with great advanced metrics and, you know, Monta Ellis.

The results were mixed. They almost made it into the playoffs before their wheels exploded and flew off into the Wisconsin countryside, and while their defense didn’t capitulate with Ellis, their offense continued to run into the gutter.

They limped their way out of a playoff spot and entered the offseason with a huge number of questions about their head coach, front office, and the direction of the franchise.

Key Departures: The Bucks kind of surprisingly traded Jon Leuer, after he’d had a pretty solid year. They also traded Shaun Livingston, who, again, was pretty good last year. They let Carlos Delfino go after hemming and hawing over his contract for three months.

Key Additions: When the Bucks drafted John Henson, it was largely a perplexing move. Another athletic big man with questionable post skills? Really? Really? That’s what you thought you should pull off the pile?

But then Summer League came and Henson showed off a better mid-range jumper than expected and a good ability to flow in the offense. He has great court awareness to go with all that athleticism and could see significant playing time.

They elected to trade for Samuel Dalembert, pushing Udoh, who honestly needs the minutes, to the bench and giving them approximately all of the big men, ever. They added Joel Przybilla just in case the other 1,700 of them fail out, and-re-signed Ersan Ilyasova for the offensive repertoire.

Doron Lamb was quietly a very good second round pickup.

Three keys to the Bucks season:
1) Solving the riddle wrapped in a puzzle disguised as a mystery covered in subterfuge that is Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. The two are just too similar. Ball-dominant, low-playmaking, moderate-efficiency volume scorers who didn’t develop an immediate chemistry. Sometimes these things can work themselves out, but in a lot of cases, it’s evident from the start if it’s going to work. If this thing doesn’t get solved and start to work by January, it might be time to start thinking about another move in another direction. The two were -1.9 on the floor together last year, giving up 107.7 points per 100 possessions. That is not good. They can’t just raise the 105 offensive rating, they have to get the defense sorted out. The Bucks could be looking at a situation not dissimilar to what the Knicks face with Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony.

2) Get the young guys to make some noise. Ekpe Udoh and John Henson need to become the Milwuakee version of Gibson and Asik. Or maybe the more athletic version of that. Either way, they need to make an impact, because the Bucks can’t look at their long-term build as involving Sam Dalembert. Doron Lamb needs to add some value as a shooter. Tobias Harris needs to come up. They need some big jumps from the project guys.

3) Avoid the Skiles Effect. When Skiles takes over a team, there’s a clock that starts. It’s a countdown to when the team tunes him out. It’s happened in his previous stops, and it very well could happen again. If Skiles can manage to massage, not render, the best out of this team, they could very well be a playoff team. But if he loses them, the season, the roster, his job and John Hammond’s will likely be over in Milwaukee.

How it likely works out: I want to belive in Milwaukee. They deserve it, honestly, they do. They’ve had more than their fair share of bad luck and still haven’t been horrible over the past decade. We blame luck on a lot of the awful franchises, but the Bucks have somehow managed to deal with Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut’s injuries and still float within range of the last playoff spot.

And this team has talent. And it’s got a lot of good efficient things going for it. But it needs so many players to make such huge jumps and for Jennings-Ellis to magically solve itself. That simply may not be possible.

I loathe this, but it really looks like another 9th spot in the East year for the Bucks.

Prediction: 40-42. Is there any better representation of “almost… but not quite?”

Scott Skiles to return as Milwaukee coach next season

Scott Skiles

Maybe you can’t picture Scott Skiles effectively coaching a backcourt of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, but Herb Kohl can.

And he’s the owner. The guy writing the check. So they are going to do it.

Skiles will be back for another season as the Bucks head man, reports the Journal-Sentinel.

Scott Skiles confirmed in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon that he will return as Bucks coach for the 2012-’13 season, the final year of his contract…

Skiles led the Bucks to a 31-35 record during the past season and had discussions with team owner Herb Kohl and general manager John Hammond over the last few days.

Skiles had a year added to his contract (next year) after the Bucks made the playoffs in 2010. However, the Andrew Bogut elbow injury changed the trajectory of the franchise, something they tried to right with the Ellis trade.

Skiles is a defensive minded coach and the Bucks were middle of the pack in league defense last year (16th in points per possession). If Skiles can change that (and gets some help with good offseason moves by Hammond), the Bucks could be a playoff team in the East next year. If not, the headline on a similar post may be very different a year from now.

Report: Stephen Jackson, Scott Skiles are pretty much done with each other

Stephen Jackson

From Gary Woelful of RacineSportsZone.com:

After Stephen Jackson was benched for the second half of a game against Denver Jan. 17, I asked the Bucks veteran swingman whether he had any inkling Bucks coach Scott Skiles was going to do that.

Jackson said he didn’t get any advance warning and he didn’t get any explanation after the game, either.

It was abundantly clear even then that Jackson, whom the Bucks acquired from Charlotte last June and was expected to be a key piece to the Bucks’ puzzle this season, wasn’t on the same page with Skiles.

Now, a month later, Jackson’s relationship with Skiles seemingly has disintegrated. In an interview with Rod Burks of Channel 4 (NBC) in Milwaukee, Jackson said: “We don’t have no relationship like I’ve had with other coaches and I don’t expect to have one. Too much stuff has happened.”

Woelful goes on to say that the Bucks would love to unload Jackson, but Jackson’s advanced age, high salary, and low productivity could make that a challenge. Still, the Bucks could send away a talented young player, such as Irsan Ilyasova or even Brandon Jennings, as part of a package deal that would allow the Bucks to unload Jackson, according to “some NBA officials.”

Jackson can create his own shot, pass well, is famously quite fond of pressure, and was a key part of the Golden State Warriors’ thrilling 2007 playoff run. Still, Jackson is 33 years old, and he hasn’t shot better than 42% from the field since the 06-07 campaign in Golden State. A playoff team might be willing to take a flyer on Jackson, but given his years of low efficiency and the baggage he’s currently carrying with him, Skiles and the Bucks might be stuck with Jackson for the foreseeable future.

Brandon Jennings takes aim for the 40-percent mark

Milwaukee Bucks' Brandon Jennings waits to enter the game against Toronto Raptors in the first half of their NBA basketball game in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Yesterday, in a live chat on ESPN.com, Brandon Jennings lobbed an easy-as-pie piece of cake over the plate. He didn’t have to; Jennings had stopped by to pretty clearly shill for Court Grip — the new product which Dwyane Wade plugged so aggressively but a few weeks earlier — and those kinds of advertising tours tend to be very straightforward affairs. But Jennings got just a tad sidetracked in talking about his workout schedule and his goals for next season, and offered up this gem:

Steve (Orlando):

Go Bucks! How many hours a week do you, if at all, practice your 15 foot jump shot. Thanks.

Brandon Jennings  (3:05 PM):

Actually since the lockout, I’ve been in Baltimore working for 3 months straight. I’m going to shoot over 40% this year. This whole three months of the lockout, I’ve been working out 5 days a week in Baltimore.

40 percent. That’s it. Take a moment to get all of the wisecracks out of your system. Just wring out the snark. 40 percent is an incredibly unimpressive target, a number that most NBA players eclipse with even their worst shooting seasons. We know this. Jennings probably does, too, but that didn’t stop him from setting a depressed goal for his own individual performance.

Jennings is still just 21, and he’ll evolve plenty as a player before he even hits his basketball prime. Yet his underwhelming field goal percentage numbers — .371 and .390 in his first two seasons respectively — are a cause for legitimate concern. They’re far from a death sentence for Jennings’ career, but so long as his poor shot selection continues to get the best of him, his NBA potential will be curbed substantially.

To be fair, Jennings has averaged five three-pointers a game in each of his NBA seasons thus far, accounting for nearly a third of his total shot attempts. If we use effective field goal percentage instead of standard field goal percentage, his shooting efficiency looks a bit more respectable, and Jennings actually outshoots John Wall and Russell Westbrook.

Of course, the problem with comparing Jennings to players like Wall and Westbrook is that each has produced in a way that Jennings has not. Wall sees the world in angles, and harnesses them through his own brand of awesome playmaking; he posted an assist rate 10 points higher than Jennings last season, despite JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche attempting to sabotage that number at every turn. Westbrook, on the other hand, was not only a far superior playmaker statistically in his second season, but he got to the line at an elite rate. He curbed his initially low field goal percentage with rapid improvement and a commitment to drawing contact, and those free points — which exist outside of his total field goals attempted and thus his field goal percentage — are a big component of Westbrook’s incredible production.

If Jennings were a better passer, his poor shooting numbers would matter slightly less. If he were committed to getting into the lane (where Jennings has proven himself to be an decently effective finisher), his efficiency numbers would skyrocket. Yet Jennings remains committed to forcing shots he has little chance of making, and hasn’t shown enough growth in the other facets of his game to hedge the problematic influence of his shot selection.

The blame here might not solely be on Jennings (Scott Skiles seems content with players taking long two-pointers, and the Bucks haven’t exactly had a lot of high-level talent outside of Jennings and Andrew Bogut), and that notion makes it worth considering if this alignment of player, team, coach, and system might be damaging to the offensive potential of all parties involved. If Jennings was firing up more shots than normal because of Bogut’s lingering injuries and the offensive limitations of some his teammates, then that’s understandable. But if he’s growing accustomed to shooting once every other minute despite playing for one of the league’s slowest teams as if such a thing were his Basketball Gods-given right, then we could have a bit of a problem. A fair bit of restraint would behoove Jennings, but the Bucks’ system offers structure without the means to prevent him from taking ill-advised shots. Skiles has a reputation for being an oppressive coach, but in his offense Jennings is oddly enabled.

There’s something admirable about an NBAer playing within themselves, and whether due to personal motivations or circumstance, we have yet to see Jennings pull off such a feat. 40 percent would be a nice step in the right direction, but only the slightest step. If Jennings wants to keep pace with his impressively efficient contemporaries, he’ll need to show a fair bit of growth beyond that number.

H/T: Tom Haberstroh.

Report: Greek team makes offer to Corey Maggette

Corey Maggette
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Greek teams were not expected to be big players in the “grab an NBA player during the lockout” game because, well, their country’s economy is so bad it’s sucking half of Europe into the seventh level of hell with it.

But at least one team is making a run.

According to TalkBasket.net (who got it from a Greek sports site), PAOK has made an offer to Corey Maggette. No word on if the Bucks swingman and and-one specialist plans to take them up on their offer. He would need to have an opt-out in the deal as he has two years and $21 million left on his contract.

The report also stats that if PAOK doesn’t get Maggette they have a couple other NBA players in mind. PAOK is one of the bigger names in Greek hoops and guys like Peja Stojakovic, Rasho Nesterovic and even current Bucks head coach Scott Skiles have played for them.