Milwaukee Bucks head coach Scott Skiles is constantly under fire for his rotations, but the myth of his alleged minute mismanagement is starting to devour a far less alarming reality. Samuel Dalembert recently joined Chris Douglas-Roberts, Corey Maggette, Ersan Ilyasova (pre-2011-12) and Stephen Jackson in the group of over-the-hill veterans and also-rans who have openly questioned Skiles’ rotations and tendencies. At some point, he will no doubt liberate himself from Skiles and instantly prove to the NBA that he’s a bona fide starter worthy of 35+ minutes per game, just like each member of that League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has done before him.
Sarcasm aside, I think it’s hard to pin too much on Skiles. He’s given teams with very few starting-caliber players and is asked to walk the line between meaningful development of youth and serious pursuit of a playoff berth. I’ve heard he doesn’t play young players, but I’ve also seen that the two best players John Hammond has drafted – Brandon Jennings and Luc Mbah a Moute – have played big minutes since their rookies seasons. Larry Sanders has elevated his level of production and performance this season, and now he’s moving into that same category of preferred players.
Frank and I sat down to discuss where Skiles has gone wrong, and where the mythology of mismanagement has obscured the truth. I suggest the following theory: as fans struggle to square the somewhat contradictory aims of the franchise (the development of youth regardless of short-term outcomes / mistakes vs. a vicious pursuit of a playoff berth in a conference where every win matters with several 7th and 8th seed hopefuls chasing the Bucks), Skiles take the brunt of that anger. He’s asked to do both things at once, when in reality it’s extremely difficult to do just one of those things with a roster of reserve-level talent.
Frank notes that it may be an issue of communication, rather than an issue of improper minute allocation. Skiles isn’t known for transparency or a cheerful disposition, so maybe if he took the time to articulate his decisions with veteran players, these moments of friction wouldn’t pop up so often.
In any case, much has been said about Skiles and the minutes crunch in the past few weeks. Before you get to our take, be sure to check out these noteworthy contributions (reproduced from Frank’s earlier game reviews / notes posts):
- SI | Visualing Scott Skiles' rotations
There's been plenty of talk recently about the Bucks' ever-changing rotations, but Rob Mahoney's latest at Sports Illustrated offers the best way to visualize it. Very cool.
- Hoops World | Bucks' bigs coping with uncertainty
Speaking of the Bucks' rotations, Sam Dalembert is the latest to imply his lack of enchantment with his minutes. Join the club, bud.
"It is not working," Dalembert said. "It's not quite, I thought my role would have been a little bit more. But, like I said it's coaching and everybody is doing their best.
"Everybody just has to be ready when they call their name to produce. We have a lot of guys here and everybody is pretty much in the same place. We're striving for minutes. When we get out there we support each other and the next teammate. We're managing for the time being."
If you're particularly curious about Dalembert, John Henson and Tobias Harris, be sure to check out my lineup analysis posts before pinning the issue on Skiles acting irrationally:
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