- You can probably count on one hand the number of people who watch as much basketball as Yahoo's Kelly Dwyer, so when KD speaks, we listen. This week he's chiming in with an excellent column on the Skiles hiring, a topic KD is particularly worth listening to since he's a Bulls fan.
The newest Milwaukee coach might not do wonders in his first year, but he will improve the team. And in his second year, even with the same rotation (immovable contracts being what they are) that won just 26 games for Skiles’ good friend Larry Krystkowiak, a playoff appearance is likely. Skiles is that good.
And, with time and growth and eventual lottery picks and the guiding hand of a new GM (well-regarded NBA lifer John Hammond) who isn’t married to anyone on Milwaukee’s roster, the Bucks will eventually double up that 26-win mark during Skiles’ term. In fact, move the expected plan up a year and nobody would be surprised that he could have this team in the playoffs next year. Again, he’s that good....
This is not a coach who will see a lavish retirement ceremony some 10 years down the line. Skiles will burn through Milwaukee in four or five years as he did in Phoenix and Chicago before eventually flaming out and moving on. It’s a trademark of certain coaches (Hubie Brown and Doug Collins come to mind) that never seems to go away even as age and a supposedly increased sense of tact takes hold.
It’s a pity, but even a graying leopard can’t change his spots. This doesn’t mean Skiles won’t be successful. He’ll be quite successful because formidable talent and a strong work ethic usually lead people to greatness. Skiles boasts both those qualities. Just beware of the flipside, and the inevitable fallout likely coming in 2012 or so.
- Gery Woelfel cautions that Skiles will need to learn from his often tumultuous stints in Chicago and Phoenix.
At Monday’s press conference at the Bradley Center, Skiles said he was a better coach in Chicago than he was in Phoenix and that he expected to be a better coach in Milwaukee than he was in Chicago. If that is to happen, Skiles will have to tone down his act. He’s going to have to show more restraint. He’s going to have to embrace his players rather than distance himself from them. And, if he doesn’t, the inevitable will likely take place for him — just like it did in Phoenix and Chicago.
- Plenty of good notes in Woelfel's column: the Bucks might have focused on Skiles after being unable to coax a quick decision out of Rick Carlisle, and Hammond will likely add a director of scouting and cap expert soon (good). However, the most intriguing gossip is that Woelfel describes an unnamed player who recently cringed at the thought of Skiles being brought in. The Bratwurst wisely deduces it has to be either Bobby Simmons or Charlie Villanueva, though the word from reliable sources at RealGM is that Simmons has already spoken to Skiles and is working hard to be in better shape for camp. Villanueva's maddening inconsistency and defensive meekness would likely drive Skiles nuts, so given that Villanueva has probably heard plenty about Skiles from his high school teammate Luol Deng and college teammate Ben Gordon, he's the most likely mystery man.
- Jim Paschke offers a terrific story of Scott Skiles' first day at Bucks' training camp in 1986, which happened to be Jim's first season calling Bucks' games. Jim recalls having lunch with the rookie and veteran Jack Sikma, who had been acquired that summer:
I don’t remember what we talked about, but I do remember listening and watching the veteran indoctrinate and make Skiles as comfortable as possible. Jack used humor to open the door. Scott laughed easily and without pretense. I remember being impressed that a former NBA champion would reach out the way Sikma did that day, and also the ease with which Skiles fit into his new life. I was convinced that both guys were perfectly suited to their line of work. I also think that while both men have grown, neither has changed appreciably in the years since. The substance I saw in both on that October day long ago is still very visible.
- Bucks Diary crunches the numbers and says don't be surprised if Skiles produces a winner in year one. I normally love stats, but I can't help but be skeptical about a Bucks team defending--after all, I was only ten years old the last time the Bucks were an above-average defensive team.
If Skiles does it again in Milwaukee next season, one can estimate the result will be about 62.1 defensive half wins. If that is the case, then even if the offense produces the same anemic 26.2 half wins it did this season, the Bucks are still a 44-38 team in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Is this all fanciful theorizing? Can Skiles really come to this barren defensive wasteland and conjure such a dramatic transformation? Given his compelling track record, I believe he can. In fact, the evidence clearly suggests HE WILL... and by no later than year two.
- With all the talk about Skiles not lasting more than four years, The Bob Boozer Jinx notes that would be pretty good considering what we've seen lately.
Wednesday Bucks Notes
By Frank Madden