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Skiles' Bucks might not be pretty, but don't call them slow

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Bob Wolfley has a story today on Jalen Rose's praise for Brandon Jennings, but what made it interesting to me is the continued confusion over what style Skiles likes to play. 

Here's an excerpt from Wolfley's piece, which was based on a conference call Rose and fellow ESPNer Jon Barry had with national media:

"I really like Brandon Jennings," Rose said. "Being how Scott Skiles normally likes to play, where his teams walk the ball up and down the floor, this guy is a blur. He will not only be able to score the ball but really break down defenses and get other teammates involved." 

"For them,  it’s a style-of-play scenario," Rose said. "Scott Skiles is normally the kind of coach who wants to control tempo, play 85-point games. (Jennings’) style of play does not fit that. So I just want to see where the balance is going to lie. Because if they are playing up-tempo, I feel like he is a guy who can really break down a defense and create excitement for a team that is going to struggle to score if they are not playing that way."

No argument about Jennings' ability to play in an up-tempo system.  But hasn't Skiles been around long enough that "experts" should know what kind of game he likes to play?  Apparently not.  Below are the team pace, offensive efficiency, and defensive efficiency rankings of every team Skiles has coached.  Note that I excluded his final season in Chicago when he only coached 25 games, but included the three partial seasons in which he coached most of the year (99/00, 01/02, 03/04):

Year Team Pace Off Def
99/00 Pho 10 16 3
00/01 Pho 6 22 2
01/02 Pho 10 19 12
03/04 Chi 8 29 16
04/05 Chi 11 27 2
05/06 Chi 5 23 7
06/07 Chi 6 21 1
08/09 Mil 11 23 15
Average 8.4 22.5 7.2

 

Notice a pattern?  Skiles teams always play at a fast pace, score inefficiently, and hold down the efficiency of opponents.  Not once has Skiles coached a team that was below average in terms of pace, only once has he coached a team that was in the bottom half in defensive efficiency (just barely, and he didn't coach the whole season), and he's never had a team in the top half in offensive efficiency.  But as is often the case with the casual fan, Rose conflates playing defense and not being efficient offensively with playing a slow, boring brand of basketball. 

Listen to Skiles describe his preferred style of play and the recipe is simple: work hard on defense, prevent second opportunities, push the ball and move it until you get an open shot.  The faster you get the ball up court, the better your chance of getting open shots.  In practice it's not as aesthetically pleasing as the old Suns' "seven seconds or less" style--there's too much focus on defense and not enough on having great shooters--but it's still a quick pace even if it's not a scoring free-for-all.  Given the Bucks' penchant for forcing turnovers, Jennings should have ample opportunity to create in the open court--and you can bet his coach won't be looking to slow him down.