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Skiles: Brandon Jennings' leadership "a work in progress"

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Skiles and Jennings have their work cut out for them in 2011/12.
Skiles and Jennings have their work cut out for them in 2011/12.

JS: Skiles admits leadership void
Wednesday saw Scott Skiles accepting blame for the Bucks' disappointing 35-47 season, and on Thursday he didn't mince words when addressing the Bucks' lack of locker room leadership. Tom Enlund's whole piece is a must-read, but the part that will probably draw the most attention is Skiles' assessment of Brandon Jennings' leadership.

"I would not assume that Brandon has any of those abilities yet…just because he has the ball in his hands all the time," said Skiles. "It’s something we constantly talk about. It’s something he’s trying to work towards but it doesn’t come naturally to him so it’s definitely a work in progress."

On the one hand it's hardly shocking to hear that a 21-year-old on a losing team needs work as a leader, but the bit about leadership not coming "naturally" to Jennings seems a bit...harsh? Not that it's necessarily untrue, as Skiles knows better than any of us what Jennings was like in the locker room, in practice, etc. And while you can argue that Jennings has all the confidence and natural talents necessary to earn his teammates' respect, he didn't help his cause by letting his frustrations become a bit too public on at least a couple of occasions. But there's a fine line between telling it like it is, motivating a guy to get better, and making him look bad. Whether Skiles navigated that gray area appropriately is debatable.  

Either way there's plenty of blame to go around. Though they were role players on the court, Kurt Thomas and Jerry Stackhouse were widely acknowledged as key guys in the locker room for the 46-win team a year ago, but neither was re-signed over the summer as the Bucks clearly hoped that their young building blocks Andrew Bogut and Jennings would grow into more active roles on and off the court. Judging by the Bucks' record that didn't happen, but as Skiles notes, critiquing leadership from the outside is an inexact science at best and pure speculation at worst. Still, in hindsight it seems clear that the Bucks should have made re-signing Thomas more of a priority, particularly after watching him play such a valuable role for the Bulls all year.

But pinpointing the real source of the leadership problem is a speculative effort. Did co-captains Bogut and Keyon Dooling not do enough, or was it everyone else who didn't follow their lead? Everyone looks bad when the team is losing, and it's worth remembering that not until the notoriously quiet Salmons showed up with 30 games left did the Bucks get things together a year ago.

Woelfel: Skiles takes his share of blame for Bucks' struggles
Speaking of Skiles' communication skills, Gery Woelfel notes that not everyone was thrilled with them throughout the season. 

Some Bucks quietly complained about Skiles' poor communication skills and how he didn't keep them in the loop about their roles.

Some players also didn't particularly care for Skiles' direct, sometimes brusque criticism of their play. And others felt he was stubborn in his ways and needed to be more flexible. 

Bucksketball: CD-R is on his way out of Milwaukee
And speaking of guys not thrilled with Scott Skiles: Jeremy offers up a comprehensive review of Chris Douglas-Roberts' time in Milwaukee, which judging by our comments section might have seen him emerge (improbably) as the Bucks' most polarizing figure of the year. OK, so it wasn't so much CD-R himself who was all that polarizing; rather, he was just the lightning rod for our weekly debates about Skiles' rotations and the fairness/unfairness thereof. 

For the record, I'm with Jeremy on the CD-R issue. And I'd also argue Corey Maggette--you know, the only guy on the team who was a productive scorer this season--had a far more legitimate claim for regular burn than Douglas-Roberts. 

Bucks.com: 2010-11 Postseason Quotes
The aforementioned Skiles quotes came during the post-season media session last week, and you can find a bunch more quotes over at Bucks.com. Among other, Bogut offers a bit more detail about his surgery last week:

"It should definitely get me a little bit more pain-free than it was this season. I’ve got a jar full of loose bones that they’ve taken out of my arm. I had six incisions- six separate incisions. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be better than it was; how much better, I’m not sure. Apparently when I was under anesthesia, the surgeon said he had my arm going in all directions. I had full mobility under anesthetics so that’s a good sign. Hopefully when rehab starts, I can get back to that."

Good to hear.  And also: gross.

ESPN: Don't believe the labor hype?
There's been no shortage of doom and gloom about a possible lockout this summer, but Chris Sheridan has a must-read piece on why a long labor stoppage may not be the certainty many have painted it to be. A sampler:

In the owners' first formal proposal, the one made back in 2009, they asked for an $800 million reduction in player salaries. Silver would not characterize how much movement the owners will be making in their next proposal, only saying that the league is seeking a system in which all 30 teams have a chance to compete for a championship and make a profit.

But they don't need an $800 million reduction in player salaries to achieve that goal, so as we look toward the end game of this negotiation, we have to start wondering how much of that $800 million the owners will settle for as an alternative to shutting down the league. $200 million? $300 million? Something in between?

A number of Bucks players were among those talking pessimistically last week, but keep in mind the source. I'm guessing the players are all under orders to talk tough about their preparedness for a long work stoppage, a reasonable tactic given the tenor of the negotiations over the last year. 

Courtside Analyst: Milwaukee Bucks Meta Wins and Losses Produced
Ty offers a Bucks summary of wins produced-style metrics.

The three metrics agree on two fundamental things:  the Bucks biggest win producer this season was Andrew Bogut, and the Bucks biggest loss producer was John Salmons.