Posts Tagged ‘Scott Skiles’

Ilyasova Still Searching For His Game

In spite of can be a good thing, if the outcomes are happy even when the inputs are sad. And for a while, the Milwaukee Bucks were doing just fine in spite of Ersan Ilyasova.

But Milwaukee’s 6-2 start was turned into a 6-4 mark after road losses this week at Charlotte and at Miami. Now the Bucks face a home-and-home test against their Central Division rivals, the Chicago Bulls. And Ilyasova is running out of cover, it not quite time.

He was, after all, a big-expenditure guy for a team that doesn’t make big expenditures readily. Milwaukee re-signed Ilyasova when he hit free agency, committing to the 6-foot-9 forward in a five-year, $40 million deal. It was based as much on potential as performance, earned by what Ilyasova did last season (enough of a bump in scoring, rebounding and 3-point accuracy to finish second in Most Improved balloting) and by the promise that held with him in a bigger role.

Trouble is, Ilyasova’s role so far in 2012-13 is smaller, not bigger. His impact is too, according to Charles F. Gardner’s story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Ilyasova’s numbers are way down across the board through the first 10 games, all as a starter. He is shooting 31.3% overall and just 25% from three-point range and 42.9% on his free throws. He is playing 22.5 minutes per game and averaging 6.3 points and 4.7 rebounds.

In 60 games last season he played 27.6 minutes per game and averaged 13 points and 8.8 rebounds while shooting 49.2% overall.

“The main thing is I can’t find my rhythm yet,” Ilyasova said. “We’ve got a lot of big guys. Coach has tried a lot of rotations. It’s not the same as it was last year.

“We had just three or four guys last year and we knew our minutes. It was kind of stable.”

The Bucks, particularly coach Scott Skiles, aren’t about to apologize for stiffer competition up front. They were seriously undermanned last season after center Andrew Bogut got hurt in January and traded in March, and with added size have boosted their rebounding and shot-blocking production. Larry Sanders, Samuel Dalembert, Ekpe Udoh and rookie John Henson have pushed Drew Gooden, the veteran thrown into duty at center in Bogut’s absence, completely to the bench. Meanwhile, Ilyasova shooting and bouts of tentativeness have him spending more time there, too.

It’s early still, and Ilyasova – never the most forceful at asserting himself – might grow his game with a few encouraging stats lines. For the moment, though, he is in that funky class of player such as Chicago’s Carlos Boozer and Indiana’s Roy Hibbert (to name only two) who gets paid more yet produces less. The season unspools too quickly to wait around for guys like that, and even when their coaches seem to forget about them, their team’s fans generally don’t.

And if the team falters, in spite of can become an ugly because of rather quickly.

Guy Behind East’s Player Of Week? Bucks’ Dunleavy





Milwaukee point guard Brandon Jennings was named Monday 2012-13’s first winner of the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award. Which probably doesn’t happen without his buzzer-beating 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds left against Cleveland Saturday. Which definitely doesn’t happen without teammate Mike Dunleavy’s pinpoint inbounds pass to Jennings near the top of the arc.

So how ’bout a little credit?

“I’ve thrown a few of those in my career,” Dunleavy said, laughing, Monday after Bucks practice and treatment. “It’s about 10 percent of the work. The other 90 percent is the guy making the shot. It was kind of him to put it in. I was just standing there out of bounds, kind of mesmerized.”

Jennings’ numbers to earn POW: 17.0 points, 13.0 assists and 4.0 steals per game in Milwaukee’s 2-0 start. But take a look at Dunleavy’s: 18.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals, while shooting 70.6 percent from the field and 87.5 percent (7-of-8) from the arc. Against the Cavs, he had 29 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.

His PER, as a measure of overall efficiency: 34.2. Jennings? 28.5. The average NBA player checks in at 15.0.

Two games is a puny sample size. Multiply it by 41 before we start talking of Dunleavy’s across-the-board numbers in the same terms of Larry Bird‘s or Kevin Garnett‘s. His offensive rating of 149.9 — an estimate of points produced per 100 possessions, according to Basketball-Reference.com — is crazy good. Heading into Monday’s games, it was third-highest in the league, behind Minnesota’s J.J. Barea (156.3) and Miami’s Ray Allen (149.9). (more…)

Bucks’ ‘Young Money’ All Grown Up?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – For a player whose name alone stirred as much debate as it did four years ago, it’s stunning how silent folks are now that Brandon Jennings is seemingly all grown up (or at least well on his way).

All of the critics who questioned his motives and at-the-time controversial decision to skip college for a year, instead pursuing his professional hoop dream in Italy, have disappeared. It’s been a steady climb for Jennings, who has done nothing but improve his game year after year, from a rough start in Italy to being drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 10th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft the next year, to now.

Has he grown enough on and off the court for the Bucks to cement his future in Milwaukee with a contract extension before the Oct. 31 deadline? That remains to be seen.

But with days left before a decision has to be made, Jennings would become a restricted free agent at the end of this season if there is no extension, the topic is on the minds of some. Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times raised the question to Jennings, who has more pressing matters on his mind these days, namely making sure he and backcourtmate Monta Ellis return the Bucks to the playoffs:

Jennings has repeatedly said he’s content in Milwaukee and would welcome being with the Bucks for the long haul. Signing an extension would virtually assure that.

But Jennings said he isn’t the least bit worried if an extension can’t be worked out.

Asked if his contract situation was weighing on his mind, Jennings said, “No, because at the end of the day, everything will work out. All I can do is go between the lines and play basketball every day.’’

(more…)

Pressure Growing For Jennings, Bucks

HANG TIME, TEXAS – Coming off their impressive run to the NBA championship, LeBron James and his Heat teammates are undoubtedly in the firing line with every team from Oklahoma City to New Jersey to a pair of them in Los Angeles taking aim at that title.

The Lakers, reloaded and rejuvenated with the additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, are back in their familiar place in the spotlight.

The Knicks, as usual, are in the glare of the media capital and once more under the unrealistic and misguided notion that they can turn the clock back to 1973.

But as we tiptoe through the calendar toward the opening of training camps, there might not be a team sitting collectively in the heat of the frying pan as the Bucks.

Consider that point guard Brandon Jennings has not yet signed a contract extension, while coach Scott Skiles and general manager John Hammond are also entering the final year of their contracts.

None of those facts have gone unnoticed on a team that has missed the playoffs the past two years, as Jennings noted to Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“To be honest, I think everybody is (feeling pressure),” Jennings said. “We’re all on the bubble right now,  because we need to win. There’s going to be a lot of pressure on all of us, not just the coaching staff or the GM. We all know this could be it so we need to turn it around right now.” (more…)

A Dramatic Change From The Bucks





NEW YORK – In one of the most important games of the season, the New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks combined for 43 turnovers and 36 percent shooting. It was a gruesome display, and somewhat emblematic of this crazy and often ugly season. It was not, however, emblematic of the way the Bucks have played this year.

Really, these are not the win-ugly, lose-ugly Bucks that we’ve come to know and love over the last couple of years. Yes, Scott Skiles is still the coach. But this year, his team isn’t very good defensively. It’s getting by mostly with offense. Hard to believe, I know.

Bucks efficiency under Scott Skiles

Season W L Pace Rank OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank
2008-09 34 48 95.2 11 103.8 23 104.9 15 -1.2 19
2009-10 46 36 94.0 21 102.0 23 100.9 3 +1.0 15
2010-11 35 47 92.1 25 99.0 30 99.9 4 -1.0 17
2011-12 22 27 95.8 6 101.7 17 103.0 20 -1.3 22

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

No team has increased its pace from last season more than the Bucks. No team has improved more offensively. And no team has regressed more defensively.

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Blogtable: Most Impactful Recent Trade

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Not counting Dwight staying in Orlando, what recent move at the trade deadline will make the most difference this year?

Steve Aschburner: Milwaukee adding Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh. The Bucks already were rolling, winning four in a row before adding the two Golden State acquisitions to their rotation, but now they’ve made it six. That infusion of talent where there was none – Andrew Bogut was forever in the trainers room, Stephen Jackson in the doghouse – and what coach Scott Skiles will do with it over the final month trumps, for me, a temporary Woodsonity bump in New York. One caveat: Milwaukee had better start playing defense not just like a Skiles team but like a playoff team, period. And that won’t be easy with an Ellis-Brandon Jennings backcourt.

Fran Blinebury: It certainly didn’t make a lot of coast-to-coast headlines, but the Spurs pulling the wild and crazy Stephen Jackson back into the fold gives them another scorer and makes them a tougher out in the playoffs.  Coach Gregg Popovich would much rather deal with Capt. Jack’s idiosyncrasies than Richard Jefferson‘s disappearing act.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Stephen Jackson will be a boost, in energy and play, to the Spurs. And he will not be a problem, not going back to an organization he loved being part of before and not being reunited with a coach he respects. Plus, San Antonio will save about $11 million in the deal, at the cost of a first-round pick that will probably be in the 20s. (more…)

Let The Trade Deadline Madness Begin





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks kicked off this trade deadline season with a bang, agreeing tonight on a five-player deal that will send guard Monta Ellis, forward Ekpe Udoh and center Kwame Brown to Milwaukee for center Andrew Bogut and guard Stephen Jackson. The deal, first reported by Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, was also confirmed by TNT’s David Aldridge

If the magnitude of this first move is any indication — Bogut was the No. 1 pick in the 2005 Draft, Ellis is one of the league’s top scorers and Jackson, despite his issues with Bucks coach Scott Skiles, remains one of the league’s most dynamic backcourt performers when he’s playing in an environment he likes — we could be in for a wild ride the next 24 hours.

Ellis has been the subject of trade rumors in Golden State for the past three seasons, with the reasoning being as nuanced as his game. Bottom line, just like Bogut and Jackson (who had expressed their own desires to be shipped out of Milwaukee from whatever restrictions they felt Skiles’ system placed upon their respective games), Ellis is being moved at his own behest.

The only problem? You can bet Ellis didn’t have the Bucks at the top of his list, not with the chatter about him joining Dwight Howard in Orlando heating up in recent days. The addition of Ellis also raises questions about Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, whose name has also surfaced in trade rumors in the past few weeks. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported yesterday that the Bucks don’t have any plans on moving Jennings, which should make some chemistry issues down the stretch this season for Skiles with an Ellis-Jennings backcourt.

Jackson presented a unique set of challenges, same as he always has for whoever is coaching him. A backcourt with two offensive-minded guys like Ellis and Jennings should be as exciting as any combo in the league, but will they defend the way Skiles demands?

We’ve got it covered for you from every angle …

(more…)

Trade Chatter: Trying To Make Sense Of The Annual Trade Deadline Mess





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We’re getting close to crunch time, trade deadline style.

The amount of faulty information that permeates every corner of the basketball universe this time of year is off the charts and has been known to infect even the most responsible of observers.

And that means more names, more rumors and in turn, more foolishness for us all to sort through.

Hawks forward Josh Smith was added to the list of players that have gone on record as asking for a trade request, joining his good friend and the best man in his wedding, Dwight Howard (he was last season destroying the Chicago Bulls on TNT last night). Another member of Smith’s wedding party, groomsman Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics, has also seen his name surface, disappear and resurface again in trade talks at least a dozen different times this season.

This notion that Smith and Rondo could be swapped for each other is laughable, when you consider that they played together their senior season at Oak Hill Academy and have been tight ever since. If anything, it makes sense for them to be lobbying to play together (in Boston?) as opposed to being traded for one another.

But that’s just more fuel for the trade-deadline rumor fire.

One thing is clear, Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard probably won’t be teammates anywhere else but All-Star weekend (provided Howard remains in the Eastern Conference) and at the Olympics.

They both expressed their opinions on the trade deadline drama. Rose has had enough of it all, by the way, telling the Chicago Tribune:

“It definitely is getting old,” Rose said of being asked about Howard. “I’m sick and tired of hearing it. Chicago, marketing-wise is a great city. If someone chooses to come here, they definitely could.

“But I’m cool with the teammates I have. We have a winning record. It ain’t like we need to change anything. It’s not up to me. It’s up to the front office.”

There are zero indications Howard will add the Bulls to his list of teams with which he would sign an extension or that the Bulls are pursuing him.

“If it’s not about the Bulls, I really couldn’t care less about it,” Rose said.

Howard sounded off as well, citing the weather and other issues as to why Chicago isn’t on his preferred list, telling the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Nah, it’s pretty cold here,’’ Howard said when asked about the Bulls rumors.

Nothing says warrior-poet like a player who doesn’t want to chase a ring because of lake-effect snow.

As far as playing alongside the league’s 2010-11 MVP, Howard again couldn’t help but let his true colors shine through.

“I don’t think there’s a player in the NBA who wants to be a nobody,’’ Howard said. “I think everybody wants to be that guy to take the last shot, be that guy that everybody is leaning on for whatever reason, and I don’t think there’s any problem with wanting to be that guy. I’ve been that guy for this team since I’ve been here.’’

Well, that takes care of that!

(more…)

Time To Earn For Bucks’ Ersan





MILWAUKEE – Forward Ersan Ilyasova has been on a tear for the Milwaukee Bucks – enough of one, in fact, that there might be interest in him at the NBA’s fast-approaching trading deadline (though Ilyasova will be an unrestricted free agent come July).

The 6-foot-10 power forward from Turkey, still just 24, had averaged 17.1 points and 11.7 rebounds over his last 10 games heading into Milwaukee’s clash vs. Chicago Wednesday night at Bradley Center. He had an active streak of 25 consecutive games with at least one offensive rebound, and he had boosted his 3-point shooting from 29.8 percent last season to 37.3 percent.

A week before the All-Star Game, Ilyasova went for 29 points and 25 rebounds against New Jersey, just the third player in franchise history to log a 25/25 game. In 37 appearances, he had three games with at least 20 points and had led the Bucks on the boards 19 times, compared to four and 11 times respectively in 60 games last season.

Granted, there are more rebounds to be had, with Andrew Bogut out again. But Ilyasova is free of the concussion troubles that cost him 20 games last season and he has improved his focus on the glass and his overall play. It’s safe to say that Ilyasova -– a bargain playing near the end of a three-year, $7 milllion contract -– will get a big raise somewhere this summer, though he has a nice comfort zone in Milwaukee.

“He’s rebounded the ball at a great rate pretty much the whole season,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said before Wednesday’s game. “And he doesn’t take as many ill-advised threes, and that’s had a very positive effect on his game. He’s gone from a 25-to-27 percent 3-point shooter to a plus-35 percent 3-point shooter in large part because he takes good ones now. He’s not running around searching for the line as so many guys do. If he finds it and he’s behind it and his feet are set, he lets it go. Otherwise … from 12-18 feet, when his feet are set, he’s a high-level shooter. He’s kind of found his areas there.”

Was it hard to sell Ilyasova on this more disciplined, higher percentage approach?

“No,” Skiles said bluntly. “He’s in his contract year.”

Comings And Goings At All-Star Break

The All-Star Game is about the stars, of course, but the All-Star break is about shooting stars, going in opposite directions. Once again, we see teams, players, coaches and general managers either enjoying a surge or suffering from stagnation.

Therefore, he’s a quick look at who’s going up and down heading into the break.

On the rise

* The Knicks: Forget the loss at home to the Nets; the Knicks have time to work on their chemistry issues and enter the playoffs (yes, they’re going) as an intriguing team. It’s all due, of course, to Jeremy Lin, the discovery of the decade, although now we’ll see how Carmelo Anthony gets with the program.

* Tony Parker’s Hall of Fame credentials. Seriously, he’ll have to be considered for Springfield someday. He has a few championships, a Finals MVP, All-Star appearances (including one this weekend), remarkable career consistency across the board and is enjoying a fine season (20 points, eight assists). Plus he’s only 29. Seems like he’s been around forever, but then, star players are like that. (more…)