Milwaukee’s Skiles already NBA coach of the year


By Jake McCormick

The NBA’s coach of the year resides in a city known more for beer, brats and baseball than basketball. But that’s just one reason Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles deserves the award.

Andrew Bogut has has a career year and is coming into his own as an above average center and team leader. Brandon Jennings started hot, but has cooled to rookie temperature while playing more of a true point guard role. John Salmons was arguably the best trading deadline pick-up in the Eastern Conference, and the Bucks’ bench has been one of the best in the league all year. Skiles is just the glue holding, and reinforcing, everything that has made Milwaukee the biggest surprise in the East.

2010 has been very, very good to Milwaukee
Since hitting a 15-21 low point on January 13, Milwaukee has charged head first into the home stretch with an 18-8 record. Their current 33-29 mark is good for the current fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, and it isn’t unreasonable to think they can hold onto it until Tax Day. Thanks to the underrated moves by GM John Hammond to bring in Jerry Stackhouse and John Salmons, Skiles has a completed puzzle for a strong run towards the playoffs. As Andrew Bogut said, Milwaukee hasn’t been shy about laying eggs in past high-pressure situations. But 2009-10 just feels different, thanks to Skiles’ ability to keep the team grounded and focused on one game at a time.

The NBA’s Bo Ryan
Every other candidate for the coach of the year award has at least one premium superstar with playoff expectations. Skiles has done much more with a lot less. Bogut, Jennings, and Salmons can all go off on a given night, but the Bucks don’t/can’t rely on one player night in and night out. People expect to see teams led by Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, Lebron James and Chris Bosh taste a good level of success. Even looking at the Bucks’ current roster on paper, it’s still hard to believe this team is on pace for around 45 wins. Credit Skiles for the team’s massive overachievement.

Milwaukee’s Nostradamus
The Milwaukee bench has been a constant through the losing and winning streaks alike, and a lot of that has to do with Skiles’ ability to read the hot hand. He’s notoriously inconsistent with individual bench minutes, but for the most part he makes very few questionable choices throughout the course of a game.

The Bucks bench leads the East in rebounds, steals, and assists per game, and are second only to the Knicks in points per game. NBA coaches have less in-game influence than a manager in baseball or a head coach in football, but a big area of responsibility lies in bench management. Skiles has proven he is one of the best in the business at using reserves.

A lot can happen in the remaining 20 games, but the Bucks are peaking in their playoff run after most preseason predictions had them ranked no higher than 25th. Skiles deserves more than his fair share of credit for getting Milwaukee to play well above their means after falling seven games below .500 in mid-January. With the way the team has played as of late (9-1 in their last 10, including Saturday’s big home win against Cleveland), the Bucks could be more than just a regular season surprise once the playoffs start.

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