In three seasons as the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, Scott Skiles has never had less than 11 different players start a game at some point in each season.
You may be able to guess how he feels about rotations and roles.
“I’m pretty simple when it comes to that,” he said. “I think that’s one of the most overrated, overblown things there is. Everybody has the same role. Show up, play hard as hell, do your job. That’s your role. I don’t think that changes.”
But lately, Coach Skiles has trimmed and stabilized Milwaukee’s rotation a bit. Since Andrew Bogut‘s return from a knee injury against the Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee’s largely stuck to an eight man rotation. Recently, Milwaukee’s starting unit has been Brandon Jennings, John Salmons, Corey Maggette, Ersan Ilyasova and Bogut. Primary reserves have been Keyon Dooling , Luc Mbah a Moute and Carlos Delfino.
Through three quarters in Detroit, Skiles had only gone eight deep before he became so frustrated that he cleared the bench with nine minutes remaining hoping to capture something. Against Toronto Skiles stuck with the same rotation before emptying the bench when Milwaukee had the game in hand.
Once again in Washington Wednesday night, Skiles didn’t budge much from the rotation he had settled into the past two games. The biggest difference came late in the first quarter when Jon Brockman was inserted for Bogut. Brockman scored three points and grabbed three rebounds, but also looked incapable at times on offense. He appeared to start a jumpshot from the free throw line, only to realize how far out he was, then passed in the air directly to Washington’s Kirk Hinrich. Brockman played through the start of the second quarter and then only returned with the game out of hand.
For most of the season, the only rotation Milwaukee knew was the one that had one player going on the injured list as soon as another came off. With a few Bucks having recently returned from various ailments, Coach Skiles is placing a priority on re-acclimating them.
“Our priority’s gotta be Carlos (Delfino), John (Salmons), Brandon (Jennings), the guys that have been injured, been out, and are now back. To get them out there and try and get them some sort of comfort level and the other guys just have to understand that. ”
As for the guys on the outside looking in, the route to more minutes is fairly simple: play well when you play and do it consistently.
“One of the things we gotta eventually get to is: you have to play well to play,” Skiles said with a chuckle about how obvious his own words were. “That’s nothing profound. You have to have some consistency when you play, otherwise it’s prudent to look in other directions and try to find groups that are playing well. If players aren’t being productive you got to look at other players, see what they can do. That’s the reality of it.”
Skiles was asked about Chris Douglas-Roberts specifically.
“He’s a young player still, trying to learn what he can and can’t do out there, trying to get some consistency. (Young players have to learn about) not feeling too good when you play great, or feeling terrible when you don’t play great. There’s a lot that goes into it.”
For a team so desperately seeking answers, the hope is that stability in the lineup will provide them. But Skiles doesn’t much deal in hoping.
“I hope a lot of things, doesn’t mean they all come true.”
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).