As far as cliched buzzwords go, “doghouse” ranks with any as most commonly used during an NBA season. A guy isn’t playing much and we can’t figure out why? He’s in the doghouse. His coach must have some sort of deep seated problem with him and that’s especially the case if a team is struggling and a guy isn’t playing.
But sometimes there’s more to it than that. It’s simpler. Or it’s more complicated. It depends how you want to frame it. Whatever the case is, it seems like a good idea to go back through both the coach’s history and the player’s history to add some context to the situation.
That’s why I never really understood why people were often so adamant that Chris Douglas-Roberts should have been playing more minutes in Milwaukee as last season wound down. Maybe it had something to do with his enthusiasm last summer about coming to Milwaukee. As a city, we’re not the prettiest girl at the dance, so we generally get pretty excited when anyone is talking about us to their friends, even if it’s that guy who just had a nasty break-up with his ex and trashed her on the way out.
But the team seemed ready to move on from CD-R by late January. Some thought that was crazy, others seemed to understand it. Our initial feelings aside, there’s so much happening with a team that we’re not seeing.
We don’t see players read their scouting reports. We don’t see them practice. We don’t see them arriving for planes or interact with their teammates. Even those of us in the media catch them only at the tail end of their days or for brief moments before games. Rarely is the curtain pulled back completely in the NBA.
So to assume so blindly that Scott Skiles was ever unfair to CD-R seems odd to me. That’s where context comes in. Just a year ago I had an opportunity to chat with Kelvin Sampson at summer league and I asked him what it was about Skiles that had everyone buzzing about him the previous season. The word he kept using? Fair. It was the word pouring out of the locker room all season whenever anyone was asked what Coach Skiles was doing right. He was being fair.
To think that Skiles would throw that out the window when the chips were down this season seems a little far fetched. CD-R had his chances early. An eye injury set him back, but he saw plenty of minutes while we all wondered whether or not Carlos Delfino would ever recover from an early season concussion. While Delfino was out, CD-R averaged roughly 24 minutes per game and apparently failed to make much of an impression. When CD-R scored, he did it in bunches. Seven times he scored in double figures, three times he did it back to back and on one occasion managed three such games in a row.
But he failed to produce consistently. 17 times he failed to crack double digits and he provided little in the way of rebounding or assists. In short: We saw as many zero point games as we saw 30-point games. The highs were too often matched with lows.
Defensively, we’re not discussing a premier defender. He didn’t dramatically hurt the team defensively, but he did little to help either. By the time Delfino returned, CD-R had failed to establish himself as dependable offensively and certainly didn’t stand out defensively.
With Milwaukee focused on getting Delfino and John Salmons going, CD-R was battling for backup two guard minutes with Keyon Dooling. Dooling often looked like the best teammate the Bucks had and always competed harder than everyone else on defense, constantly spreading out his arms, keeping his hands up and challenging opponents. Dooling struggled on offense, but he was reliable defensively. Skiles appeared to side with the guy who was dependable on one end and knew where he should be on the other. Maybe Dooling’s ceiling wasn’t as high, this season or in the future, as CD-R’s, but he was reliable and prepared. Two things that it appears from the outside that CD-R wasn’t.
Maybe he’ll get there. To his credit, CD-R seems to be handling himself with maturity and grace as he prepares to exit Milwaukee. That’s a great step for him, as he torched every bridge he could on his way out of New Jersey last season. He seems to be realistic about things. He saw the numbers in front of him, saw Salmons’ contract and Delfino’s prior relationship with Skiles and understood what was going on.
But CD-R can learn from this too. One of the most important lessons to learn in the NBA is being prepared. Those who take advantage of opportunity hang around a lot longer than those who don’t. It didn’t work out for him in Milwaukee, but if he can take what he’s learned from this experience and combine it with the same enthusiasm he had last summer, some team may be buying in on CD-R at the right time.
It just won’t be the Bucks.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Become a fan on Facebook (right sidebar).