With Scott Skiles and the Milwaukee Bucks reportedly walking away from each other sometime yesterday, we’re all still left with more questions than answers. Specifically, here are three questions that could go a long ways towards deciding how the rest of this season and possibly a big part of the future plays out for the Bucks.
More minutes for Samuel Dalembert?
It’s interesting how reports indicated that Skiles was more in favor of doing a rebuild before the Bucks stacked up on veterans all those years ago. You wouldn’t have pegged him as a coach who would want to sit through the struggles that a rebuild entails. But maybe his goal for player development over instant success was what drove Dalembert to the bench.
Milwaukee’s big off-season acquisition, Dalembert has only played in three games since the end of November and none since December 12. Many fans wondered why Dalembert didn’t make an appearance when the Bucks were trounced by the sizable Memphis Grizzlies on December 19. Or why he didn’t come off the bench over offensive minded Drew Gooden when the Bucks interior defense was getting filleted against the Detroit Pistons at the start of Milwaukee’s current four game losing streak.
Skiles offered a half-hearted explanation of Dalembert’s absence prior to Milwaukee’s win over Miami, saying it was hard to play five or six big guys in a game and that the Bucks had four that were doing well or they wanted to get going. But Dalembert wasn’t brought in to sit on the bench.
The coaching change could be the opportunity he needs to re-enter the rotation, possibly with Luc Mbah a Moute moving back to the small forward position with more regularity.
One thing is for sure: Skiles departure leaves the Bucks with no less crowded a frontcourt rotation. Something has to give there eventually.
What will happen with Milwaukee’s young players?
We can safely assume Larry Sanders has earned himself consistent minutes with his stellar play this season, regardless of who the coach of the team is.
But what about Milwaukee’s other young players?
Everyone on the team can’t suddenly expect a significant minute increase simply because a new coach has taken over. The games are still 48 minutes. If Dalembert plays more, will there still be time for Ekpe Udoh? And if Mbah a Moute heads back to the three more often, will Tobias Harris still be unable to find minutes? Or will Harris regain his starting spot at the small forward position? This could also be the move that sends Mike Dunleavy Jr. into the starting lineup and out of his comfortable bench role.
THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS.
The most likely scenario seems to have Joel Przybilla, Marquis Daniels and Drew Gooden on the end of the bench, where they’ve often been over the past couple of games. But the Bucks still have more capable players than rotation spots.
We may soon see that a consistent rotation wasn’t a Skiles specific problem.
Can anything help Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings play well more often?
This is all where it really starts and stops though. If Ellis and Jennings were 43 or 44 percent shooters, suddenly this is a much more dangerous team. Both players are shooting 40 percent from the field and that’s much worse for Ellis than it is for Jennings. He’s struggled for the majority of his 53 games under Skiles in Milwaukee. We’ve seen that before. After a hot start, John Salmons struggled in the Bucks offensive system. Stephen Jackson never got going, ditto for Corey Maggette.
While none of those three ever really recaptured what made them very good rotation players before becoming Bucks players, there might be something to be said about Skiles ability to coax the best offense out of players on his teams. It’s unlikely we’ll see any major scheme changes under Boylan half way through a season, but perhaps there’s a tweak or two that could be made that could help Ellis and Jennings perform with more consistency.
Jennings specifically has been all over the map lately. And while he was supportive of Skiles after the only coach he’s played for in the NBA was dismissed, maybe a different voice guiding the way could help him out. Obviously he’s familiar with Boylan, an assistant in Milwaukee the whole time Jennings has been here, but it’s tough to predict how players will react to a coaching change.
The Bucks need to know if Ellis or Jennings can be more right now or in the future than the players they’ve been this season.
They have 50 games to find out.