Bucks Diary

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bucks fans can expect a dramatic "Skiles Effect"

The overwhelming weight of historical evidence almost guarantees the Milwaukee Bucks will dramatically improve their defense next season.

According to basketball-reference.com, there is only one player Scott Skiles has ever coached whose defense did not improve dramatically under his leadership. That player was Ben Wallace. Wallace did not improve because he did not really have any room for improvement (though I must note that as soon as Skiles left Chicago, Wallace's defensive performance underwent a steep decline, so that in itself can be cited as a "Skiles Effect".)

And it isn't as if Skiles has been picking low hanging fruit, either. Skiles has coached some notoriously bad defenders. See for yourself:


Using basketball-reference.com's "Defensive Rating" as my measurement (D Rtg: pts allowed/100 possessions the opposition had while the player was on the court), I compared the defensive performance turned in by every single player Skiles has ever coached (min: 500 mns pt under Skiles) against those same player's defensive performances without Skiles. The evidence of a "Skiles Effect" was overwhelming and undeniable.

As I said above, all but one player improved his career defensive efficiency under Skiles, and the minimum improvement was 3 points per possession, with the average improvement being 5.5 points per possession.

That means victories, especially in the Eastern Conference. If you project Skiles average improvement effect onto the Bucks roster from last season, and you assume that their putrid offense won't get any worse, then I estimate the "Skiles Effect" alone will add 11 wins to the Bucks record.

But there is good reason to believe the "Skiles Effect" will be even more dramatic than that. If the Bucks only improve by 5.5 points/100 possessions, their overall defensive rating will still be a pretty mediocre 107.1. Scott Skiles has never produced a team whose defensive rating was that bad. The lowest team defensive rating he ever produced was 103.4.

And, no player who has ever played for Skiles has ever had a defensive rating over 104.5, with the average defensive rating under Skiles being 100.0. Its hard to believe he would suddenly consider 107.1 acceptable. You get the feeling he would sooner rip someone's guts out than watch a team he coached surrender that many points per possession.

That being the case, if we assume that Skiles can at least get a 104.0 defensive rating out of any NBA level player (hell, he got 99.0 ratings out of Daniel Santiago and TODD FRICKIN' DAY!! Why couldn't he get at least a 104.0 out of everyone of these Bucks?), then suddenly the "Skiles Effect" becomes 17 games.

Sure, that might be slightly wishful thinking, but I really do not think it is. The overwhelming weight of historical evidence tells me BucksNation can expect to see a dramatic defensive improvement from the Bucks this winter. And after the garbage they've called defense for the previous 16 winters, that will be a truly exotic and wonderful sight.


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