I figured out the secret to Skiles success
So how the hell did Scott Skiles do it? How did he take virtually the same roster that was the NBA's worst defense for the last two years and turn it into one of the NBA's best defenses? Voodoo, bodysnatching... what the fuck? No, its so easy, I can't believe I didn't see it earlier.
Skiles is a number cruncher or, more likely, he's good at craps. Because his defense is all about playing the odds.
According to the numbers, the Bucks defense isn't that much better inside. But the effective field goal percentage is way down.
Its all because of what I'm going to call Skiles "bubble" defense. That is, he's got the Bucks challenging every single three, and every layup. If you do those two things, your defense has to improve.
Its a common misconception that basketball defense is about preventing shots. Its about regaining possession of the basketball as quickly as possible without the other team scoring points. Sometimes that means inducing the opposition to shoot... low percentage shots.
The best way to do that is to marshall your resources against the opposition's best "point value" opportunities.
In the modern NBA, the two greatest point value opportunities are open 3 point shots and uncontested layups. If you concentrate on preventing those two things, your defense is going to be good.
Why? If you look at it statistically, NBA players have become just as proficient at making jump shots from behind the 3 point arc as jump shots in what I call "No Man's Land" the area outside the paint and inside the arc. According to 82games, the median field goal percentage on 3 point shots is just a hare below the median field goal percentage on "2 point jump shots"... 37.7% vs. 38.8%.
But do the math. The return gotten by the median 3 point shooter in the NBA is 1.2 points per shot, whereas the return gottent by the median No Man's shooter is just 0.7 points per shot. The difference is enormous.
That's why the bubble defense makes so much sense... stretch out and challenge any three attempt, and foul anyone... if you have to... rather than giving up an open layup. If you do those two things you will be a good defense. And Coach Skiles knows it... or should I say "James Cagney in The Public Enemy" knows it? (did you see his boss brown pinstripe suit in Atlanta?... he looked just like Cagney in one of those gangster films!)