Bucks Diary

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

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!)


At November 27, 2008 at 8:57 AM, Anonymous paulpressey25 said...

Larry K. tried to teach this same defense to the team last year. He used the now infamous yard/fence/house drawing where he tried to explain that you stop layups (the House) and you stop the threes (the fence). Make them shoot long to mid-range two's (Play in the yard)

The difference this year is that the players actually are listening to Skiles and doing what he asks. Taking the hard fouls on layups and running out at the shooters on the "fence".

Part is having different players to execute it. Part is players just being afraid of Skiles. I'd also like to see how Redd does when he gets reinserted as a 35-40mpg cog in this defense. That question will determine how the season goes IMO. Redd will provide the offense we desperately need but at what cost to the defensive efficiency?

At November 28, 2008 at 1:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're wrong, paulpressey25. Skiles has a very unique defensive system that isn't similar to Larry K's in any way. Hence Skiles' success and Kristkowiak's failure. It's not simply about the players not listening to Larry. This isn't Kindergarten.

and LOL at the players being afraid of Skiles. What world do you live in? These are grown men. I'm sure they respect him, but damn...

Also, Redd was playing great defense before the injury; shutting down scorers Jamal Crawford, Kevin Durant etc. His +/- is insanely high aswell. Give credit where credit is due, even if this site refuses to do so.

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