The Milwaukee Bucks lost Scott Skiles right around midnight Tuesday, with Sam Amick's scoop saying that it was mutual. In fact, NBA.com's David Aldridge reported on Monday that Skiles wanted to leave during the offseason as he didn't agree with -- or worse, recognize -- general manager John Hammond's plan forward.
The Bucks are currently No. 27 in the league in offense, and it's clearly efficient scoring that's holding the team back. The thing is: this was the problem a couple years back when the Bucks were hanging around the bottom of the East playoff bracket, where they are know. This is why the Bucks flipped Andrew Bogut and his interminable unavailability for scoring wizard Monta Ellis, thinking the explosive guard would fix the offense.
The sad truth is that Monta Ellis is basketball wolf tickets. He's flashy, he has enormous scoring games but as a featured scorer he is completely too inefficient to be valuable.
The perfect example of Ellis' disastrous inefficiency can be found in the 2009-10 season. Don Nelson ran Ellis into the ground -- the guard played a league-high 41 minutes per game, and took 22 field goal attempts per game. Sure, he scored 25.5 points per game. At a True Shooting percentage of .517, well below average. The Warriors scored 105 points per 100 possessions when Ellis was on the court ... and 113 when he sat.
Since the 2008-09 season, when Ellis became a high-usage player, the story has been the same: Ellis puts up huge numbers at low efficiency, and his team is either slightly better, slightly worse or much worse on offense when he's on the court. There's one exception: the half-season he spent on the Bucks last year.
With the Bucks in 2011-12, the team was +5 per 100 possessions on offense when Ellis played. For whatever reason, his partnership with Brandon Jennings (another high-volume, low-efficiency guard) worked. It didn't work defensively: the team was much better on that end, the important end for Skiles, when Ellis wasn't around. But alas: Skiles and Jennings had done the impossible. They had made a high-volume Ellis work.
It didn't last: this season, Ellis is putting up huge numbers (eliciting a few hilarious All-Star hollers) and the Bucks have been better on offense when Monta is on the bench. (The ugly numbers: Milwaukee is at 102 points per 100 possessions when Ellis sits, and an abysmal 100 points per 100 when he plays.) The opposite is true of Jennings: the Bucks are slightly better offensively when Jennings plays. Given that Jennings and Ellis most frequently play together, that discrepancy tells you something.
Skiles just couldn't run a remotely efficient offense with Ellis this season. That hasn't been a rare thing over the second act of Monta's career. This isn't meant to blame the Bucks' woes (relative as they may be -- this is a .500 team with an awesome defense and great depth) on Ellis, or the trade that landed him. But the offense is the team's problem, Skiles is not known for designing effective offenses, Ellis is not known for starring in effective offenses and it's unlikely that Jim Boylan will do anything to solve it in the interim.
Kobe Bryant is threatening to ruin his well-designed persona by joining Twitter and actually using it. Kobe doesn't joke around, remember? So seeing him post a satirical photo with Dwight Howard and Mike D'Antoni in response to a report of a locker room altercation between the stars is just ... deflating. Those of us who have been wronged by Kobe Bryant over the years could at least respect his cold, dark aura. Now he's basically going to turn himself into a brooding version of Dwight Howard? Forget that.
I prefer my villains serious, and I prefer to take themselves all too seriously. He basically just ruined the market for sanctimonious columns about athlete "me" culture and the never-ending jokes! Basically, he stooped to Dwight's level, and we're all the worse for it. The worst part is that Kobe probably suggested it. Can you imagine Dwight approaching Kobe and asking if he wanted to stage a fight for their Twitter followers? That -- not a loss to the Sixers, but that -- might have led to real blows.
The Hook is an NBA column by Tom Ziller. See the archives.