By and large, it’s pretty hard not to admire the great lot of NBA coaches; mainly when they have to design dozens of plays suitable to their team’s needs, reflect upon scouting reports in an instant and in the presence of 20,000 strong and deal with youngsters usually half their age making twice their salary who can’t be bothered with little things like eye contact and general civility.
But once in a while, the wheels fall off. And I don’t think it a ridiculous step to suggest that Scott Skiles is an example of such. We could point out several instances where the Bulls coach has lost touch of reality, but his continued mishandling of former All-Star Ben Wallace has to shoot to the top of our list. Coming off his best game of the season (a 10 point, 19 rebound, five steal, four block effort against the Bobcats on Saturday), Skiles saw fit to hand the 33-year old 48 minutes in a loss to the Mavericks on Monday.
Now, the overwhelming majority of NBA players see their per-minute numbers rise with an increase in per-game minutes
. But we can’t think of a single player, with the possible exceptions of youngsters Dwight Howard
and LeBron James
, who would deserve to play the entire 48-minute term of a regulation NBA game. And 33-year old Wallace, whose 2006-07 per-minute stats are easily the worst of his career, certainly doesn’t deserve the treatment one month into a season that some saw Chicago extending well into June.
Wallace was miserable in the loss to Dallas, unable to register a single block or steal while coming through with an Eddy Curry
-like eight rebounds. Actually, that last part isn’t true: Curry averages nine rebounds per 48 minutes
. Yikes. Skiles’ reaction? "I don't particularly care for playing anybody 48 minutes, generally, unless they're really, really playing well. Several times I thought about going to Joe (Smith). We were having trouble shooting the ball, maybe putting another shooter out there. But each time, we would close the gap a little bit."
“Really, really playing well?” Really? Eight rebounds in 48 minutes? Missing eight shots in 10 tries? No blocks? You weren’t shooting well (34 percent on the game), so you thought about playing Joe Smith
(who received a DNP-CD), but eventually decided to pass on actually putting a good shooter into the game? “One of our struggles is, 'What is the alternative?' What about the guy behind him, is he performing well? What about the guy behind him, is he performing well?”
"The alternative?" Joe Smith. Or more minutes for Tyrus Thomas
and Joakim Noah
(who combined for nine rebounds in 21 minutes). Or anything different
than Wallace, who is only asked to block shots and rebound yet is ranked 38th in the NBA in rebound rate
But 48 minutes for Ben Wallace, who rebounded poorly, didn’t play particularly sound defense and was a millstone offensively? Take it away, Patsy.