With the injury to C Andrew Bogut, the Bucks have a huge problem.
Kurt Thomas was a pretty good backup (when you consider the quality of backup centers) but he would be an inadequate starter at the level he’s played this season.
Old man Kurt Thomas now has to step his minutes up from 5.0% of center minutes to around 11.0%, if the Bucks are lucky and his 38 year old legs hold up. Plus, he somehow has to conjure up visions of his days with the Spurs, when he was an extremely productive PF/C. Perhaps he can do it.
But that’s only the beginning of the problem.
Whenever a starter goes down in basketball, the problem isn’t replacing him, its replacing the guy that replaced him. If you look at the Bucks Win Chart, they have nothing but garbage, absolute garbage, at third string center.
So Skiles must get creative.
There is no way any of the Bucks third string centers will play in any critical situations. Skiles would rather suit up himself and play center than turn to such a dreadful option. So here’s what I think he might do.
The Ilyasova Option and the collateral damage
What Skiles will likely do is use Ilyasova at backup center. This is not ideal, as Ilyasova has proven an excellent power forward but a weak center. He’s surprisingly good at covering the Association’s new breed of “step out” power forwards, but he does not defend the post well. (Look at the Counterpart Numbers on 82games. Ilyasova is holding PFs to an admirable eFG of 48%. He is allowing centers to shoot nearly 70%. I’ve never even heard of another example of defense that poor. Clearly, by the iFG numbers, centers are taking him inside and abusing him.)
The move will also have a domino effect that will further weaken the lineup. Here is what I anticipate the Coach will do.
Delfino becomes Nocioni, then comes Stackhouse
To account for the Ilyasova move, he will switch SF Carlos Delfino into a sort of SF/PF role similar to the role Andres Nocioni played for him with the Chicago Bulls. Then he will turn to veteran swingman Jerry Stackhouse to mop the minutes at SF that Delfino will no longer be able to fill.
I don’t know how Delfino will do at power forwerd, and Stackhouse has been up and down at small forward. This is not a move that creates strength, but its all Skiles can do.
The Least of the Evils
Finally, to spell Thomas and Ilya for short periods, its either Gadzuric or Primo Brezec, and at least Gadzuric once was a very productive NBA player. Brezec has never been anything but horrible. He is one of the worst players in NBA history (in a recent game he boxed a guy out backwards, like he was trying to dance with him. His man got the rebound because Brezec’s bizarre tactic left him unable to grab it himself. The play was indicative of Brezec’s basketball sense… he has none).
So by default it has to be Gadzuric.
What I would I think Skiles should say to Gadzuric is this:
“Dan, don’t shoot. We don’t need scoring from you, and you can’t provide it anyway. I’ll have you neutered if you attempt anything other than a dunk. Get it? Your job is to rebound. Rebound like you did in 2004, do not shoot.”
Addendum: I have to do a full post about this. But here’s Gadzuric’s problem. In his one great season, Gadzuric outshot his opponent because he dunked almost everything. Now he shoots jumpers. NO! If I were Skiles I would have him beaten with soap like Gomer Pyle in Full Metal Jacket if he ever takes anything other than a dunk. Also, in his one great season he rebounded like a madman, outrebounding his counterparts by an astounding +5.8 per 48. After that season he forgot how to rebound.