October 21, 2008
SI's 2008-09 NBA Scouting Reports
Milwaukee Bucks
Projected Finish: 12th in Eastern Conference
Richard Jefferson didn't want to leave New Jersey, but now he's eager to help turn around the listless Bucks.
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
Fast Fact
Last Season

The new coach wants to make defense the top priority. How soon will his players buy in?

For the first time in four head coaching stops, Scott Skiles had an entire off-season to prepare forhis new job. "Not having to hit the ground running and do it all on the fly hasbeen great," says Skiles, 44, who took the Bucks' position in April and in sixweeks watched video of all of Milwaukee's games from last season -- "some multipletimes," he says.

That was a far cry from Skiles's first gig, in Greece in 1997. "I played onWednesday night and was the coach on Thursday morning," he says.

In his two previous NBA stints, with the Suns and the Bulls, Skiles assumedbench duties in the middle of the season, which meant he was coaching someoneelse's players largely using someone else's system. This time around he has hadmore input into shaping the team. Not surprisingly, that led to lots of changesfor the 26-win Bucks, with only four members of the rotation coming back. Inall, they have eight new faces, including Richard Jefferson, who was acquiredfrom the Nets and who with Michael Redd forms one of the most prolific wingtandems in the league.

With plenty of scorers on his roster Skiles, a taskmaster who has areputation for wearing on his players, can focus on the other end of the court.He plans to transform Milwaukee from what he calls a "very, very poor defensiveteam" -- it has ranked second to last in field goal defense in each of the past twoseasons -- into a D-first outfit that can play at a torrid pace. "I'm going tocoach the way I think I need to coach to get the job done," says Skiles, "andlet the chips fall where they may." -- Elizabeth McGarr


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