Scott Skiles Interview
Chicago Bulls coach Scott Skiles spoke with InsideHoops.com and other major media outlets in a teleconference. Here are the questions and answers:
Opening Statement: We’ve had a very good preseason. We went to New Hampshire and got blown out by the Celtics on opening night but we had some funny lineups out there and a little bit of rookie-itis, a couple of starry-eyed young players out there, and then played better at home. Then we played Cleveland the other night and we were down four with 10 minutes to go in the game and I took (Kirk) Hinrich out … but we lost that. Overall, though, we’re pretty pleased with the way camp is going.
Q: Can you talk about Eddy Curry?
Skiles: Eddy has had, what I would call, a great summer. He is in the best shape he has ever been in his life. As a result of that he can change ends. He had a couple of defensive games where it’s the best defense I’ve seen him play since I’ve been the coach since last December. He has great hands, feet; he can score and his weaknesses have been on the defensive end and conditioning and he’s really worked hard to get those up. We think he’s going to have a really great year.
Q: Ben Gordon and Hinrich are both undersized to play the two, but they’re both good defenders and perimeter shooters. Do you envision a time when they will be in the backcourt together?
Skiles: We’d like Ben to take that backcourt spot along with Kirk. So far, Ben has struggled with the pace of things a little bit. We have great confidence in him. We think Ben is going to be a very good pro player. But right now we’re throwing the NBA kitchen sink at him and his learning curve has been a little bit slowed because of that. He had 18 good looks the other night at home. He was four-for-18. We know that if we could give him 18 good looks, most nights he’s going to shoot a good percentage. We definitely could see both those guys playing together in the backcourt.
Q: Luol Deng has had to answer questions about his so-called lack of athleticism. As a guy who has survived in the league many years without being considered a great athlete, are you tired of hearing that?
Skiles: You’re being kind to say that I wasn’t considered a great athlete. We’re not worried about Luol’s athleticism. He’s a very unique guy. He’s ahead of where we thought he would be already. He has very good basketball instincts. He could shoot the ball. He sees the game, he sees the pictures of the way the game is played and he has length. So we’re not worried. Is he going to have many crowd-pleasing dunks or anything like that? Probably not. But that’s not his game and we really liked him. We think it was something that was tagged on him and it’s not fair.
Q: Have you talked about the possible amount of minutes he’ll see to start the season?
Skiles: Tonight we’re starting (Kirk) Hinrich, (Andres) Nocioni, (Luol) Deng, (Tyson) Chandler and (Eddy) Curry and so far that’s been our best lineup. There’s a possibility he starts. One thing I know about Luol is that he’s going to play. He’s going to try to play hard and so he may be better suited for coming off the bench because you always need people over there that you can rely on to come in and give you a burst of energy and he could certainly do that. We’re just going to play these next couple of games by ear and hopefully settle into something for the last two of three exhibition games.
Q: Do you see any similarities to Kirk Hinrich’s play and your play when you were running the point in the NBA?
Skiles: Kirk is a much better athlete than I was. He can move his feet. He’s already one of the best guard defenders in the league in our opinion. He plays every point guard tough. His shooting, we think, is going to come. It’s not that he shoots the ball poorly, but we think he’s going to develop into a very good shooter. Kirk is more of an instinctual player, where I had to really think the game at all times to survive. There’s a little bit of a comparison but I think ultimately he’s going to be way better than I ever was.
Q: What are you looking for from Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler?
Skiles: They’re 21 and 22 years old and they have done a lot of losing. Anyone at that age who has played and lost, played and lost … it’s going to affect your self-esteem a little bit. We like both guys a lot, I like both guys a lot. Eddy’s conditioning has been a factor, but that’s not a problem right now. We have got to get them in a position where they can taste some success and understand what that feels like. They both had great summers. If we could have some sort of success, and I’m not sure what that means right now, but then they could look back on their summer they had success and start developing that kind of pro mind set and pro work ethic. Then the sky’s the limit for both guys. But right now it’s just me talking. It’s up to them to go out and perform.
Q: If the Pistons play like they did last year, unselfishly, and if they avoid injury, what is it going to take for a team to challenge them in the east?
Skiles: The way that they played … the keyword you used “unselfishly”, was what it was all about in my opinion on both ends. The way they scrambled and helped each other defensively and moved the ball on offense, it’s a very dangerous team. To beat them is one thing but I know what you’re asking. How are you going to beat them in a series? How are you going to beat them four out of seven times? If they’re injury free, the obvious candidates that everybody is pointing to is Indiana and Miami with Shaquille, and then maybe some dark horses in there. But you are going to have to play almost a perfect series if they’re on their game to be able to put them away. It will be interesting to see what happens.
Q: Are you impressed with the way the Pistons move the ball and the fact that anybody can score for them? What kind of things stand out for you from their offense?
Skiles: I think what sets that up is the fact that they picked up Rasheed (Wallace). They had a good core of guys that worked hard. They were able to take a little bit of a risk on Rasheed, and Rasheed has always been popular with his teammates, but here is a guy who could get his shot off whenever he wants and he’s unselfish. So when they made that move right there … and (Richard) Hamilton has developed into one of the best shooting guards … and then Chauncy’s (Billups) always good. So they got a guy who can score but he still defers to his teammates on a lot of occasions and that kind of unselfishness kind of spills over and creates that kind of winning atmosphere.