Saturday, February 16, 2008

Darko "Busting" Out


It starts off innocently enough....more of a question than anything. Usually it is asked in a manner that is seemingly innoccuous and harmless. Then the question starts to become a statement more and more often. Soon enough it is considered an irrefutable, undeniable fact. After all, you cannot argue that when the #2 pick of a draft that produced LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh is only averaging 5.2 ppg and 3.7 rpg after 4 years in the league that he is, in fact, a "bust".

Or can you?

Pau Gasol hasn't played for the Memphis Grizzlies since January 28 against the Dallas Mavericks. In the 7 games since then, Darko has played 30+ mpg in 5 of them, posting averages of 13.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 2.6 bpg, 1.8 apg, .519 FG%, .647 FT%. Add in the game at Dallas in which he played 25 minutes and his averages are 11.5 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.2 bpg, 1.5 apg, .483 FG%, .647 FT%. In other words, if you remove the Philly game where he only played 13 minutes as the team *coughshowcasedcough* ahem, gave significant playing time to Hakim Warrick, Milicic has averaged a double-double since Gasol left the lineup. Darko has 6 double-doubles on the year (3 since "The Trade"), but only one with less than 30 minutes played -- the game against the Lakers on January 8th, where he played 27:10 and recorded 12 pts, 11 reb and 4 blk.

Those aren't eye-popping numbers, but they're far better than what Jerome James or Malik Rose are putting up for the Knicks at similiar salaries. To give a little perspective, a certain 20-year old up-and-comer is receiving plenty of praise for posting 13/10 this year in 29 mpg after putting up 8/6 in 22 mpg last year. That player's name: Andrew Bynum, who is in his 3rd year in the league. In fact, that this is technically Darko's 5th season since being drafted has really worked against him when the dreaded "B" word comes up. But if you truly examine his tenure, you'll see that he is just now truly completing his 2nd full season in the NBA as his first 2.5 years with Detroit were practically wasted. Only when he was traded to the Orlando Magic did he receive any significant playing time. That's right, he's a 22-year old 7-foot center who only has 2 real years under his belt and is just now getting a chance to show what he can do, albeit with a nagging injury to his shooting hand for most of the year.

Hopefully you are over the shock of me comparing Darko to Bynum. Let's look at a few other comparisons and see how Darko stacks up against a few players who were known as solid defensive players with somewhat limited offensive potential and what their respective career arcs look like.

Tyson Chandler 7' 1" 6 yrs Pro

Yr

G

GS

MPG

FG%

RPG

BPG

PPG

01-02713119.60.4974.81.36.1
02-03756824.40.5316.91.49.2
03-0435822.30.4247.71.26.1
04-05801027.40.4949.71.88.0
05-06795026.80.5659.01.35.3
06-07737334.60.62412.41.89.5
07-08464634.70.60712.31.012.2

Career

45928627.10.5478.91.47.9


Samuel Dalembert 6' 11" 5 yrs Pro

Yr

G

GS

MPG

FG%

RPG

BPG

PPG

03-04825326.80.5417.62.38.0
04-05726024.80.5247.51.78.2
05-06665226.70.5318.22.47.3
06-07828230.90.5418.91.910.7
07-08525233.10.5169.92.411.1

Career

38829926.20.5307.81.98.3


Chris Kaman 7' 0" 5 yrs Pro

Yr

G

GS

MPG

FG%

RPG

BPG

PPG

03-04826122.50.4605.60.96.1
04-05635025.90.4976.71.19.1
05-06787832.80.5239.61.411.9
06-07756629.00.4517.81.510.1
07-08444339.00.47613.63.016.5

Career

34229829.00.4838.21.410.2


Darko Milicic 7' 0"   4 yrs Pro

Yr

G

GS

MPG

FG%

RPG

BPG

PPG

05-0630120.90.5074.12.17.6
06-07801623.90.4545.51.88.0
07-08423924.90.4375.92.06.8

Career

2486016.70.4433.71.35.3


It is rather interesting to consider that Tyson Chandler was considered a bust while in Chicago. Samuel Dalembert has shown gradual, but very limited improvement since he came into the league. Chris Kaman was labeled a disappointment before Elton Brand's injury allowed him to flourish this season. Right now, Darko is at least 4 years younger than any of these players. He'll have the rest of the season, as well as the next two years, to establish himself as a consistent low-post performer, something we have gotten a glimpse of since Gasol's departure. Sure, he'll still have a lousy game here and there -- who doesn't? But at his age with his potential on his current salary, I'm not sure that he isn't going to be one of the most important building blocks of this young team going forward. So, to every Mike Kahn or Chad Ford that calls Darko a BUST, I say that his fate has yet to be determined. Darko's Redemption? Nay. Darko's emergence from his chrysalis.


The Dark One cometh....

BallHype: hype it up!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

many <3s

Ronan said...

Can someone teach him how to bounce the ball off the ground without hitting it off his foot?

CarlCR said...

Good article Spartacus!

I would hope that all Grizzlies' fans would want Darko to become better and prove that he is not a bust. It should not surprise anyone that if you don't get consistent and enough playing time in the NBA that you are very unlikely to get better. Now that Darko is getting consistent playing time I hope that he improves.

Maybe we should start keeping stats on Darko beginning Jan. 29, 2008 to see if he really is improving.