Saturday, March 1, 2008

Guest Post: Deconstructing Darko

As is well documented here on 3SOB, Darko Milicic is an enigma wrapped in a question mark. What do you make of this guy? I mean, yeah he's young. Yeah, his confidence was dissolved in acid by Larry Brown. But he's been in the league for four seasons now, going on five. We should be seeing something, right?

Well, I'm starting to think that the trick for Darko is this: Both Darko and his coaches must begin to think outside of the the box with him--literally.

I suppose the seed for this line of thinking began shortly after we signed him, and I was looking at his highlight reel on YouTube.

I know highlight reels are deceptive, but here are things I noticed:

1. He can shoot
2. He can run
3. He sees the court pretty well, and can make some nifty touch passes, even on the run
4. He can take guys off the dribble

What prompted this particular submission was watching Darko drive the lane during the third quarter of the PHX game. Yes, he was up against an aging Shaq, but still, his athleticism, length and quickness enabled him to get to the rim with jaw dropping speed. By the time I realized it was happening, he'd already dunked the ball. He made a similar move earlier in the season in Seattle, crossing over the opposing center and driving baseline. I began wondering how many centers could keep up with him if they had to actually move their feet to defend him.
Got me thinking: Maybe the problem with Darko's offense is that we're playing him as a back to the basket center, when that's exactly what he's NOT. No wonder he keeps going to that lefty hook. What if his TRUE game should be modeled on Nowitzki instead of, say, Shaq or Yao? In theory, it would create matchup nightmares--you could quietly run an ISO for Darko against the opposing center. He drives and gets to the basket, or pulls the defense in and passes to a slashing Rudy or a Bombing Juan Carlos. If he ends up with a smaller defender on him, then there's a mismatch somewhere else on court, and he's a good enough passer to exploit it.

Instead, it seems we've got him mostly playing in the low post, not really his game. No wonder his confidence is flagging. I've got a remedy for that, too.

Darko: Go Rodman. Seriously.

Grow your hair out. Color it blonde at least, maybe streaks of blue. Grow a beard and shave it like Sam Jackson wore his in Shaft. Get a couple of tatts. In other words, get out of the box. People have been trying to put you in a box since you came into the league. You should be this. You should be that. All of it has caused you to question who you are, and sapped your belief in yourself. So quit trying to fit in. Quit trying to be what others think you should be. Do something wild and out of the box. Become a character. Embrace your mean streak a little. Don't be an asshole but raise a little hell in the locker room. And by all means . . . HAVE FUN, both on the court and off it. You're just 22. Don't know what kind of horrible things you saw while in your homeland, but you look WAAAY too serious most of the time.

Rodman was a good player with the Detroit Bad Boys. But his game leaped when he embraced his inner strangeness.

Now it's your turn, Darko.


BallHype: hype it up!


Anonymous said...

Darko seems to be a lot better than what people and coaches give him credit for. His size makes you want to post him as a banger but he's only mediocre in that role (6ppg). If he's pushed to play to his strengths he can probably give you more offensive production. He is too serious and very scary now that his head is inconsistently shaved. It's a bit spotty like he cuts it with a bowie knife. If we aren't careful, we'll squander his talent like Detroit and Orlando did.

ChipC3 said...

Interesting thoughts. Darko has tried the hair trick before and it hasn't worked out too well. I personally think the psychotic assassin bald look is fine.

Darko just needs to feel comfortable and he will be able to perform. The early season injuries followed by Gasol's trade and previous problems adapting to the NBA has hurt him but if Memphis stays behind him he could grow into something special. After all he is younger than Joakim Noah!

MemphisX said...

Darko needs to learn not to shoot. His problem is he had no recognition in time and situation regarding shot selection which is why his FG% stinks.