Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Shot in the Darko

By Kirk

After a years performance in the Darko-Grizzlies era, many still believe that THIS is the year Darko will truly live up to the hype, and become the player that many experts predicted him to become.

After a paltry season as a Grizz "rookie", where he posted a stat line of 7.2 points/6.1 rebounds/0.8 assists/1.6 bpg in 24 mpg, is Darko poised to "breakout" this season?

There were rumors swirling over the past few weeks of a deal proposing a Darko/Marko for Zach Randolph swap. Now, thankfully, this deal appears to be as dead as Pauly Shore's acting career.

There has been talk of Darko possibly getting extensive minutes at the PF position this year, courtesy of our man Chip here at 3ShadesofBlue and his interview with head coach Mark Iavaroni.

On that note, would Darko be able to produce at the 4 spot? Many experts pegged him as a player who would never be a true NBA center, and that his natural NBA position was better suited at the 4, rather than the 5. Having played center for the Grizzlies last year, and having watched many excruciating performances at said position, I am beginning to believe these so called "experts".

The main knock on Darko in the past (other than being a bust) is that he has the confidence level of a pimple faced 9th grader asking the head cheerleader to prom. There were many games in which Darko would start early, hit some quick shots, get into a flow, and then seemingly disappear from the game. The disappearance usually coincided with either missing a few straight shots, or when getting a breather. Darko never seemed to close a game out on a positive note, rather he seemed to duck away when crunch time arrived. Sometimes he would disappear so quickly that you would have had an easier time finding the remains of Jimmy Hoffa.

With this being said, and the jury is still out, this IS Darko's year to prove his worthiness or unworthiness of being an NBA player. There is NO Pau this year, virtually noone standing in his own way. Darko controls his own destiny. He is the veteran big man this year, with 3 rookies in Marc Gasol, Hamed Haddadi, and Darrell Arthur looking to him as the "man". The only other big man veteran we have is a #2 pencil...........I mean Hakim Warrick.

Lets face it, Darko will most likely never "light it up", but will he finally break free from the stigma surrounding him? Can he prove the naysayers wrong? Can he finally string together performances to prove otherwise?

The judge shall reserve sentencing until all evidence is in, and I am able to weigh said evidence.

Until then, court dismissed.

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Anonymous said...

I think there's good talent in Darko that can be brought out .... but I don't expect we'll see it this year.

I think Darko will need a great deal of help on the court to bring out his abilities. That means a major league power forward who'll help him on the boards, help him defensively, who's hard working and who Darko respects. It also means having a tough perimeter defense so Darko isn't forced out of position defensively at an alarming rate. I thought Darko got frustrated defensively as the year progressed last season. He's a good defender but there were so many problems elsewhere that most of his actions had little effect and it seemed to get him down (he's not the strongest mentally).

I think he needs to be around veteran players who understand how to help him on the court ... rather than youngsters trying to prove their talents.

I think Darko to be in a position where he can succeed. Where he has a very few responsibilities on the offensive end, but lots on the backboards and defensively. I also think he needs a coach that believes in him and will play him through his inconsistent patches ... he needs that confidence, he doesn't have it and he's not going to get it any other way.

On playing power forward .....

I also don't believe that Darko can function at the four. It makes his offensive flaws more important because he won't have enough scoring options around him, unless Marc Gasol turns into a beast ... and his jumper will be exploited, and the club will then have spacing issues offensively and things will possibly will become too stagnant in terms of player movement.

Offensively Darko needs to be the fifth best offensive player at all times and primarily used for passing/screening with a few (2-3) rewarding post ups during the game for his work on the boards/defensively.

I also think he's far better defensively at center because he can spend more time around the rim altering shots and hitting the boards.

So I don't like him at power forward, I didn't like it in Orlando and nothing has changed.

I like Darko a great deal so I hope I'm wrong. I'd love to see him turn his career around and I do believe he can be a good starting quality center who could provide very good defense and good rebounding ... but I think he'll need the right situation to bring that out and I'm not sure that's here in Memphis.

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