Is this the kid we drafted?

Discussion in 'Pistons and NBA' started by mercury, Sep 15, 2005.

  1. mercury

    mercury Bench Warmer

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    Serbian teen lost in King James' shadow
    By David DuPree, USA TODAY

    Asked at an NBA game who Darko Milicic was, one person said actor, and one said contestant on American Idol. One said a player for the NHL's San Jose Sharks. Comic book villain got a vote. Twenty never heard of him. One said a basketball player.
    Darko Milicic, 17, is likely to become the No. 2 selection behind LeBron James in the June NBA draft.
    AP file photo

    The same 25 people, of various ages, were asked who LeBron James was. The Ohio high school basketball sensation was recognized by all.

    His Serbian counterpart will be known soon, too.

    Though James almost certainly will be the first overall pick in the June NBA draft, Milicic (MILL-i-chich) just as probably will be No. 2.

    Milicic — six months younger than James — is a 7-foot, 245-pounder from Serbia Montenegro averaging 23 points and 10 rebounds (in 40-minute games) as a professional player in Europe.

    Milicic is a relative unknown because he is too young to play on the national team, such as the one representing his country that won the world championships last summer in Indianapolis.

    But practically every NBA team has sent a scout to see him play in Vrsac, Serbia, for first-division team KK Hemofarm. And though league rules don't permit NBA personnel to talk about players who have yet to declare for the draft, the off-the-record decision is unanimous: Milicic, expected to declare by the May 12 deadline, can't miss. Some even say they'd take him over James if given the opportunity.

    Milicic has grabbed their attention because he plays like and has the same size as the Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Garnett and is as effective playing with his back to the basket as he is facing it.

    He has long arms like Garnett, is comfortable outside and inside, is an expert ballhandler and a deft passer.

    'I like the way Kevin Garnett plays,' Milicic says through an interpreter in a phone interview, 'and I like being compared to him. But I'd like to be where my style is recognized so people in the future will be compared to me.'

    Milicic is a rugged inside player, and being the rare lefthander gives him another advantage. He runs the floor well, can start, finish or lead the fast break, dunk in traffic, step out and hit the three, take his man off the dribble or simply post up and use one of his many inside moves.

    He's the perfect mismatch — too quick for most power forwards, too big and strong for small forwards.

    Although his repertoire also includes jump hooks, turnaround jumpers, power moves and up-and-unders, Milicic says his favorite move is a behind-the-back pass to give a teammate an easy basket. 'That's what's fun,' he says.


    He originally was declared ineligible because the collective bargaining agreement says a foreign player must be at least 18 when he officially announces for the draft. Milicic won't turn 18 until June 20, six days before the draft.

    After many discussions between the league and the players' association, it was decided the wording was ambiguous. So in February, NBA Commissioner David Stern declared that as long as a player turned 18 by draft day, he is eligible.

    Standing his ground

    When he was 10, Milicic started playing basketball, initially to spend more time with his friends. Three years ago, he says he realized how good he was and started taking the game seriously.

    There is no high school basketball system in Serbia Montenegro, so his parents, Milorad and Zora, signed Milicic to a contract with Hemofarm when he was 15; the team is about 100 miles from his hometown of Novi Sad.

    He began this season with a salary that paid him about $20,000 annually. He has gotten a raise but still earns far less than $100,000 a year. As the second pick in the NBA draft, he'll start out with a guaranteed three-year, $11 million contract.

    Milicic plays two games a week, a regular league game on Saturdays or Sundays and a FIBA Cup game on Tuesdays, one of the championship tournaments for Pan-European teams.

    His next action in the FIBA Cup will be a home-and-home quarterfinal against Hapoel Samsung Tel Aviv. The first game, April 8, was scheduled to be played in Tel Aviv but was moved to Bulgaria because of the war in Iraq. In his last Cup game Milicic had 37 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in 30 minutes against Latvia. The previous game he had 23 points, 19 rebounds and four blocked shots against P.A.O.K. (Greece).

    He's the youngest player on his team (average age about 27) yet carries himself like his peers. He isn't arrogant or cocky, but he does have a bit of a mean streak. As he has been playing with grown men since he was 15, Milicic isn't easily intimidated, and an elbow to his chest or head gets one in return.

    The best player Milicic says he's faced is Orlando Magic center Pat Burke, who was playing for a Greek team (Marousi Telestet) when he faced Milicic twice last season. Milicic's stats against Burke weren't available, but Burke remembers him well.

    'My first thought was, 'I'm 28 and here I am playing against a high school kid.' But I was impressed right away,' Burke says. 'He was a lot better at 16 than a lot of players at the end of their pro careers. Nothing but positives will happen for him.'

    Burke was matched head-to-head against Milicic in both games. 'He doesn't get pushed around,' Burke says. 'He has a nice shooting touch, and he can finish with either hand. He has a good frame, too, an NBA frame. He can get a little bigger, but he isn't skinny.'

    Humming to his own beat

    Milicic's agent, Marc Cornstein of Pinnacle Management of New York, has concentrated on European players for the last five years and says he was impressed with Milicic from the first moment he saw him.

    'He's one of those players who, when he walks in a room or on the court, has tremendous presence,' Cornstein says. 'Even if you didn't know who he was, you'd know he was something special. He just walks with a bit of an aura and a swagger.'

    Milicic doesn't play video games, cruise in an SUV (he has no driver's license yet) or read his name in the paper daily. James got headlines for owning a $50,000 Hummer. When asked about his vehicle, Milicic says, 'My AND 1s,' referring to his basketball shoes, the only thing he drives in.

    He isn't into designer clothes and doesn't have a tattoo. His most prized possessions are his family and his girlfriend, whom he chooses not to name. His sister, Tijana, 13, is a volleyball player.

    Milicic has been to the USA only once, last summer, when he played in the Global Games (for athletes 22 and under) in Dallas. He has an English tutor, but he prefers to speak through an interpreter.

    He needs no interpretation when it comes to his music, however. He loves rap — Nelly, Eminem, 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg are his favorites — and he can recite most of the lyrics.

    The NBA will be singing Milicic's song soon enough
  2. webz

    webz All-Star Snub Administrator 2x Fantasy Champion Forum Donor

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    apparently... but how many stories could you dig up about other hyped players that didn't do anything?

    not saying he won't do anything but i'm sure there is a similar pervis ellison feature or perhaps a kwame brown future hall of famer article out there as well...
  3. max

    max All-Star

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    It was

    At least thats what everyone told Dumars on draft night.

    But he is only 20 now. Give him at least next season. Seems to be doing well over in Europe. Maybe it was the LB coaching staff influence in the SL games.
  4. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    I can't read that without feeling ill. The kid has a great set of physical tools, but man some of that write up is... just... wow...

    Crud like this



    You gotta think they are talking 40 minute stats, not stats per game. See the following link.
    http://nbadraft.net/profiles/darkomilicic.htm

    And then this line...


    Those GMs if making that selection would be looking for new jobs. LBJ is going to be a league MVP.
  5. TWOTIMESRALPHI

    TWOTIMESRALPHI Team Captain 3x Fantasy Champion Forum Donor

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    I also don't believe that these stats are real ones.
    This must have been youth league. Can't imagine he had stats like these in the highest league at his age.
    When I read this article, I remember how happe I was about the Pistons drafting him back then. I thought he'd be tremendous. Now, 2 years later, everything has calmed down. But it makes it easier to understand why Joe D. surpassed Wade... although it's still hard what happened to our huge luck to get #2 in a draft.
  6. Winless Wonders

    Winless Wonders Starter Forum Donor

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    No way Darko put up those type of stats unless he has a twin brother somewhere being kept in a dark damp basement somewhere in Serbia under lock. Will the Real DARKO please stand up??
  7. OLD SKOOL HQ

    OLD SKOOL HQ All-Star

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    aaahhhhhhhhcccchhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

    when are we gonna realize that we blew it with this scank?:mad2:
    no organization is perfect ! The moon was full that night my friends, but if we took Melo, Wade or Bosh (sigh) where would their minutes come from? Would Tay be gone by now? Or Sheed? Or Rip? ..It just seems the gods were spinning that night and we took the bait on a guy who grew up reading his own press clippings. Remember, the eyes don't lie!!!!Look me in the eye, Darkoooooooooooooooooo.......
  8. Darth Tater

    Darth Tater All-Star Forum Donor 6x Fantasy Champion

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    Wishy Washy

    You may be right, of course, about Dumars blowing it, but like many others, I want to see him play this year before I agree with you. I think there is still hope that he can at least be a "good" player. What kind of numbers he needs for that, I surely don't know.

    I agree with you that if we had drafted someone else everything would be different. Maybe somehow it worked out for the best. Maybe not.

    At the time of the draft, I was very dissappointed they drafted Darko. I definitely wanted Carmello, but knowing what I know now it would have to be Wade without a doubt. Then again, look how well things turned out without Wade.
  9. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    So I looked up DMC's stats from the 2003 Men Championship playing for Hemofarm.

    Pretty decent #s but he was like the 3rd best scorer on his team.

    I'll give Darko shot blocking and passing but are we really supposed to be astonished that a 7 footer grabs 7 RPG?

    Attached Files:

  10. papaman

    papaman Second Round Draft Pick

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    Well guess what

    Rasheed averaged 6.9 rebounds per game last year, so let's not be so hard on young Darko, a rebounding machine he is not but neither is Rasheed; he can make a positive contribution to the team , maybe rebounding won't be it but scoring is not Ben's contribution and rebounding wasn't Elden's contribution, etc. but given the playing time with the multitude of skills he has, he will have a positive impact on the court
  11. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    The thread is about the article and pre-draft hype. I don't understand why DMC always gets qualified with (1.) look at whats-his-name or (2.) generalizations.

    That article is great marketing. But it doesn't even seem factually accurate to the information I could track down.

    It's not Darko's fault (I assume) that he was overhyped. But that doesn't mean he was not overhyped either.

    We'll all be happy with a solid player, a starter who makes a substantial contribution. The OP's article quote makes him sound like Wilt Chamberlain.
  12. Winless Wonders

    Winless Wonders Starter Forum Donor

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    The hype really did Darko in. The article makes Darko out to be this prototype Center that can put up a lot of points and shoot from the outside at a high %. Most centers in the NBA don't even average double digit points or rebounds anyway. So I don't know why the need to overhype Darko. He would have still been taken within the top 5 picks anyway on potential.

    I think if he can get on the court and not look lost and average 8 and 8 with 20 mins a game that would be a nice start.
  13. LA Sam

    LA Sam Second Round Draft Pick

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    When a 7 footer grabs 7 boards a game, you should be disgusted. Anybody remember Memo? He boarded as good as Ben a lot of nights, and out boarded him a few as well.

    On top of that, Memo could score! A few more years with the Pistons, and Memo could have settled into the PF spot along side Darko in our Jumbo offense.

    I've seen no evidence that Darko will ever be the scorer or rebounder that Memo was/is, but it is still early.
  14. LanierFan

    LanierFan Bench Warmer

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    Then again, if your evidence on Memo was limited (say, to this year's Eurobasket performance), you'd never think he could play for anybody.

    Aside from a stats monster like Dirk, NT duty doesn't seem to translate very easily into gaudy stats. For example, Tim Duncan averaged 9 rebounds for Team USA in 2004, as an MVP at the peak of his career. So an 18-year-old kid getting 7 isn't bad, especially in a 3-point happy environment where long rebounds trump good position in the paint.
  15. bricalz

    bricalz First Round Draft Pick

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    Darko Darko.

    I really think Darko can still be good. Even better. He just has to find his game. He must have left it unpacked when he came over here on draft night. I imagine him to be a defensive monster, great timing for blocks and cleaning up the glass. Has the nice touch for assists as well. ANd if possible he can turn into an all-star like Jermaine O'Neal when he wakes up and opens that suitcase and brings his offense every game.

    Wishful thinking? Maybe. But I'd sure like it to happen with the Pistons than have it happen with Darko signed somewhere else.

    I'm loving our rookies though. Acker and Johnson can be big-time steals. Jmax can be great as well but don't know where to play him.

    Looking back on that draft night, I was sold on Milicic like Joe. I didn't like Carmelo, and I still don't today. Attitude-wise he will never be a fit here. Wade would have been the consensus number 2 if it would have to be redone.

    YEAH, the best thing is nobody can argue the Milicic selection that year because we won the championship. And it will forever stay that way when talking about 2004 :eyebrows:
  16. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    Plenty of people can and will continue to argue it until Darko becomes a significant contributor. His peers from the draft are not just good, but in some cases great and became the face of their franchise.

    I never bought the argument that it was ok to draft him because we won the championship. Rookies on experienced squads usually see little more than role duty anyways. I don't think a case can be made that if we had drafted anyone else that year we would not have won.

    The only way the pick justifies itself is for Darko to become a starter in the next 2~3 seasons. And even then, he still needs to be more <insert super star big man name here> than Rasho Nesterovic.

    Thankfully Detroit fans can recognize good defense and if Darko continues to develop his defensive skills faster than his offensive ones, he will get credit for playing well without the ball.
  17. Jackattaq

    Jackattaq First Round Draft Pick

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    Here is where I have a problem with the argument of "earning PT" for a #2 pick. 99.9% of #2 overall picks go to bad teams. They are GIVEN free reign to make mistakes and learn on the job. I saw alot of Denver games in Darko's rookie season. Carmelo made alot of mistakes but he didn't have to look over his shoulder because he knew that his franchise had labeled him "the face of the franchise" and how dare they take him out? He was allowed to NOT PLAY D. He was allowed to chuck shots without repercussions. He was pretty much allowed to do as he pleased.

    Darko on the other hand has been in the exact opposite situation. If Darko sneezed too loudly LB would criticize him for it. Darko never got an opportunity to be comfortable. I don't know how he can be expected to be a "franchise type player when he hasn't played or ever gotten an opportunity to achieve any type of comfort level. Darko spent the few games that he played in looking over his shoulder. How could that allow for him to be comfortable?
    As far as taking a risk, with a #2 overall pick. Darko wasn't considered a risk when he was drafted. He was considered to be THE #2 PICK, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Joe didn't draft him for now, he took a gamble that we didn't need Darko that year, or the next, or EVEN THE NEXT. Joe looked long-term with the Darko pick. If Darko becomes what Joe envisioned, it sure makes re-signing Ben alot easier as far as leverage goes. (not that I want to lose Ben, but...NO MAX DEALS).

    I really didn't expect huge things from Darko his rookie season (despite the hype) but I did expect to see him playing some. He needed to play in games. If you get some "developmental minutes" you can learn what you need to work on. You get a sense of the speed of the game. Darko needed that PT his first year. Not significant PT but enough to guage what he needed to work on and how the game was played at the NBA level.

    I think the majority of Piston's fans are willing to give Darko this year to show us something. He is still "loved" at the Palace. The fans still cheer for him and call his name and erupt when he makes a play. I think this is his year to put up or shutup.
  18. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    While I admire the fans at the Palace, it would be nice if the Darko plays they cheered the most for were not related to approaching the scorer's table.

    I can see how enthusiastic everyone is for him (myself included) but the standing ovations when he tucks his drawstrings into his shorts and scuffles his shoes prior to actually entering the game is something you would expect on the Michael Jordan farewell tour.

    Like you said, this year is a big one for him.
  19. BigDaddy

    BigDaddy First Round Draft Pick

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    This is a huge year for him period.His development as far as some significant minutes in real games was held back due to LB not being comfortable with Darko's effort or earning his pt.Whatever the case he needs to make a huge leap for Darko kind this year.I think he does it but we shall see.On the bright side I guess besides the loss of pt in real game situations he has practiced against the best starters in the league.

    Playing time anywhere in minutes that mattered would have been better without a doubt.Look at it this way age wise he'd be in college playing or just coming out early but he gergitated from the U of Pistons.He'd also be farther ahead if his summers would have not been screwed up with contract(Hemofarm releasing rights) and injuries.
  20. FreshPrince22

    FreshPrince22 Bench Warmer

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    For anyone wondering... The former Serbian coach (who resigned after the loss to france) said on the news that he didn't play Darko because of inexperience, and that Darko will be a "Dominant" player very soon. He said he should be the starting center for years to come. So, apparantely he thinks he's better than Krstic right now.

    My guess is he was just afraid that if he played him and they lost, they'd blame it on that. Who knew they'd blame it on NOT playing him?

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