November 4, 2009

Donnie Darko

Laughing my f**king ass off at C. Black’s post on Eddie Curry, where is that guy anyway?

Who cares we got a new center and you most likely will not catch him at your local Kennedy Fried chicken. His name is Darko Milicic or in Serbian Дарко Миличић. Gotta love Wikipedia baby! The only thing I knew about Darko before coming to the Knicks is that he was drafted 2nd overall in the 2003 NBA draft after LBJ and before Melo. Also, that  the consensus around the L is that he never really lived up the expectations of a lottery pick with career averages of 5.5 ppg and 4.0 rpg over the course of 6 NBA seasons.

So I was not so enthused when Donnie Walsh acquired the 24-year-old 7 footer  for Quentin Richardson and cash considerations during the off-season. However, I did watch him during summer league and preseason and he impressed me with his shot blocking ability (1.2 BPG career average) and passing skill. Given our offensive scheme and Mike D’antoni’s infatuation with foreign-born players, I really think that Darko can contribute some effective minutes and prove to the league that he isn’t as bad as we all think he is.

Darko has size and runs the court very well for a 7 footer, he is also only 24 years old. He has played professionally since he was 17 and in 2006 led the Serbian national team to a FIBA World Championship. In his final game to clinch, he was matched up against reigning 2009 NBA champion Pau Gasol and put up 18 points 15 rebounds and 3 blocks. Though he didn’t play much, he was the youngest player ever (18 years old) in the NBA to win a title with the Pistons in 2004.

The lineup has been switched 3 times already in the past 4 games and it looks like coach has found his rotation but David Lee still is playing out of position at the 5 spot. What can it hurt to move D Lee to the PF position and start Darko at the center? He will give the Knicks a much-needed inside presence on both ends of the floor. His shot blocking ability can only help us on our already porous defense and the guy looks to be happy passing and blocking rather than chucking up shots.

This will also free up D Lee to play against players more his size. He’s been playing out of position for 3 seasons already and puts up close to a double double every night. I’d like to see what he can do playing the PF position for an entire season alongside a true center. This will  allow us to either sign him long-term and pair him up with an incoming free agent in 2K10 or to part with him since he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

I really believe that thrusting him into the starting lineup alongside a combination of Duhon, Hughes, Gallinari and Lee would show him how valuable an asset his size and athleticism can be. With Eddy Curry nowhere to be found, the Knicks should give the only big man they have on the team a shot to prove his worth. The Knicks have already been penned as lottery bound again this year but it doesn’t matter since that pick is owned by the Utah Jazz. I know about the 2010 plan and keeping under the cap yada yada yada, but I don’t know about the rest of you Knick fans, this one isn’t ready to settle for a 9th franchise record losing season regardless of who’s on the team. START DARKO!!!


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