Darko Milicic Turning Heads...

Discussion in 'Detroit Pistons' started by mike18946, Jun 23, 2003.

  1. mike18946

    mike18946 JBB

    Jan 29, 2003
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    <div class="quote_poster">Quote:</div><div class="quote_post">LeBron James is the acknowledged No.1 draft choice, but a kid who turned 18 Friday, six days before the NBA draft, might turn out to be every bit as valuable.

    The Detroit Pistons, with the second selection in Thursday's draft, will take Darko Milicic, a 7-footer from Serbia and Montenegro with much potential.

    Coach Larry Brown is expected to ease Milicic into a front line that already includes two-time NBA defensive player of the year Ben Wallace and playoff standout Tayshaun Prince. Given time to mesh, that unit could make the Pistons Eastern Conference championship contenders by next spring.

    "Technically, he is ready for play in the NBA. Mentally? Well, he should prove himself. He is very competitive," said Antonio Rodriguez in an e-mail interview. Rodriguez writes for ACB.com, a website that covers Spanish and European basketball.

    "This year, Milicic showed tremendous growth," Rodriguez said. "Last year, when I saw him for the first time, he was a youngster with a youngster's body. He was a 7-footer with tremendous speed and coordination who handles the ball well, can shoot from the outside and can drive inside. This season the change is that his game is even more complete, he rebounds better and he takes advantage of the low post much more."

    Rodriguez said Milicic brings a fiery, competitive attitude to the court and that, unlike some international players, he isn't afraid to assert himself on both ends.

    "He always wants [to beat] you on the court," Rodriguez said. "No trash-talking, but trash play sometimes. He will learn to be intense every minute on defense. He blocks shots very well near the rim. He has good timing and long arms and very good hands."

    The big kid emerged as the best of this year's international crop when he helped lead the then-Yugoslavian youth team to the 2001 European championship. He was also a member of the Yugoslavian team in the 2002 World Under-20 championships, but did not play in that tournament as a 17-year old.

    Rodriguez said Milicic resembles Spain's Pau Gasol, a silky inside player for the Grizzlies, and Tim Duncan, rather than Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki or Detroit's Turkish big man, Mehmet Okur.

    "He is left-handed, which is important in big men, and he is patient. I think he will be able to work against low-post players like Duncan." Rodriguez said.

    When the Pistons worked out Milicic, the native of Novi Sad, Montenegro, did more than enough.

    "Darko had a very good workout and was impressive," Pistons general manager Joe Dumars said. "He has a chance to be a very good player in this league."

    Milicic said through an interpreter he would be happy in Detroit "because of Ben Wallace."

    Milicic attended the NBA's Chicago draft camp in the first week of June but did not play.

    Like many of the international players who have made an impact in the NBA recently, Milicic may be young, but he is not inexperienced in the professional game. He turned pro in 2000-01 when his club, Hemofarm Vrsac, was promoted to Yugoslavia's first division, and although he had to battle for playing time on a veteran team, his numbers have improved.

    Milicic was especially effective in the North European Basketball League, an elite international club tournament. He averaged 14.2 points in 10 games in the NEBL, an improvement on his 9.5-point average in 20 YUBA contests last season.

    He had a 37-point game against Skonto Riga of Latvia and scored 23 against PAOK Saloniki from Greece, one of Europe's strongest leagues.

    What no longer is an issue is the way NBA teams look at the world talent pool. China's Yao Ming was the top pick a year ago and Gasol was taken in the third spot in 2001 as the international stock has risen dramatically since Nowitzki was tabbed as an unknown with the ninth selection in 1998.

    International players don't play as long a game (the world game is played in four 10-minute quarters) or as long a season, but they have already learned to live away from home and European-wide travel can be as extensive as the constant hops NBA teams make in their season.

    Milicic has named Minnesota's Kevin Garnett and the Spurs' Duncan as players he respects, and after the workout in Detroit he said his quickness was his biggest asset.

    If there is a concern, Rodriguez says, it is a temper that needs to be brought under control.

    "Talking too much with referees ... or screaming at them," Rodriquez said when asked if Milicic had any particular weakness.

    But the Spanish reporter said that was merely a sign of youth and competitiveness, not a caution flag.</div>

    Very interesting 8)

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