Keys to the Wolf Den: Darko Milicic's Impact Is More Than Stats-Deep
Eight points, eight rebounds, two assists, and one block in 19 minutes? Those are very decent numbers for an out of shape 7'1'' player who hasn't seen any true playing time or had a coach who's truly endorsing him.
Four points, two rebounds, and three blocks in 24 minutes? Ehh...Not impressive except if anyone actually watched the game against Miami, in which the Wolves won, and noticed that Darko did so many things that just won't show up on the stat sheet.
Simply put, Darko is big and very, very mobile for his size. I mean, the guy can really cover some ground, and he oftentimes beats out Ryan Gomes on the fast break. He closed out shooters on the perimeter and was able to really change a lot of shots on the perimeter, as well as on the interior (three blocks in 24 minutes).
Simply put, yes, the two rebounds from a seven-footer are not impressive. The 12, 11, and eight by Kevin Love, Al Jefferson, and Ryan Gomes were. Why? Because of Darko clearing space with his solid frame to give them true space to rebound.
How about tapping the ball out to the perimeter? I know I know, very basic things, but to a Wolves fan who hasn't had these things before in the form of a seven-footer, these are huge qualities. Not to mention that Darko primarily played next to Kevin Love, and it's always hard to rebound with a guy gobbling up 12 boards in 30 minutes.
We're talking about 7'1'', an easy 280 pounds of muscle, and athleticism for someone his size.
Darko is also able to pass the ball off the low block very well. Heck, he's able to pass the ball very well period. He's very unselfish and does not force anything at all, probably due to his confidence level being so impacted due to sitting down on the bench. He's left-handed too. That always got to help.
Setting a screen? Hitting jump hooks with his left hand? Being truly big?
I know, these things are typical, and it's sad that I as a Wolves writer/fan see it that way, but it's due to being put through true mediocrity for so long.
Thanks for reading!
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