Kevin Durant: 'Darko Milicic Is One of the Best Centers in the NBA'

Timber WolfAnalyst IINovember 23, 2010

LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 9:  Darko Milicic #31 of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots over Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on November 9, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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Did a NBA MVP candidate utter the words Darko Milicic is one of the best centers in the NBA?

What in the world would make a player of Durant's caliber say things about the biggest colossal bust ever in NBA history? Did KD just hit his head? Did Darko knock him on his high horse or something of that nature?

I don't know if Kevin Durant meant what he said, but I got to assume that maybe just maybe Kevin Durant isn't a mental headcase. Would I agree with him? No, but over the last few games, Darko has played like it.

Let me reiterate, I've always said that Darko could be a solid center, someone who can post 10 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks, very solid numbers. Would I say "one of the best"? Let's discuss this.

Last 4 games:

  • 13 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks.
  • 11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, 1 steal
  • 23 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 blocks, 2 steals
  • 21 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks

Not too shabby huh?

Darko Milicic started off on record pace to having the worst field goal percentage in NBA history, quite frankly it was the ugliest output I've ever seen. As of late? This Darko is different and it's credited by the coaching staff and the increased confidence in the Timberwolves organization.

Let me reiterate.

Darko Milicic as of the last 2 games has been a Darko that I've never seen before, and no I'm not drinking any Darko cool aid. The energy is off the charts for him, his offensive maneuvers have taken notches up ten fold, and his confidence is blooming. Darko secretly is playing like he can play with the very best of the bigs in the NBA. He was even smiling.

Now I look at this 25 year old center and say that the sky is the limit for him, and it just depends on if he wants it.

Physically, we think his shots and moves can get better, " Rambis said. "Those are all back-to-the-basket things he's doing now. He has a facing-the-basket game, too, that he hasn't gotten to the point where he's confident in. He can pass the ball, handle it. Obviously he can defend and block some shots, rebound the ball. I don't know what his limit is. But when you have someone of his size (7 feet 1 inches, 275 pounds), length and strength and mobility? It's hard to discern what their limit is."

The coaching staff has confidence in Darko, Michael Beasley has confidence in him too.

"I tell him that all the time: Dunk the ball!" Beasley said. "He's getting better with it. That little jump hook, that's his shot. Nobody can stop that. He's 7-foot and you really can't do nothing with that."

Beasley on if Darko doesn't care about efficiency.

"If people think that about him, that's where they're wrong," Beasley said. "Darko's real tough on himself. Unless he's perfect, he's not happy. Darko is as passionate as anybody on this team. He misses a shot, no matter how he misses it, he's down. He's in the gym early, shooting a million jump hooks a day.

"Darko's talented. He makes it look easy. He's real nonchalant. That's him as a person. But Darko, he works as hard, if not harder, than people ever understand."

Watching him over the next few games, he's actually made the Timberwolves offense better. He's drawing constant double teams and hitting the open man for open shots. Remember what Darko said before he was traded to the Wolves.

"I don't give a bleep about the money," Milicic said. "I just want to enjoy the basketball. I'd like to have the ball in my hands and have an offense run through me. I'm not just a defensive player."

Let's see how the season progresses, but like head coach Kurt Rambis said, it's hard to guage what  players potential is. He's a legit 7 footer with the weight to go along, he has an unique a skill set that you will find in the NBA, he plays instinctively, is long and athletic and is being given the green light like he's never been given before.

Get em Darko


EDIT: More quotes and analysis on Darko's game against the Thunder:

Thunder coach Scott Brooks declared Milicic "as tough an offensive player down on that right block as we have seen in a while" and Durant simply said, "Darko was unbelievable tonight. We couldn't stop him."

"I told y'all, that's Darko Milicic, that's how he plays," Beasley said. "He's capable of doing that every night. It doesn't surprise me. Darko plays like that every night, we got a good chance to win the game, just like tonight. We had the chance. We were down big, when we got up, it was because of him. He makes a lot happen for us."

"The last time I felt like that was the last time I played in Serbia," he said. "Eight years."

"We just got to find a way to finish off these close games," Darko said afterward. "We know this is a good team (Thunder), a playoff team. We still got to find a way to finish up. We were up 5 or 6, we couldn't finish off the game. I think we're going to get there. I think we're going to get there soon."

"I feel comfortable," he said "We had a lot of fun. We had that run. We had a lead, so you saw us having fun, playing well. At the end of the game, we just couldn't finish up "

Straightforward, the Thunder won that game because they started fronting Darko in the post. If Darko keeps getting the ball, Wolves win that game easily. That is all!