You Don't Know the Power of the Darko Side!

I don't know how pumped other T-Wolves fans for this upcoming season, but I am absolutely psyched.  This last off-season was possibly the best in Timberwolves history (except the Garnett pick, of course).  We got Ricky Rubio, we got Derrick Williams, and most importantly we got Rick Adelman.  How awesome will these additions be for the Wolves?  We shall find out, but in the mean time I'm going to annoy all the Darko-haters.

This year will be pivotal for Darko Milicic's career in the NBA.  He recently turned twenty six; while not early in his career, there is still room for growth.  With the arrival of the lauded Rick Adelman, 2011 could blossom into a great season for one of the most ridiculed players in NBA history.  Adelman's accomplishments to this point rank amongst the best all-time, while Darko's aren't exactly legendary, to say the least.  He's Infamous for the 2003 NBA Draft where he was selected second overall, before the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. He is also the youngest player to ever win an NBA championship.

The NBA lockout in 1998-99 was definitely a test for numerous player's will-power and discipline.  Some players like Shawn Kemp, Mitch Richmond and Vin Baker began noticeable declines in the league.  It makes me wonder if a guy like Darko Milicic (who has virtually disappeared since 2010-11 season finale), will not only stay in NBA shape but also improve; I guess only time will tell.

Returning to Adelman's affect on Darko's impending season, let's take a look at Adelman's previous big men and how they stack up with the Serbian wolf. I'll do this by comparing the year prior to Adelman's arrival to his first year as Coach for that player:

  1. Kevin Duckworth - C - Portland Trail Blazers

1987-88 Per Game


 28.5 - 15.8 -  7.4   -   0.4  -  0.8  - 14.9

1988-89 Per Game

 33.7 - 18.1 -  8.0  -   0.4   -  0.8  - 13.9

  Entering his third season in the league and with Portland, Duckworth had arguably the best season of his career in Adelman's first year as the Blazers Head Coach.  Duckworth's career-high in minutes, points and rebounds per game translated for Duckworth's career as he continued to start for Adelman for the next four seasons.  This may be a direct result of the boost in minutes, but extra minutes almost always translate into more production from game to game.  Needless to say, Darko will have to prove himself in order to get significant minutes this year as the Wolves are rather crowded in the front court. On a side note both are lefties and are nearly the same size at 7 foot 275 pounds.

2. Vlade Divac - C - Charlotte Hornets > Sacramento Kings

1997-98 Per Game


28.2 - 10.4  -   8.1  -  1.5   -  2.7  -19.4

1998-99 Per Game


35.2  - 14.3 - 10.0  - 1.0   -   4.3  - 18.0

Vlade Divac's career looked to be on a downward trend during his stint with the Charlotte Hornets, but that was no longer the case when the Kings brass was able to acquire Adelman and Divac following the lockout.  The combination showed good chemistry and good results as the Kings made the playoffs in the shortened season but were eliminated in the first round.  Milicic and Divac actually have quite a bit in common; each hail from Serbia and a few sources identify both of them smokers, which most likely won't help Darko.  Maybe Adelman knows some Serbian by now, although he'll probably want to know more Spanish for this year. Now here's a guy who could use some Rosetta Stone.

3. Yao Ming - C- Houston Rockets

2006-07 Per Game


33.8  - 25.0 -  9.4   -   2.0  -  2.0  - 26.5

2007-08 Per Game


37.2 - 22.0 -  10.8  -  2.0  -   2.3  - 22.5

The Yao Ming Situation is hard to judge because of his frequent injuries.  Regardless, there's no denying that he also saw a sufficient increase in minutes, recording a career-high in MPG and also in RPG with almost eleven. It's tough to say whether or not Yao benefited from the addition of Adelman to the Rockets as he did see a drop-off in PPG and PER as well, but that also may have been tied to Yao's injury trouble.

After taking a glance at Adelman's main big men (with the exception of Golden State) before and after Adelman's arrival, a few things jump out.  A significant increase in minutes occurred with all three of these centers, so with Darko at just 24.4 MPG under the unpredictable Kurt Rambis last season, I think it's reasonable to believe Darko could get an increase in minutes this season. 

Now, there are a few factors that could decide whether or not this becomes reality:

1. Anthony Randolph - There were rumors that Randolph put on twenty pounds or so, and if that's the case he would be up to size with many other NBA centers, at the height of 6"11'.  Randolph offensive skills are uncanny and undeniably better than Darko's low-post weapons.  On the other hand, even with Randolph's solid offensive production, Darko's defensive impact may be enough to land Darko the starting job for the second consecutive season.

2. Nikola Pekovic - I can think of one thing I know Pek's been doing this off-season--he's been ballin' it up in Europe. As the starting center for the Montenegran national team and also the Euroleague's Partizan Belgrade.  If you watch these games, you'll notice Pekovic playing nearly the whole game and putting up solid numbers night in and night out (16 PPG and 7 RPG this year in Euroleague and 16.6 PPG and 6.6 RPG in the Adriatic League).  While we know for sure that Pekovic will be ready to rock, there hasn't been any off-season activity with least not from the media.  Hell, maybe he's been in a constant 'Rocky' training montage this off-season, ready to prove all his doubters wrong; let's hope so anyways.

3. Anthony Tolliver - I personally think he might be a bit small to start at center, but I've heard people say Tolliver's constant effort and tenacious style of play would make up for his height and should earn him more minutes as the center; not that 6" 9' is short or anything, it's just kind of just short for an NBA center.  Regardless, Tolliver will be a solid back-up for Milicic, Kevin Love, and dare I say Michael Beasley.  That's the good thing about the Wolves bench--versatility.  Randolph could play at 3, 4, or 5 and I could see Tolliver doing the same, and maybe even Beasley and Williams if the need ever arose (uber versatility).


Once the lockout is finally resolved, everyone's undying questions about the Timberwolves will finally be answered.  Can Rubio actually play,  will Derrick Williams usurp Beasley in the starting five and of course, how much will Darko score each game, 20 or 30?  Let's hope we like the results.

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