I've long been a big fan and supporter of Darko's since first hearing about him prior to the draft. The thought of a guy with Dirk's skill set who could play defense too? Sounded too good to be true. He tested out great with some of the best physical agility numbers every for a player of his height. The Pistons took him at #2 instead of disrupting their core by taking a player like Wade, Anthony or Bosh who would have had a hard time breaking into the rotation. He never played. His confidence was destroyed. He's never been the same since.
The question is: can he be the player we all hoped he'd be?
Now I won't deny Darko has had some chances at playing some decent minutes. What player are we seeing though? The Darko that the Pistons drafted? Or the Darko he has been turned into by NBA standards saying he had to be a back to the basket center? By now I'm sure everyone has seen some footage of the 2006 FIBA championships. If not take a look at some clips.
I can't help but feel like I can relate to him in a distant way. I'm only about 6'2" and always wanted to be a PG on my high school and travel type teams. However, I live in San Jose, not exactly a hoops hotbed and out here if you are 6'2" and on the average high school team you are a PF or even sometimes a C. So what happened? I practiced and played like a 4/5. I was miserable and my play was pretty bad. Granted, there were benefits to learning some post moves and playing down low, but it wasn't my game. I think the same thing has happened to Darko. Whether it be Larry Brown or his agent or whoever got in his head, it doesn't really matter who, somebody told him to stop being who he was and to be someone they thought he should be.
The Darko who took jump shots, shot fade-aways and drove to the basket without needing to be on the fast break is for some reason gone, or at least dormant. 2006 was 5 years ago and a lot has happened. I just don't see why either Darko chose to eliminate this side of his game or if coaches have merely told him that that is not the player he should be and he has listened accordingly. Either way it is really sad that he has gone from a true stretch 4 into a player who is an obviously uncomfortable back to the basket 5 who has only taken one shot I can recall outside of 10 feet the last 2 seasons (funny enough a long jumper he made against the Lakers towards the end of the 09-10 season)
I still hold out hope he can be that Dirk/Bosh-esque stretch 4 player on offense and it may just be a pipe dream of mine that will go unfulfilled. It's always unfortunate when someone with such great potential doesn't amount to what he could have. It's unfortunate that this preseason is so short because Adelman really won't have much time to work with players on individual skill development because I'd really like to see if he could get that extra dimension out of Darko. I'm also hoping that Brad Miller could also help Darko with this side of his game since Miller eventually became a shooting big man as he got older and maybe could help Darko find that part of his game again.
Just a pipe dream and maybe all I'll have to look back on are the youtube videos of the promise he once had, thinking that some season it may all finally come together.