Darko Milicic - A Serbian Assessment

As a Serb, albeit born and raised in the UK, I have followed the fortunes of all Serbian players in the NBA. Although not a fan of the TWolves,I have been following them since Darko was traded to the team. I thought you guys might find it interesting to read how a Serbian rates him as an NBA player.

First, I must admit I haven't seen many of the Twolves games (due to the time difference between CST and GMT). Most of what I have seen of his Twolves career are the Darko "highlights uploaded to Youtube.

I was able to see Sunday's game against the Bullets because it was on at 6PM GMT. To say Darko's performance was underwhelming would be an understatement.

As someone who had first seen Darko play for Serbia at the FIBA 2006 World Championships I could not believe this was the same player. It is no exaggeration to say he was probably "The Man" on that team and put in some outstanding performances.

These are my observations of Darko from the Bullets game.

1. He looks like he doesn't enjoy basketball. The guy looks like he is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders and would rather be anywhere else except on the basketball court.

2. He plays with such little aggression compared to his FIBA Serbian national team performances. Where's that little bit of hate you need to show to your opponent if you want to win the game?

3. His legs look like they are "heavy". He doesn't explode off the floor for rebounds or when taking the ball to the hoop.

4. I have never seen a Center who keeps his hands below his waist so much. When I was coached basketball I was taught to always keep my hands at chest level in order to be ready to catch a pass. Is no one coaching him these simple fundamental things? Or is Darko just not interested?

Monitoring the Serbian newspaper websites I came across a very interesting comment. It came from a diaspora Serb like myself, but who lives in Toronto. On a Serbian sports news website, this Toronto Serb commented that he had gone to the Raptors game because he wanted to see for himself why everybody calls Darko a "plank" or "dead wood." The poster wrote that as far as mobility, technique, and movement were concerned, Darko was by far the best Center on display. However, with regard to his mentality and attitude Darko was a "catastrophe."

The poster went on to write that Darko does not know how to try and looked totally disinterested. Whether this is because he is just fed up with everything he didn't know, but Darko looked like he was ignoring everything on court - he had just 3 rebounds...Kevin Love,the poster claimed - isn't talented but he fights like a Lion - he jumps non-stop, is always trying and pushing himself, always fighting.

The poster went on to compare Bargnani with Darko and said they appeared similar players but the difference appeared to be that somebody was at least pushing Bargnani to improve and play harder and therefore Bargnani was at least contributing to his team.

I wonder if this is true? If the Twolves were to get a hall-of-fame center to work daily with Darko would it improve his game? It seems to me he no longer has the desire to want to get better and is content to be a journeyman. He seems to resent what happened to him in Detroit and is content to use it as an excuse as to why he appears to have regressed after all this time in the NBA. He is, after all, a multi-millionaire so there's no need for him to work his ass off unless he had personal pride in wanting to improve himself and prove all his doubters wrong.

After the Bullets game I started to realise why you Twolves fan's would get so pissed at Darko. The guy is infuriatingly inconsistent. I think, because the Bullets are the worst team in the NBA right now, Darko's motivation was extremely low for the game and he seems to try harder against the better teams, as his performances against the Spurs and Lakers last season proved. But this is another reason why, mentally, he has the wrong attitude. If you can only get up for the big teams you aren't a real professional.

I hope Darko proves me wrong but I think I've decided Darko is what he is now and any hope he might turn into a solid player who contributes consistently to his team is a false hope.

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