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|Milicic's Time is Coming
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|Author:||TADOne [ October 25th, 2005, 4:16 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Milicic's Time is Coming|
Pistons say Milicic's time is coming
By David DuPree, USA TODAY
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. ? Darko Milicic hasn't gotten enough playing time during the last two seasons to even earn a varsity letter. But each year, when the NBA trading deadline approaches, Detroit Pistons players parade to Joe Dumars to make sure he doesn't do anything stupid ? such as trade the multitalented 7-0 center, who rarely got on court under former coach Larry Brown.
"They keep telling me not to give up on him and that he can really play," says Dumars, president of basketball operations for the Pistons. "I just smile because they're preaching to the choir."
The rest of the league could be about to see what Detroit sees as Milicic enters his third season ? his first away from the hard-to-please Brown, his first under the more favorable eye of new coach Flip Saunders.
Milicic gained confidence from playing for Serbia & Montenegro in the European Championships during the summer and has shown he is ready to be a factor this season.
"It bothered me a lot that I never got a chance to play," Milicic says. "I was expecting just a chance to show Coach what I could do but I never got a chance to do that.
"If I had a chance to play and couldn't play, I could accept that, but I never got a chance."
Milicic ? taken in the 2003 draft behind No. 1 pick LeBron James and before Carmelo Anthony? has averaged only 5.8 minutes a game in two seasons. He entered 71 of a possible 164 regular-season contests and averaged 1.6 points.
James has played 40.9 minutes a game and averaged 24.1 points with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Anthony 35.7 minutes and 20.9 points with the Denver Nuggets.
Milicic also has two appearances in the NBA Finals, however, and a championship ring. James hasn't been to the playoffs with the Cavs, and Anthony's Nuggets were bounced in the first round twice.
Becoming ready for his time
A new Milicic has been showing himself this preseason. In six exhibition games, Milicic is averaging 7.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in 21.0 minutes.
"I'm not comparing him to Kevin (Garnett), but he is a lot like Kevin when we had him when he was younger," says Saunders, who coached Garnett for 10 seasons in Minnesota before being fired last season. "If you sat up in the stands and watched Kevin run, you thought he was 6-5 or 6-6. Darko is like that."
Milicic, who is left-handed, also has a nice shooting touch and an assortment of inside moves. He prefers to play facing the basket but also is effective with his back to it.
"I'm both excited and surprised," Saunders says. "It's going to be a long process for Darko because he is still only 20 years old and there are a lot of things he still has to go through to get where he wants to be. But you can see why he was drafted where he was drafted.
"We're going to use him because I think he can help us win."
Although he does play a finesse game, toughness has never been an issue with Milicic.
"He had to be tough at a very young age," Dumars says. "He grew up in war-torn Belgrade, and his father was on the front lines in Kosovo. His teammates are always speaking up for this kid. Guys just don't do that in this league unless you are for real and they believe in you."
Point guard Chauncey Billups, for example, is high on Milicic.
"I love what Darko has been doing," he says. "He's really been focused and been very good. He will definitely help us this year."
Adds Rasheed Wallace: "I always knew he could play. He just needed the time to get ready. Now he is."
Luck of the lottery
That Milicic is a Piston at all is a stroke of luck. The Pistons were only in the lottery in 2003 because they had obtained the pick from the Memphis Grizzlies when they were in Vancouver in 1997 as part of a deal involving Otis Thorpe.
Dumars could have taken Milicic or Anthony, who would have contributed sooner. But with Tayshaun Prince playing the same position and with a championship-caliber team in place, Dumars could afford to look well into the future. A 7-footer with Milicic's skills was just too enticing to pass up.
"If we were a different type of team or at a different stage, we might have looked elsewhere," Dumars says. "But looking at Darko and projecting, I knew that the first three or four years of his career we were going to be good no matter what, and he'd be ready when it was time for some fresh young blood in the mix. He's progressing like we thought he would."
The other Pistons have helped see to that. They tease him, as when he got arrested last week for driving with a suspended license. He was stopped because the tinted windows on his car were too dark; during the routine check, the police learned his license had been suspended because he hadn't paid a couple of outstanding tickets.
His teammates also support and push Milicic in practice.
"His teammates want him to be good, and so they work with him and pull for him," Saunders says.
What irks Dumars is critics ranting Milicic was a wasted draft pick.
"It amazes me how many people have an opinion of what he can and can't do, and they have never really seen him play," he says. "I have the patience of a parent. You have to see more than the young person himself, sometimes. ... Trust me, Darko is doing just fine."
|Author:||ChazMaster [ November 4th, 2005, 6:47 pm ]|
over 8 mins in the first game!! Larry Brown can kiss my *** for not playing him sometimes when the Pistons were so far ahead and lots of time remaining.. get to those last 2 or 3 mins and put him in.. he will bring some much rest time for Ben even if he doesn't score points..
also look at who he gets to learn from!!!
|Author:||ChazMaster [ November 18th, 2005, 11:14 pm ]|
did you see Darko stare down Muntombo (sp) in the Houston game?
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