Darko Milicic Not Actually a Horrible Passer, Still Not Vlade Divac

20 08 2010

I’m a little pressed for time today, so this will be ETO’s only post, and a short one at that. Hopefully it will warm your soul.

A few weeks ago, David Kahn reached new levels of buffoonery by calling Darko Milicic “manna from heaven” and the best big-man passer since Vlade Divac during a Summer League broadcast on NBA TV. This made Chris Webber giggle in amazement, and we all had a big laugh at Kahn’s (and Darko’s) expense.

We did so because both statements seemed obviously ridiculous. But Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook — the best new blog of the year, if you’re unfamiliar — wanted to find out exactly how stupid Kahn was, so he broke down a series of plays with Darko passing from all manner of places on the court.

Read the whole thing, because the videos and specific examples make the post. But here’s the meat:

In conclusion my opinion is that Darko is a decent passer, but not great (or even good for that matter), and personally, I think Kevin Love is a better passer.  He is above average in the high post during the flow of an offense.  He can hit a cutter going backdoor with a nice bounce pass and when a man is open, he can get it to him in a position to finish. However, when the offense breaks down or when he goes from the high post to the low post he turns into an absolutely terrible passer. In my opinion, Kahn’s interview with NBATV is just an example of taking one guys best skill (which is just average at best) and just going overboard when describing it.

In other words, Darko is fine at passing but nothing special. Yet Kahn decided to talk him up as the second coming of Bill Walton, presumably because he had to make a four-year, $21-million contract look legitimate and talk up his own moves.

What he did, though, was set expectations unreasonably high for a player who hasn’t found consistent success with any of his four NBA teams. Darko wasn’t stellar with the Wolves at the end of last season, but he found minor success in part because people didn’t have very high expectations for him; the same can be said of his solid play in 2006-07 with the Magic. A new contract was always going to raise expectations, but Kahn only made things worth with his inane rant.

There were other ways to discuss Darko’s skills. As Sebastian says, he’s not a bad passer, and it’s easy to hear Kahn say “when you team him with Kevin Love, we think we have one of the better interior passing combinations in the league.” That might not be 100-percent true, but it’s not so full of hyperbole that you question whether or not the speaker is on drugs.

In Darko and Michael Beasley, Kahn has taken on two players in need of a fresh start where people will focus on their basketball skills instead of their reputations and past failures. But in both cases — please remember Kahn’s since-fined comments on Beasley’s love of marijuana — he’s either set expectations too high or made it so people can’t look past old indiscretions.

Look, Kahn is not a very good GM, but many of the players he picks up have some talent. What makes him truly terrible, though, is his penchant for sabotaging those players before they get a chance to show their abilities.