Opening the NBA Playbook: Darko's Passing Is Okay
Maybe you’ve heard of Sebastian Pruiti. He’s been holding a takeover of the NBA blogging world over the past year with his great coverage of the New Jersey Nets on NetsAreScorching.com and getting his Hubie Brown on at NBAPlaybook.com. Not many bloggers and analysts can break down aspects of basketball the way he does.
Bassy (Nets blogger Bassy not Coney Island’s Through The Fire Bassy) decided to break down Darko Milicic’s passing ability. This was inspired by the hilariously hilarious NBATV David Kahn interview during a summer league game last month in which he compared Darko’s passing ability to biblical snacks from the highest of high powers. It left most people scratching their heads while it gave the Kahn-Darko supporters something to spout off as a defense of the past year while hoping someone created a diversion for them to slip out the back door.
First, let’s take a look at the numbers really quick. Darko averaged 1.8 assists and 1.4 turnovers in his 24 games with the Timberwolves, good for an Assist to Turnover ratio of 1.3. That number isn’t all that bad, considering the average among centers who played at least 15 minutes per game is 0.93 (Darko was ranked 14th). However, it doesn’t really tell the whole story, because turnovers can happen at any time (instead of purely passing turnovers), and as everyone knows, assists are a really tough statistic to keep track of. So that means we have to look at the video tape to really get a feel of Darko’s passing ability.
In the flow of an offense where he doesn’t have to make a decision (and he can just throw a pass), Darko is actually a good (but not great passer). Now, he is no Vlade Divac, but in my opinion he is slightly above average. The Timberwolves actually do a lot of cutting off of Darko when he has the basketball to take advantage of this. In fact, this is almost exclusively how he got his assists with the Wolves. If you go to Synergy and look up his assists, you see just about all his assists plays described as Cuts (and very little as spot up – more on this later).
Looking at the entire post and the video evidence Bassy provides to us, you can see that Darko is definitely not a bad passer. He has some ability and vision and works very well in the offense. But to compare him to some of the greatest passing big men of all time is just ludicrous. Darko isn’t bad but he isn’t good either. He’s okay. I don’t know if I’d sell average defense and okay passing for $20 million over four years but that’s going to be a debate we have constantly over the next four years.
On a scale of Yinka Dare to Vlade Divac, it looks like Darko’s passing is about a Dwight Howard.