Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Darko vs. Joey

Tale of the Tape

When Joe Dumars initially made Darko Milicic the second pick in the 2003 NBA draft, it was met with much criticism since it meant passing up on Carmelo Anthony. Now that Dwyane Wade is one of the top five players in the NBA, the Darko pick is regarded as one of the worst picks in NBA history rivaling the Nets picking Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan. However, I’m not convinced that the Darko pick was bad other than the fact that Wade was available (as well as Anthony and Chris Bosh). It’s important to remember that Wade was not overly impressive in college and the Denver Nuggets picked Carmelo Anthony ahead of him. That aside, it’s possible that Darko wasn’t even the worst top three draft pick in Detroit in the last three years. The Lions took Joey Harrington second overall in the 2002 draft. Harrington hasn’t exactly panned out as the Lions had hoped. The following is a comparison of the Darko and Joey picks:

(This is NOT meant to compare the players or declare one better than the other. This is merely a comparison of the decision to draft the players and how that decision has turned out thus far. In a way, it's also a comparison of Joe Dumars and Matt Millen.)



Age next season:


Darko: 20

Darko is still one of the youngest players in the NBA. He’s not even "on the clock" yet in terms of needing to contribute. His age makes it possible for Darko to still have an impressive NBA career despite riding the bench for two years.


Joey: 27

Joey is still relatively young. Many quarterbacks (i.e. Rich Gannon, Kurt Warner) don’t peak until much later. However, Darko has seven years on Joey. Joey’s "on the clock" right now.


Advantage: Darko






Drafted:


Darko:

Was taken second overall in the 2003 NBA lottery.

Joey:

Was taken third overall in the 2002 NFL draft. Both the Pistons and the Lions used a very high pick on Darko and Joey.

Advantage: Push





Taken ahead of:

Darko:

Darko was taken ahead of Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh. Wade is all ready one of the best players in the NBA. Anthony has made significant contributions for Denver and Bosh is a very talented player with the ability to improve dramatically. Clearly, any of these three players would’ve been a better pick than Darko.

Joey:

Scanning the rest of the first round shows quite a few solid contributors. Mike Williams OT Texans, Q Jammer CB Chargers, and B. McKinnie OL Vikings are just a few of the names that people will recognize. While the Lions may have been better off selecting someone else, the players that the Lions passed on don’t compare to the players that the Pistons passed on.


Advantage: Joey





Potential:

Darko:

Darko’s potential is the same as it ever was. Some people may argue differently but nobody really knows what he’s capable of. The Pistons big men rave about his potential but it’s not like they’re going to say he sucks. He’s a seven footer with range. Despite his lack of playing time, the sky is still the limit for Darko.

Joey:

There’s no question that Joey’s potential has taken a dip since he was drafted. He was pegged as a smart, mobile quarterback with the ability to lead an offense. In all honesty, I haven’t seen any of that in his three seasons in Detroit. There’s no question in my mind that he will improve but his potential was far greater three years ago.


Advantage: Darko





Importance of position:

Darko:

Finding a skilled center in the NBA is like finding gold. Some teams were even saying that they would’ve taken Darko ahead of Lebron at #1. It’s not hard to find a center to draft but it’s extremely difficult to find a skilled seven footer who can shoot and run the floor.

Joey:

A franchise QB is the most coveted position in the NFL especially in Detroit. However, there are “franchise” capable QB’s every year. If you pass on a QB one year, there will usually be one or two with as much upside the next year. A center is not necessarily more important than a QB, but a skilled center is a rarity while QB’s with upside are a dime a dozen.


Advantage: Darko






Team’s success:

Darko:

The Pistons have won 1 NBA championship while making 2 NBA finals appearances.

Joey:

The Lions have won 14 games in three seasons with Joey at the helm. No playoffs and no .500 records.


Advantage: Darko






Team need:

Darko:

The Pistons were a talented team with a deep bench. Darko was not expected to have significant playing time.

Joey:

The Lions have been looking for a franchise QB for decades. They thought they had one in Harrington. The lions desperately needed Joey despite his struggles and put him to work immediately.


Advanteage: Joey





On the field:

Darko:

Darko has averaged 5.8 minutes per game and 1.6 points per game in two seasons. He hasn’t contributed any meaningful minutes.

Joey:

Joey has a 67.2 career passer rating. He has thrown 48 Td’s and 50 Int’s. I’m sure some people could make the argument Joey has the advantage here because he actually has contributed. However, what good is a contribution if it has been a detriment to the team? Joey has stats and Darko doesn’t but Joey’s stats are awful.

Advantage: Push





Effect on organization:

Darko:

Darko has had zero impact on the Pistons. It’s as if he doesn’t exist. The Pistons have been able to contend for the NBA championship the last few years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Joey:

Harrington has been nothing but inconsistent as the Lions quarterback. The offense has been inept at best. It is likely that any free agent would’ve given the Lions what Harrington has produced in the past three years.


Advantage: Darko





Public Opinion:

Darko:

The Darko pick has been ridiculed as one of the worst picks in NBA history.

Joey:

Joey was met with open arms by most Detroit fans. The pick was widely considered a no-brainer since the Lions have long coveted a franchise qb.


Advantage: Joey








Winner: Darko 5-3-2





Judging from the Tale of the Tape, the Darko pick actually turns out to be better than the Joey pick. Most fans point to Wade and Anthony’s success as well as Darko’s lack thereof, as the reason for this being such a poor pick. However, Joe Dumars made it clear from the very beginning that Darko was someone who could develop on the bench while the Pistons succeeded on the court. When Joe D said publicly that he didn’t expect anything from Darko for at least three years, people accepted that stance. After one season, these same people began to jump ship and ridicule Darko and the Pistons for the pick. Nevermind that Joe D set a timetable for Darko’s contributions from the get go. The problem here isn’t the Darko pick. The problem is that the critics have decided to speed up the Darko timetable that they initially accepted. Why would people do this? It’s hard to watch Wade, Anthony and Bosh making contributions while Darko sits on the bench. But, if you accept Joe D’s plan at the time of the draft, how can you abandon it halfway through? The Darko pick is not nearly as bad as it has been made it out to be in the media. Darko is 20. Most picks in NEXT year’s draft will be older than Darko. I don’t know how successful Darko’s career will be. However, I am tired of hearing all the complaints about the Darko pick when we don’t know anything more about Darko now, that we didn’t know three years ago.

If you want to rip on Darko, rip on him for breaking his hand in the NBA finals last year causing him to miss the summer league. Rip on him for complaining about playing time. Rip on him for wearing an earing bandage during games. Rip on him for his amazingly high percentage of airballs in garbage time. Just stop ripping on the Darko pick until the deal that was agreed on runs its course. It is definitely possible that in a few years, the Joey pick could look much better but we'll have to wait and see.

4 comments:

Larry Lactose said...

Joey is awful.
Long live Darko!!!

1smrtumer said...

Joey is indeed dreadful . . . but with KJ at RB, and greatest collection of WR "talent" in NFL history (Williams X 2 + C Rogers), perhaps there is hope. Key is C Rogers . . . absolutely has to stay healthy for the 3-wide look to succeed. If all WRs hold, KJ will crush . . . probably to the tune of 1500-1800 yds, 12-15 TDs.

All Joey has to do is not make the killer mistakes . . . and Mariucci has to open up the playbook to get all the young offensive talent in the flow of the game.

They should be 10-6 or 11-5 this year on offense alone . . .

Phil Sands said...

Your Darko analysis is a little short-sighted. It wasn't just a Darko-Wade-Anthony issue. Below them have been a number of talented contributors. Chris Bosh is the entire Raptors franchise at this point. Kirk Hinrich is a fantastic point guard for the Bulls.

The problem for Darko is that he listened to his own pre-draft press, and now to his post-draft press. He still carries the ego of a number two pick who thinks he deserves P.T., while having a completely devastated self-confidence level. If the guy recovers to provide 10-10, it will be a minor miracle.

I don't have anything to say about Joey. He sucks. Until he proves otherwise, he will be just another Lions misstep. Certainly something the franchise felt it had to do, but a mistake nonetheless.

Jake said...

Phil, first thanks for the comments. I think we agree on more than you think. I alluded to Bosh twice in referring to players that were better than Darko. As for Hinrich, I simply chose to compare the top three players (so far) in each draft. If I were picking all players that were better than Darko and Joey, it would've been a really long list. Joey is probably no better than the 25th best player in the draft he was taken in.

I think we differ in one place though. It pretty much is a Darko-Lebron-Carmelo issue. Lebron and Carmelo are head and shoulders above Darko and everyone else in the draft. If those two players weren't in that draft, people would be more willing to see Joe D's original timeline through. Since they've had so much success, impatience has taken over. Bosh and Hinrich are very good and I'd love to have either one over Darko but if those were the only two (no lebron or wade) then I doubt people would be so down on Darko. I'm worried too. Believe me. It's just that the guy is 20.

 

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