We’ve long been discussing the problem with playing Kevin Garnett out-of-position. The real crux of the matter is whether it is problematic at all. Garnett is one of the all-time greats at the power forward position, and despite his lean build, he’s deceptively strong.
He can cover most of the bigger centers in the league, and probably still would do a better job with Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard than any of the true centers on the Celtics roster. While that is debatable, I agree, it isn’t far-fetched; Garnett’s defensive skills go far beyond just strength and athletic ability, but into the approach he takes mentally, not to mention you must factor in his off-the-charts basketball IQ, which also covers a multitude of shortcomings.
That said, there is still a serious increase in the Celtics’ rotation with the addition of Darko Milicic. Now, the Celtics have another seven-footer to bring off the bench. But the real question is, “Will they always bring Darko off the bench?” Might not Doc Rivers experiment with starting the No. 2 overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft?
While Darko has had mixed success as a starter, there’s something to be said for starting a guy at his natural position, and to be sure, Garnett is a power forward first. The problem here would be that it would take minutes away from Brandon Bass, who is unarguably a better player than Milicic. Bass needs his minutes.
But it can’t be looked at in such simple terms. Darko adds depth, and the more (strong) front court players the Celtics have, the better the rotations can be. Now, Fab Melo can be brought along very slowly. In addition, Jason Collins becomes almost obsolete. He will see minutes, but no longer will be relied upon so heavily. That’s a good thing, because Collins is absolute garbage, and is only a Dwight Howard stopper in mythical realms, as explained in CelticsBlog.com.
On July 12th, when I wrote of the possible addition of Darko following his being amnestied by the Timberwolves, I wrote that he could be “everything the Celtics need,” speaking not even in hyperbole, but simply addressing the fact that he fills a multitude of needs for the Celtics, especially defensively. Milicic can block shots, rebound, and hustle. The fact that he can hit mid-range jumpers only increases his value further.
It remains to be seen if Doc will consider starting Darko against bigger teams, teams that have premier centers, as a recourse to keeping Garnett out of foul trouble. One would have to figure that against the Eastern Conference foes like the 76ers, with Bynum, and the Indiana Pacers, with Hibbert, that Milicic may in fact start. Considering he’s on a minimum contract, the Celtics are getting a serious bargain.
Considering Kwame Brown made $9 million a year after signing with Golden State, the comparative value on Darko’s contract is off the charts. Score another big strike for Danny Ainge. After landing Courtney Lee for almost nothing, this offseason has to be considered one of the best in the league for the men in green & white.