Whit Watson on Darko and more
"Matt invited me over here, but now I think he might be trying to kill me... seriously, as one of the last twelve NBA fans on earth, I apppreciate a good debate.Up front, let me say that as a former Magic employee, I tend to sympathize with GM's and coaches in general. Yes, there are some bad ones, but even the so-called "idiots" are more intimately involved in the game than you and I could ever dream of being. None of them make decisions for the hell of it -- okay, except maybe Isiah.So why should Howard be a center and not a PF? Because in the Eastern Conference, there's only one center who can match up with him offensively, and he's on the tail end of his career down in Miami (and was never a big fan of defense even when a youthful member of the Magic). Exploiting matchups is a very big deal to coaches and GM's. Fact is, Howard is a bitch to guard and now has the body to match up with any center in the conference. Head to head, Howard beats just about every other player at the center spot in the East. As for Darko - I'm cautiously optimistic that he will turn out to be as good as he appeared for the final few months of last season. My only concern about him is this: Detroit didn't play him for a reason. There HAD to be a reason. If he's that talented - and it appears he is - something else had to be at work behind the scenes, and it's not just a glut of talent on that Pistons title team from a couple years back. Again, coaches and GM's make decisions based on reason, not emotion. Looks like Dumars correctly spotted the talent when he drafted Darko ahead of Carmelo - but then the kid didn't play, and they traded him for contract space. As a lifetime NBA guy, that makes me nervous.Assuming that he was A. young, B. homesick, C. whatever, and is now happy and acclimated, I see no reason not to give him big minutes in Orlando. Starter or bench is irrelevant - what matters is who's on the floor in crunch time. If Darko comes off the bench, but plays 30 minutes a game and is on the floor for the final two minutes, that's maximizing his value as much as naming him a starter. Personally, I'd love to think that the Magic have enough depth to use him as a spark off the bench, but I have no problem with him starting, either. He's a long-range threat as a PF, can block shots, and will outsize most of the players he matches up with (that exploiting matchup thing again). If his ego requires him to be a "starter" in order to be happy, do it. Like I said, it really doesn't matter as much as we think it does.Hope that makes sense. Thanks for the invite. See you on TV.