All About 18: Darko, Collins & Wilcox

On today’s All About 18 edition, we take a closer look at the Boston Celtics’s deep big man pool featuring the recently acquired Darko Milicic and Jason Collins and the returning Chris Wilcox. 

Of the three, Milicic may be the most maligned for having been famously (or notoriously) drafted second overall by Detroit in 2003 behind LeBron James and ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh – and being the least accomplished of that quintet.  Although he owns a championship ring from his run with the ’04 Pistons, his on-court exploits have so far been subpar.  In nine campaigns with five NBA teams, the 7’0”, 275-lb. Darko registered averages of only 6.0 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.  The good news, though, is that the 27-year-old is on the upswing – having submitted career-bests (8.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg and 2.0 bpg) with Minnesota in 2010-11 – just prior to last year’s lockout-shortened campaign (when he fell out of favor with Wolves coach Rick Adelman).   Also on the plus side, Darko reportedly joined the Celts on a minimum deal (around $850,000) which makes him a good, low-risk acquisition.

Collins, meanwhile, is an 11-year vet who signed with the team over the summer and carries with him a hefty reputation as a physical, defensive stopper.  Through tours with New Jersey, Memphis, Minnesota and Atlanta, the 7’0”, 255-lb. Stanford alum listed career averages of only 3.8 points and 3.9 rebounds, but he earned his NBA keep with skills undetectable by statistics.  He explains his role with the Celtics here.  Apart from his muscle and hustle (and six available personal fouls), the 33-year-old Collins is expected to provide mentorship for young bigs like Fab Melo, Jared Sullinger and even Darko and Brandon Bass.

Wilcox is the lone returnee among the three as he enters his second season in Green following an injury-shortened 2011-12 campaign.  The 6’10”, 235-lb. 10-year vet was getting comfortable as the C’s backup 5 last February with averages of 7.2 points and 6.0 boards when doctors discovered a heart irregularity (oddly, just a few months after Jeff Green was diagnosed with a heart aneurism) that forced him to sit out the rest of the season.  Waived by the team in March, Wilcox has since had surgery and recovery and now returns to Boston with a new contract and a renewed outlook.  “This is a blessing for me to even be here right now, so I’m just going to take advantage of the situation and all the opportunities that have been coming my way,” Wilcox said.  “It’s a blessing that I’m able to come back to a team where I can kind of pick up where I left off.”

And picking up where the C’s left off in the last playoffs is the mission these three bigs will look to undertake once the 2012-13 season kicks off and the drive for #18 begins.