What Could Have Been if the Pistons hadn't drafted Darko Milicic

David LeneyCorrespondent IMarch 3, 2008

Let me preface this with the following statement:  Joe Dumars can do no wrong for me, not when he was a player and not as a GM. 

         When you watch a Pistons home game the camera usually ends up on Dumars, once, maybe twice a game.  The same, cold as ice expression exudes from his face, similar to the expression Doyle Brunson or Phil Ivey exhibit when they’re taking all of your chips. 

         He remains stoic and calculating in his demeanor, and there’s a quiet confidence about him, the kind that gives you the impression that he’s always five steps ahead of you. 

He tells it how it is, doesn’t make trades for the sake of making them, and best of all hasn’t used the “rebuilding” excuse to death the way many of the leagues more incompetent GM’s often do.  I live in Philadelphia, and by my estimation we’ve been “rebuilding” the 76’ers longer than it took the Egyptian’s to build The Great Pyramid of Giza.   


With everything Dumars has done as GM of the Pistons organization, he may be remembered more notably for the misfortune of drafting Darko Milicic 2nd overall in the 2003 NBA Draft. 


I still think about it constantly, not so much about Joe Dumar’s reputation, the fans including myself have certainly forgiven him for that.  With that said, I still can’t help but wonder, just how great would the Pistons be if they hadn’t drafted Darko?  Who would they’ve taken instead, and which player would’ve ultimately been the best fit?

I went back to the 2003 draft to search for some answers. 

*(Assume the move to acquire Rasheed Wallace in 2004 was inevitable.)*

           Carmelo Anthony-No. 3 selected overall.   

           Why this could’ve worked-Anthony was arguably the most proven player in the draft.  He attended the prestigious Oak Hill Academy, and then went on to Syracuse University where he helped win their first and only National Championship.         

He also plays better when surrounded by other talented players.  That may seem like a bone-headed obvious statement, but not every player fits into that category. 


Anthony really established himself on the US National team as a go-to scorer, whereas Lebron James and Dwyane Wade (maybe out of lack of interest) weren’t nearly as impressive. 


With that said, the Pistons would’ve been a team conducive for Anthony to shine on the offensive side of the court. 


Although Melo has been staunchly criticized for his defensive abilities or lack thereof, if you take time to think about it he’s merely a product of the system in where he plays.  It’s hard to come into the league and play great defense when there isn’t anybody on you’re team leading by example. 


Sure, Marcus Camby blocks a lot of shots but his role on defense is significantly different than what Anthony’s is, or should be.  Another great reason why Anthony would’ve worked on this team is that he doesn’t snitch, and that’s reason enough in my book. 

Why this wouldn’t have worked-Even though the Pistons would’ve helped shape Melo into a better defender, it wouldn’t have been enough to convince Larry Brown into giving him minutes. 


In fact, there is next to nothing a rookie could do to convince Larry Brown into making it into his rotation.  Brown notoriously doesn’t bother playing rookies, combine that with a frontcourt that already consists of Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace and in the end you’re stuck having an unhappy player waiting for his contract to expire.

          Chris Bosh-No. 4 selected overall.   

 Why this could’ve worked-Since Rasheed Wallace decided one day that the 3-point shot was not only the love of his life, but also, the greatest innovation in the NBA next to the headband, the Detroit Pistons get a post player that unlike Ben Wallace can put the ball in the hoop. 


They also get a big man who shoots superbly from the charity stripe.  Chris Bosh would’ve essentially been the antithesis of Ben Wallace, and since he can play PF/C he provides good relief for either Wallace off the bench. 


After winning over Larry Brown by the end of his sophomore season, followed by winning 6th man of the year.  Bosh, soon would’ve won the hearts of the fans and his fellow teammates to the point where Detroit trades Ben Wallace before the 2005 season to the Bulls for a future first round draft pick and cash considerations.  Chris Bosh is happy for three reasons.

1) He plays for a team where English is the primary language spoken in the locker room. 


2) By 2005, he’s a starter on a Championship team which brandishes WWF style belts.

          3) He doesn’t have to produce a YouTube video to make the All-Star Team, but does so anyway.  Rasheed Wallace opts to dance, rap, and talk a lot of trash while directing it for him.                


Why this wouldn’t have worked-Corliss Williamson’s upset for not getting utilized enough, Ben Wallace agrees mainly because he’s insecure and feels intimidated by Bosh’s abilities as a scorer. 


Soon, the locker room starts to implode; the Pistons chemistry starts to breakdown, though in reality, Bosh is only guilty of being good. 


He is subsequently painted by the Detroit Free Press as a cancer to the team and is quickly traded along with a draft pick to Indiana for Ron Artest.  The Palace brawl never ends up happening, but the Detroit Pistons are doomed.

Dwyane Wade-No. 5 selected overall.

Why this could’ve worked-Wade would do what he does best, which would consist of him continuously driving to the basket with little, to no regard for his own life. 

Why this wouldn’t have worked-Wade would do what he does best, which would consist of him continuously driving to the basket with little, to no regard for his own life.  What makes him great is what makes him a liability in Coach Larry Brown’s eyes. 


Brown would’ve assumed the second coming of Allen Iverson, but this time without the patience to work with it. 

         In the end, Brown and the rest of the team never knew what they really had. Wade eventually gets traded for next to nothing, while Detroit fans suffer even more than the casual fan every time they have to endure a Fave-Five commercial. 

         More importantly I’d like to add; do you or anybody you know even have the Fave-Five feature?  Finding someone who has it is like finding someone who claims to have eaten at “Sonic,” I see plenty of their commercials but have no idea where they’re located.  Moving on…          

After Wade, there is a serious drop-off in talent: Chris Kamen, Kirk Hinrich, T.J. Ford, etc.  This group is solid but nowhere near Wade, Bosh, and Melo solid. 

I could’ve come up with a scenario where the Pistons trade the pick and grab the #18th pick David West, #28th pick Leandro Barbosa, or the #29th pick Josh Howard all of whom would be great to have, but thought it to be too unrealistic to have ever happened.

I think it’s safe to assume that as long as Joe Dumars is the GM of the Detroit Pistons this team will never draft an international player ever again.  However, if they do consider a player from overseas, at minimum, one would have to think they would look into whether or not the guy is a smoker before making a hasty decision (i.e. Darko Milicic).

If not for Darko, the Pistons probably would’ve drafted Carmelo.  Personally though, I tend to think Chris Bosh would’ve been the best fit for the team. So much so that…in the immortal words of Chris Farley “I’m thinking a minimum of an eight-peat.” 


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