Chauncey Billups Blames Drafting Darko for Cutting Short a Pistons Dynasty
Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida reported Billups' thoughts on Sunday with the idea that Detroit could have been a bona fide dynasty if they would have taken anybody else:
If he had drafted either Melo or Bosh, I think maybe that whole team would still be together. We probably would have more championships down the road. But this is the NBA and things happen. But, of course, I always think about that.
Obviously, Milicic went on to average just 1.6 points per game in two-and-a-half seasons with the Pistons before they traded him to the Orlando Magic with Carlos Arroyo for Kelvin Cato and a pick that would land them Rodney Stuckey.
Milicic never became anything more than a passable role player for stretches at a time, and with the recent news of his declaration that he's done with the NBA, we'll never know what he could have been as a veteran big man off the bench.
Meanwhile Anthony, Bosh and Wade have made a combined 23 All-Star Games in that time.
In other words, the Pistons blew that pick, although everybody blew it when it came to figuring out Milicic.
While that's true looking back, we've also got to remember the situation Detroit was in at the time and the way Milicic was viewed before the draft.
Milicic was decreed by everyone as a guy who could have become what Arvydas Sabonis should have been in the NBA, if he hadn't had eight years of basketball in the Soviet Union tearing his lower body apart.
He was bordering on being the unanimous No. 2 overall pick in the days leading up to the draft after scouts from every corner of the country had followed him around for months.
Even crazier, according to a piece from Chad Ford (h/t arizonasportsfans.com) back in 2006, then-Nuggets GM Kiki Vandeweghe tried everything he could to swap picks with Detroit up until draft night, wanting Darko over Carmelo.
Going further, Detroit was in a position where they could draft based on need because they had won 50 games the previous season.
They were looking for a big man who could be an offensive threat next to Ben Wallace, and Milicic filled that need perfectly, or so it seemed.
Instead of putting much stock in player development (something Larry Brown has never been interested in as a head coach), Detroit traded for Rasheed Wallace in February and went on to win a championship.
Could they have been a better team with Bosh or Anthony, or even Chris Kaman instead of Darko? Obviously that's true.
However, blaming the Pistons for taking a guy who was a consensus top-three pick this long after is attempting to rewrite history.
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