The 2003 NBA Draft is known by many as one of the greatest draft classes of all time. It brought forward arguably the greatest basketball player in history with LeBron James. The draft class is also full of other amazing talent, 2 other eventual Hall of Famers in Anothony and Wade, along with 6 other All-Stars headlined by Chris Bosh. Other All-Stars include: Chris Kaman, David West, Josh Howard, Mo Williams and Kyle Korver.
The first four names I mentioned have been four of the greatest players of this generation. They were picked with the first, third, fourth and fifth picks respectively. What pick is missing? The notorious second overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft: Darko Miličić.
A case can easily be made that Milicic is the biggest draft bust of all time. In comparison to his surrounding selections, Darko going the Detroit Pistons was one of the biggest letdowns in any sports’ draft history.
A classic question that is asked is: What would have happened if the Pistons selected Melo, Bosh or Wade? That question really took off after the Pistons took the 2004 NBA title just one year after this draft.
The Detroit Pistons defeated the LA Lakers in 5 games in what turned out to be the only championship that core won as a unit. Now only imagine what would’ve happened if you add All-NBA talent to that team. In theory it sounds like the beginning to a Super Team. But what if I told you there is a second thought?
Let me ask you this: Would you rather take one guaranteed Championship or take one of those three big players instead of Darko and roll the dice without knowing what will happen? I’m sure most people wouldn’t think twice and take the All-Star. But here is where things change.
If you take any of the big names, you force out a player that played a key roll in the Pistons’ run. You give less playing time to players like Chauncy Billups, Rip Hamilton, Rasheed and Ben Wallace. I believe that the relationship and chemistry that the 2004 NBA Champions had was what pushed them over the top. The run was full of role players playing very well in their rolls. Having a superstar play every roll could have disrupted the flow of the Pistons on their way to the Championship.
I know it may seem like a dumb take, especially now with Super Teams dominating the NBA, but it is just a second thought and a devil’s advocate point of view. Winning can be taken for granted when putting a team together on paper. Just look at the Knicks this past season. On paper they seem to have a much better team than their record showed, but the team didn’t gel together and a lot of players underperformed in their roles. NBA championships are never a sure thing, just ask players like Barkley, Stockton and Malone. Give me a Championship over a possible, but unsure, championship any day.