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“LeBron would never have dominated like that if this star had played for us”



The evolution of the NBA is sometimes played with little things, and the regrets are often many after having made certain crappy decisions. A former champion claims in particular that with a specific star, his team would have dominated the league for years, thus slowing down the rise to the top of LeBron James.

The least we can say is that the 2003 draft contained a rather staggering number of all-time players. We obviously think of LeBron JamesDwyane Wade or Chris Bosh who ended up all playing together in Miami in the early 2010s. But the King’s biggest competitor for ROY in 2003-04 was Carmelo Anthony, crowned with an NCAA and who was very impressive for his rookie campaign (21 points, 6 rebounds and more than one steal per game).

However, if all these players deserved their place in the Top 5 of the vintage thereafter, it was hardly the case of the last member of this club: Darko Milicic. Worse still, the Serbian interior is now recognized as one of the biggest busts in NBA history, never succeeding anywhere he played. Certainly titled with the Pistons after only twelve months in 2004, he had not however played a role in the conquest of the Larry O’Brien trophy.

We then saw him scour the franchises of the league (6 in total), before retiring in complete anonymity. What seriously annoy Detroit, who had chosen him in second position. And who had therefore overlooked Melo in particular, while the Michigan players were particularly keen to welcome the winger. Chauncey Billups, MVP of the 2004 Finals and now coach of the Pistons, gave the following opinion during an interview:

What if Carmelo Anthony had been drafted by Detroit?

We all thought we were going to take Melo. We were all in, Melo was Melo. It was perfect. The year before, we selected Tayshaun Prince and he could have been the perfect 6th man, the Swiss army knife that can do anything. I thought our team was perfectly built to welcome Melo. I ask myself this question all the time: if we had Melo, when could LeBron have taken over and dominated like that? We would have been in the same division, and Melo would have been better surrounded, he could have progressed even more.

The two young stars could have actually faced each other four times a year, if Anthony had been drafted by MoTown. However, he would have played in a workforce clearly superior to that of the Cavs, during the first years of Bron. Remember that Detroit regularly participated in the conference finals until 2007, before experiencing a sporting decline. If Sweet Melon, who was a hit with the Nuggets, had been there, the franchise’s era of dominance might have lasted longer.

The 2003 draft remains to this day as one of the biggest failures in the history of the Pistons, who could have chosen Carmelo Anthony rather than Darko Milicic. The flop had no impact in the short term as Detroit would finish champion a year later, but in the long term, that may be a different story…

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