“What Could Have Been” – Carmelo Anthony in Detroit



“What Could Have Been” – Carmelo Anthony in Detroit


Draft night 2003, a night Pistons fans will never forget. It was perhaps the most talented Draft Class we’ve ever seen and the hard working city of Detroit was finally going to get what they deserve, a talent that could carry their Franchise forward. With having the 2nd pick of the Draft along with the abundance of talent available, it was a situation where you couldn’t lose, any Draft choice was a success, right? Wrong!

The Pistons went on to make the biggest mistake in Franchise history, selecting Darko Milicic with the 2nd pick in the 2003 Draft, leaving not only future Superstars in Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the table, but more alarmingly, Carmelo Anthony.
Now in hindsight, seeing the careers that Wade and Bosh have gone on to have, it’s easy to say that they were obvious Draft choices, but at the time it was still very unclear on what they’d be able to achieve on an NBA scale. Carmelo on the other hand, needed no introduction or doubt. Everyone knew what Carmelo could do and he was an obvious second choice after sensation LeBron James was certain to go number 1. That became even clearer when Cleveland were handed the number 1 pick in the Draft Lottery, edging out Denver with both having an equal 25% chance of landing James and it was a lock James would remain in his home city.




The obvious choice was to choose Carmelo next. He was NBA ready, he was a scorer, he was athletic, and mostly, he was known around the basketball community as a special talent that could instantly change a Franchise. For some reason, Detroit head office were fixated on Darko Milicic. He was an unproven European player that had never bounced a basketball competitively in the United States. They wanted size, and you can’t teach 7 foot tall, but they went on to complete a historic mistake, passing on Anthony.

The magnitude of this decision is made evident when thinking about what transpired and occurred for the Pistons in years to come. In 2004, the Pistons were crowned NBA Champions. Their hard-nosed brand of basketball and defense was a key to their success but it wasn’t a sustainable one to win Championships in years to come in a evolving NBA. They needed offense, and a whole load of it to continue to fight for Championships with an aging roster. This would have been a perfect scenario for Carmelo. A talented and fundamental team with great leaders who could show him how to play the game the right way as well as have his freedom on the offensive end. It was a perfect situation that unfortunately never materialised in Detroit.



Recently, team leader and 2004 Finals MVP Chauncey Billups reflected on the situation and its wasted potential. Billups has stated before that Carmelo has flourished the most when he doesn’t have to be the sole leader and take on all the leadership responsibilities, speaking on their time together in Denver. Billups went on to say the potential that could have been;
“That ball-stopping mentality that Carmelo has? He wouldn’t have had that if he was a Piston,” Billups said. “We wouldn’t let him play like that. He would have been a much better player than he is now—and he’s a great player now.

“This guy would have been,” Billups said, pausing to chuckle for a moment, “he would have been an absolute icon, because winning takes you there.”

The Pistons could have won, and continued to win with Carmelo. Chauncey goes on to express just this “We probably would have won 3 championships…”

It’s a shame, and the biggest shame of all is Carmelo himself felt the same way towards going to Detroit; “That’s why I was a little bit disappointed,” Anthony said, “because I really wanted to go to Detroit. You had Chauncey, you had all those guys over there…Detroit, they had something going over there.”
What could have been Detroit, what could have been.

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