2003 NBA Draft Remix
Where the value of the Euro started its decline.
There are numerous angles you can take in writing a recap of the 2003 NBA Draft. You could debate whether or not 2003 was better than 1984 or 1996 (not better than either of them yet, but gaining rapidly). You could mention all of the Hall of Fame talent that was up for grabs in 2003 (LeBron and Wade are locks, Bosh and Melo on their way). But Draft 365 would rather talk about Dirk Nowitzki. Or, more specifically, how it’s all Dirk’s fault.
Confused? Perhaps we should explain. By the time the 2003 Draft rolled around, Dirk was already an established superstar, which was in no ways a sure thing when he was selected ninth overall in the 1998 Draft. Now NBA GMs were intrigued — maybe a 7-0, skilled European really could become a star in North America. The Euro floodgates had opened. Dirk spawned Nikoloz Tskitishvili who spawned, yes, you guessed it, Darko Milicic. So, if Dirk hadn’t exploded, Darko probably wouldn’t have even been considered at pick No. 2 in 2003. So Detroit fans, next time Dirk rolls into town, give him a nice Motown welcome.
Now, for an even more controversial view of things, was Darko really such a bad pick for the Pistons? Talent-wise, of course it was — the team passed on six future All-Stars to grab him. But, consider this — what is the goal of an NBA team? To milk every cent it can out of its fans To win a championship, of course. And with Darko on the roster the Pistons won a championship and started a long run as one of the dominant teams in the League. Now, obviously Darko had no direct impact on that team’s production on the court, but imagine taking Darko off the roster and adding Carmelo Anthony. With Anthony the Pistons (more than likely) don’t trade for Rasheed Wallace, don’t become a defensive juggernaut, and don’t become a star-less, “all-for-one-and-one-for-all” squad. While the talent level would have been much higher with Melo, the intangibles (chemistry, selflessness, intensity) may not have been. As a wise man once wrote, chemistry is an important factor that is not always given enough credit in the success or failure of a team.
2003 NBA Draft
All-Stars: 7 (LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, David West, Josh Howard, Mo Williams)
Biggest Bust: Darko Milicic, Detroit, pick No. 2
Second Round Steal: Mo Williams, Utah, pick No. 47
Winning Team (in the long run): Cleveland (LeBron James, Mo Williams)
Career Scoring Leader: LeBron James
Career Rebounding Leader: Chris Bosh
Career Assists Leader: LeBron James
Pick No. 1 | Cleveland Cavaliers
Actual Selection: LeBron James
Draft 365 Remix: LeBron James (1)
No second guessing here — James has exceeded any reasonable expectations the Cavs and their fans could have had for him coming out of high school. He’s become probably the most dominant all-around player in the League, and, as sacrilegious as it is to say, is on pace to challenge Michael Jordan as the best player to ever play the game.
Pick No. 2 | Detroit Pistons
Actual Selection: Darko Milicic
Draft 365 Remix: Dwyane Wade (5)
While LeBron is still the King of this draft, it isn’t a landslide victory for him. Dwyane Wade is also on the fast track to the Hall of Fame. And, perhaps most importantly, while the King may still have the crown, Wade has a piece of jewelry glaringly absent from James’ wardrobe.
Pick No. 3 | Denver Nuggets
Actual Selection: Carmelo Anthony
Draft 365 Remix: Carmelo Anthony (3)
Pretty much a toss-up here between Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh. Anthony wins by a nose due to his multiple All-NBA selections. With Chauncey Billups on board, Melo has his best shot at a title.
Pick No. 4 | Toronto Raptors
Actual Selection: Chris Bosh
Draft 365 Remix: Chris Bosh (4)
The skinny, Snoop Dogg lookalike out of Georgia Tech turned out to be a godsend for the Raptors after Air Canada crashed and burned. With his impending free agency looming, the Raptors need to decide if he is a player they can build a championship around or if he is better suited to be the second-in-command on a team (more likely the latter).
Pick No. 5 | Miami Heat
Actual Selection: Dwyane Wade
Draft 365 Remix: David West (18)
It’s not surprising that David West lasted until the middle part of the first round in 2003 — he was an undersized power forward that didn’t play in one of the power conferences in college. He has blossomed into a two-time All-Star and perhaps the best undersized 4-man in the League.
Pick No. 6 | Los Angeles Clippers
Actual Selection: Chris Kaman
Draft 365 Remix: Josh Howard (29)
One of the many mid to late first round steals in this draft, Josh Howard is the perfect second option for a team, if you ignore the off-court headaches he causes.
Pick No. 7 | Chicago Bulls
Actual Selection: Kirk Hinrich
Draft 365 Remix: Mo Williams (47)
The absolute steal of the draft, Mo Williams had himself an All-Star year last season in his role as LeBron’s vice president. Too bad his playoff performance (on the court and with his mouth) has taken some of the lustre off of his golden season.
Pick No. 8 | Milwaukee Bucks
Actual Selection: T.J. Ford
Draft 365 Remix: Kirk Hinrich (7)
His play the past two seasons has been abysmal, but before that Kirk Hinrich was one of the best both-ends-of-the-court point guards in the NBA.
Pick No. 9 | New York Knicks
Actual Selection: Michael Sweetney
Draft 365 Remix: T.J. Ford (8)
And the Knicks slide into oblivion begins. T.J. Ford may have had an injury plagued career thus far, but, unlike Michael Sweetney, he’s still pulling down a NBA paycheck.
Pick No. 10 | Washington Wizards
Actual Selection: Jarvis Hayes
Draft 365 Remix: Leandro Barbosa (28)
Maybe he hasn’t developed into the point guard the Suns were hoping for, but Leandro Barbosa is the League’s fastest player and one of its most explosive scorers of the bench.
Barely missed the Top 10 Remix: Boris Diaw, Chris Kaman, Travis Outlaw, Kyle Korver.
Next on the Remix: 2002 and the Ming Dynasty.
Read more of Jeff Fox at The Hoops Manifesto.