By Joe “Yeti” Collier
With the NBA Draft in the shadows of the NBA Finals, I am going to take a look at the two most notable drafts in the history of the NBA.
The 1984 draft has five Hall of Famers (HOF). Nineteen years later, the 2003 draft could have the same amount of HOFs in it and even more talent.
The most notable likeness in the two drafts, the number two overall picks, Sam Bowie and Darko Miličić. Both were huge busts that went to descent teams with talented players already on the roster. Both of which went before players that could have changed NBA history.
Both Bowie and Miličić were both highly coveted coming into the draft. Both 7ft post players, both had a good careers leading up to the draft, Bowie in college and Miličić in the Euro league.
You could argue that Bowie could have been a solid big man, before breaking his leg. You can’t argue that for Miličić.
Bowie went to a Portland team that had drafted Clyde Drexler the year earlier and already had Scott Paxon on the roster. It was a pick by the Blazers to fill the void made by Bill Walton. In Bowie’s rookie season he averaged 10 points and 8.6 boards a game. Not to bad, right? The next 2 seasons he averaged a broken leg. He broke his left leg in 1985. Then in 1986, he broke his right leg, thus sending him into the history books as the biggest draft bust.
Darko Miličić was just bad. No broken legs, no decent rookie season, he was horrible! He averaged 1.4 points per game and 1.3 rebounds his rookie year. Although he has a ring his rookie season, which all he done was miss dunks and lay ups. He has become a journeyman and has played on six teams since being drafted. His best year was in Minnesota in 2010-2011 season. He averaged 8.8 points per game and stepped his rebounds up to 5.2 per game. His biggest accomplishment is making Larry Brown and Joe Dumars look like idiots.
What would two second overall picks do if the teams would have simple picked the third overall picks. How would it change the history of the NBA? How would it change the overall view of the NBA?
Let’s play fantasy basketball for a minute. Let’s say Portland took Michael Jordan, who was the third overall pick, at number two.
You are looking at a roster with Clyde Drexler, Scott Paxon and Michael Jordan! That would have given those LA teams a run for their money in the west. Jordan would have also been playing against 3 of the 5 Hall of Famers his first couple of years, and 4 out of 5 when Sir Charles joined the Suns and later the Rockets. Could Jordan lead that team to 6 championships? How would that affect the NBA as we know it?
Let’s say Jordan leads “Rip City” to a few championships and the NBA never had the Chi-town teams of the 90s. Would Jordan still be the best? Would we still see the Red, Black And White 23 jerseys just in another city? How weird is it to think that Portland could have been on top of the basketball world if they would have picked for talent and not need.
Flash forward to Detroit, the chants of MVP echo in the arena. It’s the Eastern Conference Finals, the person that is getting
the MVP chants, Carmelo Anthony. One year after taking the Orangemen to the NCAA Championship game, he is in a heated battle with the Nets. He takes his team into the finals and beat the duo of Kobe and Shaq in five games.
Think about it, Billups, Hamilton, Melo, Wallace and Wallace as a starting 5, with Tayshaun Prince, Lindsey Hunter and Okur coming off the bench. The second coming of the Bad Boys would have been even better!
Three years down the road with one Championship in hand for Melo, we could have had LeBron and Melo battling in the
2007 eastern conference finals. Would Melo take his team past The King and face Timmy and the Spurs?
We can only day dream about this and how Melo would look in the Blue and Red. And ,like Jordan, Melo would have to face 3 future Hall of Famers that in his class as well and David West who will come to the Pacers in a few years.
A lot could have happened and a lot of history would have been written differently. Jordan could have won three championships instead of six. Melo and the Pistons could have ruled the East, giving the King a run for his money. Day dreaming is the only way we can picture this.
In Part 2, Yeti looks at the hidden gems from each draft class.