OT: Darko Milicic finds peace as a farmer.

Submitted by Jasper on March 15th, 2017 at 6:34 AM

Here's piece on Darko Milicic, the guy the Pistons chose over Anthony, Bosh, and Wade back in '03:


Bonus SE Michigan basketball note: Oakland came from 20 down in the second half last night to beat Clemson.




Toasted Yosties

March 15th, 2017 at 1:11 PM ^

Thanks for refuting what I actually said and not putting words in my mouth. And you're right. Hindsight is strong. I read a few articles from '03 discussing Darko and there is very little criticism. Regardless, the decision, as forgivable as it may be, was a bad one. It is hard not to think longingly about what might have been had we had a Bosh, Wade, or Anthony on those teams, considering we were a few points away from repeating the year after the championship. With another rising star, it doesn't seem crazy to think we were talking another championship or two in those, what turned out to be, waning years for the Pistons. Dumars made some bad decisions that turned out positively and others, like that pick (was he still there for the Billups/Iverson deal?), that turned out disasterously. He gets credit for all of them.

Longballs Dong…

March 15th, 2017 at 1:19 PM ^

This is an annoying criticism.  Dumars did what everyone in the world expected and wanted him to do.  We lucked into the #2 pick that year and didn't need an instant impact player.  Everyone thought Darko was the future of an already really good team.  I'd suggest that if we take Carmelo with the #2 pick we might not win a championship because he messes up the chemistry.  

Be mad at Dumars for a lot of other things, but this was not a bad decision; it was bad luck.  Further, it was only after this point that Dumars started making bad decisions.  He put together a championship team and went out and hand picked Sheed for this team and got him for very little.  

Blue Know It

March 15th, 2017 at 1:36 PM ^

I'll take it a step further and say that when drafting a 17 year old kid, in most cases, there is still a ton of developing he needs as a player and a man. Especially someone that came here alone from across the world. Goes from having very little to having a lot. We see kids going into college that still have a TON of growing up to do. Hell, we see kids leaving college still immature as hell. In my eyes, the Pistons knew they had to develop him as a person and a player. He was obviously immature. I think the Pistons failed him just as much as he failed the Pistons.


March 15th, 2017 at 9:08 AM ^

Dumars didn't "stumble into a championship team;" he built it through some great trades.  Unfortunately, after they won their championship, GM's started lowballing him because they didn't want to be the next GM made to look stupid by Dumars.  

But that pick was the stupidest pick in the history of the NBA draft and was the beginning of the end for Dumars.


March 15th, 2017 at 10:02 AM ^

dumb comment of the day.

Dumars deserves all the credit for that title.

Hired up and coming rick Carlisle when nobody had heard of him.
Traded declining grant hill for Ben Wallace (granted, this was pure luck).
Entrusted his team to journeyman Chauncey billups.
Traded for rip Hamilton.
Drafted tayshaun prince.
Pulled off the steal of the century in landing Rasheed Wallace for free
Hired Larry brown.

Say what you will about his career after that title, but that was one of the most masterful gm spans in history.


March 15th, 2017 at 6:21 PM ^

I actually think the criticism over the Darko pick was one of the least horrible, and most hingsight-is-twenty-twenty, mistakes he made.  A lot of teams were salivating over him, it was a position of need at the time, and no one could have possibly expected Wade to be as good as he became.

He probably managed the title mostly through luck, it would appear, because after hitting on Chauncey and Big Ben at the same time, he had an abysmal streak of signings and trades to run the franchise into the ground.  At a time when most other GM were rolling dice, Joe managed a seven, but as the league got smarter and more analytics focused, it left him in the dust.

Everyone Murders

March 15th, 2017 at 8:08 AM ^

Sure it was a terrible bust, but unless I'm having a false memory, the consensus view around the league was that Darko was the second most attractive player in that draft.  "Can't teach tall" and coordinated was the buzz at the time, and Detroit needed to bolster its 4 or 5 to make the next step.

So I wish that D Wade had been the pick, but an awful lot of hindsight goes into the hew and cry of "Dumars was stupid".


Everyone Murders

March 15th, 2017 at 8:29 AM ^

The biggest problem is that it was pretty clear from the get-go that Milicic lacked the internal drive necessary to thrive in the NBA.  He was born on third base as far as talent, height, ability went.  And he looked at third base, and said - "oh, what a nice pillow" and napped on it.

I remember during the pre-draft workouts that he would not do one-on-one workouts and was also at strip bars (at 17), which are beet-red flags.  That stated, I still think he was the consensus No.2 pick.

Here's some links I found at http://www.nbadraft.net/forum/how-good-was-darko-milicic-projected-be

2003 Nbadraft.net mock draft: http://web.archive.org/web/20030618014556/http://nbadraft.net/

2003 Nbadraft.net top prospects list: http://web.archive.org/web/20030606232724/http://nbadraft.net/2003prospe...  

2003  Nbadraft.net top international prospects list: http://web.archive.org/web/20030608165819/http://nbadraft.net/internatio...  

2003 CNNSI NBA mock draft: http://web.archive.org/web/20030526233155/http://sportsillustrated.cnn.c...  

CNNSI article explaining different talent tiers for 2003 NBA Draft: http://web.archive.org/web/20030604165352/http://sportsillustrated.cnn.c...  

Articles about Darko leading up to 2003 NBA Draft: http://web.archive.org/web/20030417001158/http://seattletimes.nwsource.c...  http://web.archive.org/web/20030402053618/http://www.cleveland.com/sport...  http://web.archive.org/web/20030417000953/http://www.mansfieldnewsjourna...  

I Like Burgers

March 15th, 2017 at 11:26 AM ^

I also remember reading at the time that Darko didn't even start or play that much for his Euro team.  Which also seemed like a giant red flag.  Like if you're supposed to be a transcendent big man, shouldn't you be playing and dominating against Euro players?

Chalky White

March 15th, 2017 at 8:27 AM ^

He was the consensus #2 pick in that draft. The report was that he was Dirk Nowitski with a mean streak. That couldn't have been any more of a false statement. I wanted to compare him to Aaron Curry who the Seahawks drafted #4 overall from Wake Forest who was out of the league in two years in the Stafford draft.  Darko actually figured out how to block shots and got a huge contract from Minn I believe. He should still be pretty wealthy.


March 15th, 2017 at 11:56 AM ^

Total career earnings north of $52 million, per Basketball Reference, so yeah I'd say he did alright.

He was an essentially replacement-level NBA player for ten seasons, the only reason he's considered a bust is because he went second overall.* If he'd been drafted at the end of the first round (1) almost no one would remember him and (2) the people who did remember him would remember him as a mediocre but serviceable big man. 

*EDIT: And yes, the fact that he was absolutely does make him a bust. Point is that he had an okay career in the end.


March 15th, 2017 at 9:38 AM ^

I didn't think it was a buzz about Darko, it was the way Dumars explained his pick after it was made.  If there was any buzz about the secod best player it was Carmelo that was talked about the most, at least the way I remember it.  


The one good trade Dumars made was the deal that brought Sheed here, he did luck his way through the Grant Hill sign and trade.  Like many championships, a little luck and a little savvy combined got it done.  


Hiring LB should be a huge credit to Joe D too, even knowing it would end badly after 2-3 years when he was hired, and only getting 2 years, it was a great move.  They win nothing without both Sheed and LB.

snarling wolverine

March 15th, 2017 at 11:46 AM ^

If there was any buzz about the secod best player it was Carmelo that was talked about the most, at least the way I remember it.

It was Darko. "Best international prospect ever" was the buzz on him.

Carmelo was the other guy under consideration (no one was thinking about Wade or Bosh at #2) but almost everyone had Darko over him.

Everyone Murders

March 15th, 2017 at 8:53 AM ^

Per Milicic himself, in the article, other draft busts were usually guys who wanted to but couldn't:  Milicic could, but didn't want to.

It's a sad story, but he's still got a shit ton of money, a farm, his health, self-awareness (very important), and thus he gets little sympathy from me.  His self-awareness makes me like him a lot more, but also makes me wonder even more about what could have been.


March 15th, 2017 at 7:43 AM ^

It was a terrible pick by Dumars, but I'm not sure Carmelo would have been a good fit with the "going to work" Pistons team.

BTW-Darko was in the NBA for almost a decade and at one point got a 3 year $21 million contract from Memphis.