What if the Pistons Hadn't Drafted Complete Bust Darko Milicic in 2003?

Former Detroit Pistons No. 2 pick Darko Milicic
Former Detroit Pistons No. 2 pick Darko Milicic / Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Normally a massive draft bust destroys a team's chances of success for the near future, but this time it might've helped the Detroit Pistons win a championship.

When the Pistons drafted center Darko Milicic with the second pick in 2003 NBA Draft, expectations were high. Milicic was drafted before numerous future Hall of Famers, including Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony.

Despite only contributing 1.6 points-per-game in his 2.5 seasons the Pistons before being traded away to the Orlando Magic, Milicic became part of a championship team. In his rookie season the Pistons won the 2004 NBA Finals.

Although fans like to project how much better the Pistons could have been if they drafted ten-time NBA All-Star small forward Carmelo Anthony in place of Milicic, that pick doesn't make much sense in context. The Pistons had drafted Tayshaun Prince, defensive star and fan favorite, the season prior.

What they needed was a big, hence why they drafted Milicic. Although 11-time All-Star Chris Bosh was still on the board, his acquisition could've altered the chemistry of the eventual '04 champs. In fact, the Pistons' need to fill the hole in their starting lineup that Milicic left open ironically forced them to trade for big man Rasheed Wallace, who would become a pivotal part of their team.

Due to the interior forces of Rasheed and fellow Pistons big Ben Wallace, Detroit was able to limit Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal in the NBA Finals, while stifling a supporting cast that included Derek Fisher, Gary Payton and Karl Malone.

The Pistons would upset the Lakers, winning the NBA Finals in five games. Somehow, the Pistons may not have won the NBA title if it weren't for drafting a bust in Darko Milicic, but that's an argument for another day.