Looking back at how the 2003 NBA Draft unfolded, you can't help but wonder what would've happened if the Detroit Pistons selected Carmelo Anthony, instead of all-time bust Darko Milicic, with the second overall pick.
Even though the Pistons won their third title in franchise history one year later, who knows what more they could've accomplished with Anthony on the team. Ben Wallace, however, believes that their trajectory would have been entirely different, arguing that the team may have never won a championship if they had Melo because the former Syracuse product would come in and immediately "disrupt the team chemistry."
"If we would've drafted Carmelo, I honestly don't think we would have ever won a championship," Wallace recently said on the 120 Watts podcast. "Melo wanted to play right away. It would have had the potential to disrupt the team chemistry."
Wallace pointed out that Darko knew his place on the squad right away. "By drafting Darko, he came in and said that he is not ready to play on this team," he explained, adding that it allowed the Pistons to "build and grow and get stronger," en route to winning a championship.
Wallace explained that the pieces wouldn't have fallen perfectly into place the way they did if Anthony was taken over Milicic, pointing to the development of his teammate Tayshaun Prince, who saved their title hopes in 2004 with his improbable chasedown block on Reggie Miller in the closing moments of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
"If we drafted Carmelo, Tayshaun wouldn't blossom to be the type of a player that he way," Wallace said. "We won that championship on the back of the best block I've ever seen in my life, and I blocked a lot of shots. That is the type of grit and grind that the team had."
Wallace's support of the Pistons' drafting Darko over Melo comes after fellow Class of 2003 member Dwyane Wade spoke with Anthony on Instagram Live about their draft. Carmelo suspected that he would have two or three rings if he ended up in Detroit. Milicic meanwhile, took the high road in his response to their comments, wishing everyone "good and every honor in their careers, and in further life a lot of success and less condemnation."