Detroit Pistons NBA Draft: What happened the last time Detroit picked 1-6

Grant Hill (R) of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images)
Grant Hill (R) of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Detroit Pistons
Darko Milicic (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Detroit Pistons Draft History: With the second pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons select Darko Miličić

In Detroit, the 2003 NBA Draft will forever live in infamy as the Pistons selected possibly the biggest draft bust in NBA history.

The Pistons had the rights to Memphis’ first-round pick in 2003. For a team that had finished with a record of 50-32 in each of the last two seasons along with two straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances, landing the second overall pick was the perfect opportunity for Detroit to not only win a championship but build a potential dynasty as well.

Related Story. Who the Pistons should have taken in every draft since Darko. light

As every Pistons fan knows, that is not what happened.

In 2003, Lebron James was the clear first overall pick, that left Detroit with future All-Stars Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh left to choose from. To the ire of Pistons fans everywhere, Detroit opted to select Serbian center Darko Miličić instead.

Miličić was a disappointment in Detroit. During his three seasons with the Pistons, the seven-footer averaged just 1.6 points and 1.2 rebounds in 5.8 minutes per game. the lefty shot 33.9 percent from the floor and only managed two starts in 96 games with the Pistons.

Detroit would win the franchise’s third NBA Finals in the 2003-04 season and would follow it up with another Finals appearance in 2004-05. Miličić spent those seasons on the bench. In fact, Miličić garnered the nickname “The Human Victory Cigar” as he mostly saw minutes as a result of the Pistons putting the game away early.

Midway through the 2005-06 season, Detroit dealt Miličić away to the Magic. In his post Pistons career, the Serbian center began to play decently well. Between 2007 and 2012, Miličić averaged 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while also starting in 205 of his 341 total games played during that span.

In the 2012-13 season, Miličić played in just one game for the Bostons Celtics. The big man scored zero points and collected a single rebound in five minutes.

Detroit missed badly with the number two pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. Even so, the team still went on to win the 2004 NBA Finals the very next season. How the future of the team would have fared if Detroit drafted Anthony, Wade, or Bosh instead still remains one of the biggest “what-ifs?” in NBA history.