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“Youngest NBA champion Darko Milicic was somehow picked over Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony”: Why the Pistons chose to draft foreign NBA star over future NBA Hall of Famers

Ashish Priyadarshi

Darko Milicic

Darko Milicic was part of the famous 2003 NBA draft, and somehow he was picked before Dwyane Wade and ended up being the youngest NBA champion ever.

The 2003 draft is famously known for being one of the best draft classes of all time. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chirs Bosh were all available in the draft, and they were expected to be the top picks.

However, Milicic decided to spoil the party. The Detroit Pistons held the second overall pick, and everyone expected that they would take Wade or Carmelo, but they made perhaps the most surprising pick of the draft.

They took a relatively unknown European prospect and were happy with their choice. Of course, everyone knew that the Cavs were going to nab LeBron James with the first overall pick, but nobody thought Detroit would take Milicic second.

Also Read: “I take great pride in beating Michael Jordan and the 72-10 Bulls!”: Hornets legend Rex Chapman recalls his HUGE game against MJ and the Chicago Bulls back in 1996

Is Darko Milicic the youngest ever NBA champion?

So, why did the Pistons make such a stunning choice? It comes down to a lot of factors really. He had a wide array of skills for a 7 footer, and he could use his body and size extremely well while still being mobile. Milicic was pegged as the next Dirk Nowitzki.

He was a great ball handler, could drive hard to the paint, finish in traffic, and pass the ball effectively. He would be a real unicorn on offense, being a complete nightmare for defenders back in the early 2000s.

A journalist looking to get himself established covered Darko’s play, and he compared him to Hakeem Olajuwon, Dirk Nowitzki, and Pau Gasol. The writing was on the wall for the Pistons to pick him up, but there was still no certain, hardcore evidence to show that his skills could translate to the NBA.

Milicic was drafted to a championship contending Detroit team who actually won the title in 2004, beating the Los Angeles Lakers.  Milicic then became the youngest NBA champion in history, winning the title at just 18 years old. However, he was essentially a non-factor in the Pistons’ title run.

For his career, Milicic just averaged 6 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game, and 0.9 assists per game. He put in some decent years down the line with the Timberwolves, Magic, and Grizzlies, but for a second overall pick he never lived up to his name.

When you consider that absolute studs like Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh were drafted behind him, the pick becomes even more questionable.

Also Read: “Mike D’Antoni spotted in Charlotte to meet Michael Jordan!”: Insider breaks massive news for LaMelo Ball and crew after Kenny Atkinson pulls out of head coach race

About the author

Ashish Priyadarshi

Ashish Priyadarshi


Ashish Priyadarshi is The SportsRush's content manager and editor. Ashish freelanced for 1 year in the NFL division before taking on an editorial role in the company. He then tacked on managing content while adding on a writing role in the NBA division. Ashish has been closely following the NFL and NBA since the 2012 season when the Patriots lost the Super Bowl and Derrick Rose was at the height of his powers. Since then, Ashish has focused on honing his knowledge for both leagues in, even writing crossover pieces. In his free time, Ashish is an avid basketball player, he loves to watch movies and TV shows, immersing himself in the cinematic world. Ashish studies computer science and data science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and would love to mesh his love for sports with his technical skills.

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