Carmelo Anthony to the Detroit Pistons: A What-If Scenario
Carmelo Anthony was drafted third overall to the Denver Nuggets in 2003. He ended up being in contention for rookie of the year and had a long and prolific career. His most notable moments came as a Nuggets player. However, during the 2003 NBA Draft, many expected the Detriot Pistons to pick Melo. Detriot passing on him for Darko Milicic was one of the most shocking moments in NBA history.
On Instagram Live with Dwyane Wade, Melo stated that if he was drafted by the Pistons, he would have won ‘two or three’ rings. Many have wondered over the years on whether that would be the case. How would the NBA landscape be different if that would have happened?
What-If Scenario: Carmelo Anthony to the Detroit Pistons
Effect on 2003 Draft Class
After the Pistons draft Melo, the complexion of the 2003 draft would have changed. Milicic would have slid a bit in the order. The Nuggets would have drafted Chris Bosh and Milicic would end up on the Toronto Raptors. In another scenario, the Nuggets would draft Milicic due to him being rated the best center in the draft. He would have more opportunities and minutes with the Nuggets or the Raptors and became more effective.
Everything else in the first round, including Wade to the Miami Heat, would have stayed the same for the most part. The Pistons also drafted Carlos Delfino with the 25th pick. They would have passed on him, due to having Melo, and picked Kendrick Perkins to their center position.
Carmelo Anthony’s Rookie Season
In his rookie season with the Nuggets, Melo finished with 21 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game, and shot 42.6 percent overall. He also finished in second place for Rookie of the Year. With the Detroit Pistons, Melo would have taken on the main scoring role. During this time, Richard Hamilton led the Pistons in scoring with 19.7 points per game.
Overall, Melo would have posted a similar average. Also, he would have grown on defense and matured faster. The Pistons were loaded with savvy and hungry veterans. The Pistons became NBA champions during the 2003-04 season, which would have given Melo his first ring. The question is: how many more rings would he have won in this scenario?
The Pistons Become a Dynasty
In the following season, the Pistons returned to the NBA Finals but lost to the San Antonio Spurs in seven games. The Pistons’ lack of offensive explosiveness haunted them. With Melo, the Pistons would have defeated the Spurs. Carmelo would have been a more complete player at this point. Securing back-to-back rings means head coach Larry Brown would have remained with the team. Free agents would have also flocked to the Pistons by 2005 in pursuit of a ring.
In the 2005-06 NBA Playoffs, we would have witnessed the birth of a Melo vs. LeBron James rivalry that would have lasted for multiple years. The Pistons would have gotten by the Heat and dismantled the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals. Most likely, the Pistons would have reached the 2007 NBA Finals instead of the Cleveland Cavaliers and would have a great chance of capturing a fourth consecutive NBA championship.
Carmelo Anthony as an All-Time Great
Melo’s standing as an all-time great would have been higher with the Pistons. He would have been a complete player in this scenario and would have truly rivaled LeBron, as LeBron would have one less NBA Finals appearance on his resume. Melo would have won at least one MVP award with the Pistons.
Melo was traded from the Nuggets to the New York Knicks during the 2010-11 season. In this scenario, Melo would have finished a full season with Detriot and left for New York in the summer. As a complete player, Melo would have carried the Knicks to higher ground during his stint. The Knicks would have been a perennial playoff team under this version of Melo. Top free agents during this time would have signed with them, giving Melo a shot at a fourth or fifth ring. If Melo brought a championship to the Knicks, he would have been regarded as a top ten player of all-time.