NBA Draft Busts: Darko Milicic
In what will go down in history as one of the greatest drafts in NBA history, the 2003 NBA draft will also be known for producing one of the biggest busts too. The Detroit Pistons selected 18-year old Serbian center Darko Milicic with the second overall pick right behind LeBron James. The Pistons chose Darko over players like Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh among others.
Darko didn’t play much at all with the Pistons. Detroit was already a very good team and only had the number two pick because of a trade made with the Grizzlies. In fact, the Pistons went on to win the NBA championship during Darko’s rookie season, making Milicic the youngest player in NBA history to win a title (even though he didn’t contribute to the team at all, a la Adam Morrison). After two and a half seasons in which he appeared in only 96 games, Milicic was traded to the Orlando Magic. Darko finished out his third NBA season with the Magic, earning a little more playing time than with Detroit. The next year, Darko played significant minutes for the first time in his career. He played in 80 games (started 16) and averaged 8 points, 2 blocks, and 5.5 rebounds in 24 minutes per game. Darko became a free agent after the season and even though he showed some promise, the Magic chose not to resign him.
Darko was signed by the Memphis Grizzlies to a 3-year deal during the 2007 off-season. Milicic averaged 7 points and 6 rebounds per game while starting 64 games for the Grizzlies in his first season with the team. Injuries hampered the former number two pick in the 2008 – 2009 season, limiting him to only 61 appearances. During the 2009 off-season, the Grizzlies traded Darko to the New York Knicks. He played in only 8 games for the Knicks during the 2009 – 2010 season before being traded in February to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Milicic started 18 games for the T-Wolves in what was left of the 2009 – 2010 season, averaging 8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. After the season, the Timberwolves resigned Darko to a 4-year deal. Last year, Darko started all 69 games he appeared in for the T-Wolves, averaging 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game.
Even though Darko will be entering his 9th season in the NBA, he is still only 26-years old. He’s a serviceable center at the most and is good enough to be on an NBA roster, just not good enough to be the number two pick in the draft.