By Kristy Hill
The 2003 NBA Draft featured one of the most highly anticipated group of new players in history. There were several young stars set to enter the league.
Carmelo Anthony was one of them.
After his standout freshman season at Syracuse, many expected Melo to be one of the top picks.
LeBron James was taken first by the Cavs on draft night. Darko Milicic, a 7-1 forward from Serbia, was taken second by Detroit. Melo was taken third by the Nuggets.
Chris Bosh went fourth to the Raptors and the Heat drafted Dwyane Wade fifth.
Four of the five players went on to be NBA superstars. Milicic, who was taken ahead of Melo, is the lone exception.
At the time, Detroit drafted Milicic over Anthony because they felt they were set at small forward with Tayshaun Prince so they didn’t need Melo. They also thought Milicic could help lead them to a title.
Not many people agreed with Detroit’s logic. Most fans and experts felt that Anthony should have been the second pick. Melo led his Syracuse team to a National Championship as a freshman. He averaged 22.2 points per game, good for 16th in the nation and fourth in the Big East.
Drafting Milicic turned out to be a big mistake by Detroit. Melo went on to be one of the top scorers in the NBA. Milicic is no longer in the league.
Melo’s draft mates also found success in the NBA.
Bosh, Wade & James are now all playing on the same team, the Miami Heat. They are now known as the “Big Three” and combined in their careers have won over 1,000 regular season games and two NBA titles together in 2012 and 2013.
Melo has joined the Knicks and is in a battle with James, Wade, Bosh and the Heat for Eastern Conference supremacy. Melo has led the Knicks to three straight playoff appearances, their first division title in nearly 20 years and their first playoff series victory since 2000.
The draft class of 2003 should continue to leave its mark on the NBA for many years to come.