By Brian Faith, Knicks Fan Since ‘93
Carmelo Anthony, SF, Syracuse
Drafted: 2003 by the Denver Nuggets, 1st Round (3rd overall)
Carmelo Anthony entered the 2003 NBA Draft fresh off an NCAA National Title and Final Four Most Outstanding Player. In 35 games at Syracuse, Anthony averaged 22.2 ppg, 10.0 rpg and shot 45.3% from the field. A former McDonald’s All-American while at Oak Hill Academy, Anthony was a lock to go early in the first round.
Melo entered a star-studded draft headlined by LeBron James that also included Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and mysterious European big man Darko Milicic. While James was a lock to go first overall to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the rest of the lottery was hardly set in stone. Despite only having the sixth best odds to land the number one pick, the Memphis Grizzlies jumped up to the second position. Unfortunately for them, they owed the pick to the Detroit Pistons based on a trade from 1997. This meant the Pistons, Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors, and Miami Heat would all be in play for Anthony.
The stage was set for the Pistons and their head coach, Larry Brown, to select Anthony after James went first overall to the Cavs. The Pistons were fresh off a 50-win season that ended abruptly in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. With Brown notorious for not playing rookies, some questioned whether the Pistons would select an NBA-ready player like Anthony. The Pistons went the ‘project big man’ route and infamously selected Milicic. This opened the door for Melo to revitalize the Nuggets franchise, where he averaged 21 points and led them to the the Western Conference playoffs in his rookie season.
Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images