Darko Milicic is the great legend of cautionary NBA draft tales. Drafted #2 overall (after only LeBron James and before Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, etc.), Milicic never made an impact. But beyond the big Serb lies a rich minefield of other what-could-have-beens. Kwame Brown, Greg Oden, and Adam Morrison are just three recent names that never reached a level their draft status would predict. The jury is still waiting on Anthony Bennett — some mean-spirited Cavs fans think Tony Bennett would have been a better choice. (Think of the national anthems!)
For all the modern analytics and old school analysis among NBA prognosticators, there are very few sure bets like LeBron James. Imagine investing the future of your enterprise in a teenager! No other business does it. You may as well head to an online casino, put down your week’s paycheck and see what comes. Will you get Sam Bowie, or Michael Jordan? The Knicks and Phil Jackson have put their chips on 19-year-old Kristaps Porzingis — a mature, intelligent, unique physical specimen who’s never even played an NCAA game. Porzingis may end up like Dirk Nowitzki or like Darko. That’s what makes the thing exciting, you know?