Posted by: dvolpe | February 19, 2010

Should the Detroit Pistons Have Drafted Carmelo Anthony?

“For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, 'It might have been'.” ~John Greenleaf Whittier

Do you ever think of a lost love, or a friendship that fractured, a job interview you blew, or a potential game winning shot that you missed, and wonder what might have been? Many Pistons fans experience that sensation, every time Carmelo Anthony scores 30, or hits the game winning shot at the buzzer. We wonder what might have been. Especially now, that the sun is setting on the 2nd championship era in Pistons history. The Pistons are no longer a power in the east, or even a factor for that matter. They will be lucky to make the playoffs at all this season, and unlikely to do much after that. Meanwhile the Nuggets are fielding one of th best squads the franchise has ever known, with aspirations for the Western conference finals and beyond. So should they? Should the Pistons have drafted Carmelo Anthony? 

On the face of this question, the answer is simple, a resounding yes. It seems a question not even worth asking. Carmelo has gone on to be a perennial all-star, one of the league’s stop scorers and is now on one of the West’s best teams. Meanwhile the Pistons are floundering. At the very beginning of a rebuilding mode, and very likely won’t even make the playoffs.

Still, other questions remain regarding the Pistons, especially when it comes to th championship they won. For insta nce, would the Pistons have gone after Sheed if they had Carmelo? Would all of the players have fit under the cap? Would they all have fit on the floor for that matter? What of team chemistry?

These questions are important ones. I think the first key to the championship was the acquisiton of Rasheed Wallace. Without the impregnable barrier of Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace around the rim, I don’t believe the Pistons would have won a championship, even if they had Carmelo. Offense wins games remember, but defense wins championships, and Melo, though one of the league’s elite scorers was certainly not known for his defense in those days. The cap question is another important one. Its easy to speculate that the team would have automatically become better with Carmelo, but with NBA salary caps being what they are, someone would likely have had to go. Who’s place would he have taken? Richard Hamilton who lead the team in scoring? Tayshaun Prince whose perimeter defense was key against the Tracy McGradys and Kobe Bryants of the league? Chauncey Billups who hit big shot after big shot?  Then there’s the question of chemistry, ephemereal as it is, it does exist. Would the Pistons have played as well together, if they added another piece, even a supremely talented piece like Carmelo Anthony?  I’m not so sure. Much of the Pistons chemistry was based around their no superstar system. They all pitched in and won as a commitee. They all checked their egos at the door and gave 110% because they knew that without a superstar, they had to equal more than the sum of their parts. Could they have done that with Carmelo on the team, would they? There is no way to tell. All of that is to say nothing of whether Carmelo would have flourished under Larry Brown’s tutelage, which many younger players bristle under, and the questions go on and on, ad infinitum. There are too many to catalogue, let alone answer.

The truth is we can never know what would have happened, what might have been. We only know what did happen. The Detroit Pistons reaped the immediate benefit of a championship and then another finals appearance. The Denver Nuggets reaped the benefit of a franchise player that they are still benefitting from today. That being said they are still waiting for a championship in Denver, and Carmelo is still waiting for his first finals appearance.

So should the Detroit Pistons have drafted Carmelo Anthony? Maybe, but they didn’t. They didn’t and they made their  run, and they won it all and now it is other teams turn.

There’s only one solution for Pistons fans across the nation. There’s only one solution for anyone wondering what might have been; focus on what you have, not what you might have lost. Focus on what was, not on what might have been. Pistons fans can remember the days of  those two finals runs. Would you really have wanted it to be any different? Pistons fans can remember Rasheed Wallace arguing with the refs, making jokes and screaming, “the ball don’t lie!” after missed free throws from opposing players. They can remember the gongs after blocked shots by Ben Wallace. Pistons fans can remember the Reggie Miller block by Tayshaun Prince in that playoff game against the Indiana Pacers. They can remember Richard Hamilton, the man in the mask, and all those “big shots” hit by Mr. Big Shot, Chauncey Billups.

So I say to Pistons, what I am really saying to myself in these down years, waiting for the team to rise to prominence once more. Be happy for what you have, a lot of laughs, the cheers, the championship. And wish Carmelo Anthony the best, knowing that he ended up where he should have, and cheer him as you would a Detroit Piston in the playoffs. Because his absence may well have been a part of the Pistons Championship run.

Quick Bits:

Wheelin’ and Dealin? That being said, I have to say I’m a little disappointed in the Pistons moves at the trade dealine this year, as in no moves whatsoever. Ordinarily I trust Joe D. implicitly, but I’m just a little concerned with the direction the team is headed. I knew that a rebuilding year had to come some day, and that’s okay. But the one thing that concerns me right now is the log jam at the the guard position, (Bynum, Atkins, Stuckey, Gordon, Hamilton) and the seeming redundancy of players like Jerebko, Prince and Daye.  I would like to have seen a move made, but I accept that in all likelihood, there were no good options presented. I am hoping that the Pistons will be able to make a splash in free agency next year.

U-S-A, U-S-A! I’d like to take a moment to give props to team USA. The team that is currently leading the olympics in overall medals and in every category of medal as well, including the gold. Go team USA!

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