Detroit Pistons: Would Stan Van Gundy Have Drafted Darko Milicic?


The Detroit Pistons were without a first round pick last year, the first in the Stan Van Gundy era. To be successful, Van Gundy will have to avoid the issues that plagued the Pistons late in tenure of Joe Dumars.

That includes spending wisely in free agency but first up is the 2015 NBA Draft and Van Gundy and the Pistons will need to find a player more like Andre Drummond than Rodney White.

Dumars’ biggest draft blunder was the selection of Darko Milicic second overall in 2003. That pick turned out to be a disaster, but wasn’t seen as unreasonable at the time.

RELATED: Pistons Go International in 2015 NBA Mock Draft

In his media column for this week, Richard Deitsch has a feature on Jay Bilas regarding his work as an analyst on ESPN’s NBA Draft coverage. Bilas was equally high on Darko as Dumars, something he learned from in preparing for future drafts. From Deitsch’s piece:

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"He used to watch individual draft workouts and use them as part of his evaluation process but he is now apt to pass on those. Why? He was particularly burned by Darko Miličić, a workout wonder who was drafted No. 2 behind LeBron James in 2003. “I watched him work out and he was amazing–I was blown away,” Bilas said. “In a 5-on-5 game, it is different story. I think you have to be cognizant that you can be seduced by a workout or a players athleticism or something like that."

That was a learning experience for Bilas not to overvalue what he sees in workouts. It’s a philosophy the Pistons have acknowledged in this draft:

So would Stan Van Gundy have drafted Darko Milicic? That’s hard to say, but it is clear that Van Gundy and company are intentional about avoiding mistakes in 2015 that were made in 2003. That should ease the mood of any Pistons fan wary of an international player becoming the Pistons first pick on Thursday night.

Just because Darko, an international player, didn’t work out in the past isn’t any reason to avoid international players in the future. That’s like saying the Lions should have avoided Calvin Johnson because of their failures drafting wide receivers before him. That is just foolishness.

There is no guarantee that any player works out in the NBA Draft, but the Pistons selecting an international player isn’t a guarantee that he won’t work out. Just know that they would have made the pick based on much more than being wowwed in that player’s pre-draft workout.

Next: 20 Best NBA Draft Picks from Michigan

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