Darko Miličić was very unlucky in his NBA career. Miličić wasn’t a bad player, but he didn’t live up to the no.2 pick, particularly because he was selected before Wade, Bosh, and Melo. If he were drafted in any other year, there would’ve been a lot less pressure on him. But, it wasn’t just the year.
The story of how Darko stole the Pistons’ hearts is fascinating. To sum it up, a one in a million coincidence happened that made it possible for the Pistons to see Darko before anyone else, and he blew their mind. At that size, he was amazing and had loads of talent. It turned out to be the worst thing that happened to Miličić. All that talent couldn’t develop due to the pressure he was under from day one.
Before they drafted Darko, the Pistons were in the Conference Finals and set their sights on the Finals in ’03/’04. Darko never got time to play through his mistakes because the Pistons didn’t have time – it was all in, particularly after they traded for Rasheed Wallace. That’s where Alex Acker thinks the beginning of Darko’s end started.
“The team was already an elite team, and Darko didn’t see a role where he can polish and develop. You’re playing against Rasheed Wallace, who talks the most sh**, he’ll talk you out of your game. As young as Darko was, he wasn’t ready for that, every single day, every single night.”Alex Acker, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network
Acker pointed out something most people don’t realize. A lot of situations within teams are adversarial. A guy like Rasheed, fighting for playing time and expecting to play in the Finals, won’t think about developing Darko’s game and easing him into the NBA. It’s eat or get eaten, and it happens every day.
“To actually come in and get that kind of hazing every single day, it was kinda’ like, too much. Too much for him. He didn’t have time to develop. I’ve seen him do some amazing things on the court.”Alex Acker, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network
Darko himself opened up about his NBA career and said his lack of maturity and ability to handle the expectations of being a professional were the biggest obstacles he faced. It seems Rasheed Wallace didn’t help with that.