The 2003 Draft class is quite possibly the best selection of talent to come into the NBA ever. With names like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, the league was ready for a breath of fresh air with young stars in new places. Teams that weren't relevant for a while finally got their stars, and the show was ready to kick off. Having a couple of outstanding rookies coming in and producing right away resulted in one of the more exciting ROY races we have ever seen.
Ultimately it was a 3-man race between LeBron, Carmelo, and Wade. All three of these young guns would impress and show a glimpse of what fans can expect from them in the foreseeable future. But even though all of them stacked up exceptional cases for themselves, there was only one winner, as the #1 pick LeBron James took Rookie of the Year honors. Many predicted it before the start of the season, as Lebron rose to the expectations, but it still seemed like James wasn't the most deserving of the award.
Carmelo Anthony appeared on the "All The Smoke" podcast and talked about his rookie year. Matt Barnes pointed out how Carmelo was snubbed from being the Rookie of the Year even though he had a fantastic season, to which Carmelo humbly responded him and LeBron should have been Co-Rookies of the Year at least.
"I've should of. We could have did Co. I thought we was going to be Co, how they did G-Hill like that, J-Kidd, so I really thought ok. And that was part of my own story, too, like we about to be Co-Rookie of the Year like we was talking about that. And I'm like damn ok, now I see how my career's gonna go. I see how they gonna look at me. I see what time it is. Just embrace it. I gotta embrace it."
Carmelo Anthony, SHOWTIME Basketball
To say Melo and Bron should have been Co-ROY's is an understatement. Sure, LeBron came into the NBA as the "Chosen One" and the successor of Michael Jordan, averaging 20.9 ppg, 5.9ap, and 5.5 rpg. Impressive numbers for a rookie that would only get better with time, but his Cavs finished the season with a 35-47 record and out of the Playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference. Sure the team improved with LeBron, but he didn't have the same impact Melo or Wade had on their teams.
Carmelo would end up averaging 21.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg, and 2.8 apg while being the focal point of the Nuggets turning around from being the worst team in the NBA to a 43-39 record and a Playoff appearance. It was an unbelievable feat to bring the worst team in the league into the Playoffs in your rookie year while averaging great numbers. If that wasn't enough to bring you the ROY award, I don't know what was.
For reference, Wade wasn't averaging as good numbers as LeBron or Carmelo, but his Heat ended up as the 4th seed in the East. They would go past the Hornets and fall to the mighty Pacers in the second round, but Wade showed he is an elite performer in the Playoffs already as a rookie, scoring some crucial shots. This just shows how impressive this draft class was, as all three of these guys had solid cases to win the ROY award.
Maybe the fairest way out was giving it to all three of them, but since they decided to give it to one guy, it realistically should have been Carmelo Anthony. But as Melo pointed out in the interview, that was when he saw what kind of treatment he would get in the NBA. A great player but always in the shadow of his draft-class mate and good friend LeBron James. At least this year, the once standout rookies will have an excellent chance to go all the way together and possibly bring Carmelo his first championship.