Former NBA player and champion, Rip Hamilton made a guest appearance on the All The Smoke Podcast, to talk about his career as a member of an outstanding Detroit Pistons squad in the mid-2000s. On top of being stacked with experienced players, the Pistons had an opportunity of a lifetime in the 2003 draft. Unfortunately for them and their fans, they drafted Darko Milicic as the second-round pick instead of Carmelo Anthony, who went to the Denver Nuggets. That draft is still, to this day, one of the best draft classes of all time.
In Hamilton’s opinion, the Pistons would be almost unstoppable if they had the opportunity to draft Carmelo. Earlier this year, Ben Wallace shared his views on the topic by saying he probably wouldn’t fit the system and the culture Pistons had during those years. Hamilton disagrees and thinks that would change the entire narrative because Carmelo was a once in a lifetime talent, which would help them tremendously during their playoff runs.
“Melo was a once in a generation type of talent. If Carmelo comes to us, and me and Chauncey talked about how the narrative would be different for LeBron James. I don’t think that Cleveland’s team beats us with Carmelo Anthony.Rip Hamilton, via All The Smoke
Wallace thinks Carmelo wouldn’t adjust properly to the team concept Pistons were nurturing during those playoff and championships runs, which would eventually affect team chemistry. That is a valid point because Carmelo was never known as a great team player, which was one of the things he was criticized for throughout his career. On the other hand, Hamilton believes Carmelo would fall in line with the culture, and the grit n grin mentality Pistons had. With the Pistons, it all started with none other than Ben Wallace, who led the foundations for their success.
The way we were structured is that guys fell in line. When I came from Washington, I wasn’t a defender. But when I got there, and I saw big bro Ben Wallace doing night in and night out and saying this is the foundation of what this team is built on I got to fall in line. We all got to fall in line with everything Ben was beginning to build in Detroit.Rip Hamilton, via All The Smoke
The questions when discussing this ‘what if’ theory is whether Carmelo joining the Pistons would essentially affect their chances of winning more championship. According to Hamilton, the narrative behind Carmelo’s career would completely change because they would probably win three NBA championships. On top of that, a great defensive team like the Pistons would get a prolific young scorer on their roster, which would enable them to be more productive. Hamilton believes Billups and himself would have much longer careers because they knew they could count on Carmelo to lead the way, especially on offense.
So now you bring Carmelo to us, I think the narrative would be totally different on his career. Carmelo Anthony would’ve been a champion, and I if he played on our team, me and Billups would’ve played for 20 years, and we wouldn’t have to carry the load.Rip Hamilton, via All The Smoke
In his 17 year-long careers, Carmelo never made it to the NBA finals, and there is a high percentage he will retire from the NBA without a championship ring. He wouldn’t be the first and last player to have such a career, but things could have been different if the Pistons management made the right decision on that draft night.