Welcome to NBA 1k970: an excuse to write about the top 250 NBA prospects of the last 50 years // to play video games until the eyes melt down the front of our faces like that Indiana Jones movie. Using NBA 2k20 on the ol’ Playstation 4 machine, we’re going back to 1969 and doing the last 50 years of basketball over: new champions, new all-stars, new draft orders, and absolutely no social life to speak of ever again.
Thankfully this is a massive waste of time that can be enjoyed by everyone, like a model ship that actually floats and hauls cargo. These rosters and draft classes will be available to download and use in NBA 2k20’s MyLeague or MyGM modes, so that YOU TOO can create your own version of basketball history. Save careers, save teams, rewrite the NBA record books, and never work a job or raise your children again!
The following is the list of players from the 2000-2003 NBA Drafts with a 90 potential rating. We’re highlighting these four years specifically for two reasons: a) this was the time period that I personally started to understand, connect with and follow the NBA, and b) because I genuinely think the NBA drafts from 2000 to 2003 were the most interesting of my lifetime (probably has something to do with a). This was the age of high school draft picks, an era that by all reports, we are about to bring back. There were busts, booms, tragedies, triumphs, phenoms, unicorns, Zach Fucking Randolph, and of course a young man from Akron, Ohio who may go down as the greatest who ever lived.
In case you missed them:
The Rules aka The Nerdery
- A Player’s Potential Rating can be thought of as the best possible version a player // that hypothetical player’s 2k rating. EX – LeBron James’ potential is 99, because the best version of LeBron is a superhero unlike anything we’ve seen on a basketball court before. Rafael Arujao’s potential is 50, because even the best version of Hoffa Arujao played like a trash can full of vanilla pudding on skates.
- Only 10% (or 250 total) of players in the 50 drafts have a potential rating of 90 or above. 100 of those players have a 90 Potential. 150 players have 91 Potential or above. 50 players have 95 Potential or above, and only 10 players have 99 Potential.
- Any 3-time NBA All-Star (post-NBA/ABA merger) is at least a 90 potential. Any player in the top-25 for All-time NBA points, or top-15 for rebounds or NBA assists is at least a 90 potential.
- Special consideration is given to players who had careers/runs outside of the NBA that could be described as “prodigious”. Call it the Big Hype Clause. Lots of Big Hype in the 2000s. Having said that, Big Hype without results will not guarantee a 90 potential. Some guys who were “prodigies” maybe just were never gonna make it? Call that the Sebastian Telfair Clause.
Let’s specifically use the example of Sebastian Telfair, a 5’11 (at best) high school phenom from Brooklyn, New York. Telfair was the next in the long list of NYC Point Guards, a group of players that historically have been showered with humongous, almost unprecedented hype for their times/places/generations. I am careful to say almost unprecedented hype, because Sebastian Telfair came out in 2004, and NBA historians will note that this man made his NBA debut in 2003 –>
Telfair was the first big NYC point guard of the 00s and was going to get attention regardless, but it has always been my feeling that LeBron got (and fully warranted) so much hype that his hype carried over into the following season. People wanted to gas up the next big star as much as we had gassed LeBron up, because it was so productive for the media and so much fun for fans. Millions of words, thousands of TV shows, and hours upon hours of early 00’s content was created and driven by baby Bron. It was natural that the media would try to find a replacement for him.
Enter Seb Telfair, the sub-6 foot (he was not 6 feet Wiki, you are lying, I don’t believe you) high school point guard / The Next Great “Next Great NYC Hope”.
Historical records will show you that the Telfair hype was there. ^^ !! It was inarguable. But was it real? Was it real love the way that it was real love when we saw LeBron and said “Oh my God, that’s Magic Johnson in a Karl Malone package” ? Consider this passage written about Telfair by Bleacher Report’s Yaron Weitzman in 2017.
In one game, he even found himself matched up against a 6’6″ freshman point guard from Akron, Ohio, named LeBron James. Telfair held his own, though, never backing down, never afraid to attack, never doubting that he belonged.
Telfair first committed to play college ball at Louisville but soon after decided to jump straight to the NBA, where, despite his sub-six-foot frame, he was drafted 13th overall in 2004 by the Portland Trail Blazers. That roster spot came with a three-year, $5 million contract, more money than his family, in their Coney Island housing project, had ever seen. But back then, it was common for high school players to leapfrog college for the NBA. It was the six-year, $15 million shoe deal that Vaccaro and Adidas handed him that separated Telfair from the rest.Yaron Weitzman, “Broken Hoop Dreams: Where Did It Go Wrong for Former Phenom Sebastian Telfair?” BLEACHER REPORT, 2011 https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2729272-broken-hoop-dreams-where-did-it-go-wrong-for-former-phenom-sebastian-telfair
Not to kick a guy when he’s down (a quick Google of Sebastian Telfair will reveal that he is not doing so well at the moment) but in my opinion, Sebastian Telfair was never going to be this transcendent superstar. Even up there, he’s getting praised just for hanging in with LeBron. That blurb didn’t say “Telfair hit shots in Bron’s face” or “Telfair looked to be a stud” or “SOMEONE BUY THIS MAN A HUMMER IT’S THE YEAR 2000” or anything like that, it was “Telfair held his own”. He was getting praised just for looking like he belonged, which is admittedly impressive when you’re in high school (even when Bron was himself a high school kid. Still impressive. Bron was that much of a beast) but not necessarily indicative of a future superstar.
Telfair got a lot of endorsements, hype and money because of his time and place (being an NYC Point Guard the season after Bron) and he made the NBA, which he deserved. But I think Telfair sort may have reached his potential? Until I read the compelling case that Seb Telfair was a great lost NBA player brought down by circumstance… I’m going to go off of what I saw with my eyes. He wasn’t ever going to be a 6-time NBA All-Star or anything. He was what he was (a homeless man’s Kyrie Irving mixed with a little Isaiah Thomas?). I would give him like, 82ish potential? Maybe?
And that’s why we are here. We are trying to parse through and piece together the best of the best, the top 10% of basketball prospects over the last 50 years of NBA history.
But hey, I’m only human. A one man band. If you are you passionate about a particular player (or want to help make players, courts or jerseys) let us know! This is a work in progress. Just keep it in mind that if you don’t see a superstar player you like here, there’s a good chance he’s rated higher than a 90 potential.
Kenyon Martin, PF – 2000 Draft Class (Rating – 78)
The last player to play four years in college and be drafted #1 overall (probably ever, it’s a borderline shock when NCAA seniors go in the first round these days). K-Mart was NCAA National Player of the Year on the #1-Ranked Cincinnati Bearcats, before breaking his leg in his NCAA conference tournament. Despite missing March Madness due to that injury, Kenyon still went #1 overall to the New Jersey Nets in the doomed and cursed 2000 NBA Draft.
K-Mart didn’t quite reach his potential, but in 2001-02 and again in 02-03 (his 2nd and 3rd NBA season), Martin along with Jason Kidd, Kerry Kittles, Richard Jefferson and Keith Van Horn led the New Jersey Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals. And YES, they were rapidly and thoroughly shit-housed by the Lakers and Spurs respectively. Still though, you’ve gotta respect the back-to-back Finals runs.
Darius Miles, SF/SG – 2000 Draft Class (Rating – 70)
|2006-07||25||Did Not Play (injury—knee)|
|2007-08||26||Did Not Play (injury—knee)|
I didn’t realize Darius Miles was nicknamed THE PUNISHER, which is the most Year 2000 nickname ever given to an NBA player. Selected #3 overall out of East St. Louis Sr. High School, Miles was a 6’9 guard/forward who made First-team NBA All-Rookie as a 19 year old NBA freshman fresh out of homeroom. Miles’ talent level was immense — he once scored 47 points in a game vs Denver (although to be fair, any time that the LA Clippers played the Denver Nuggets from like 1980-2019, any player was liable to go off for 50, or either team for 200). Unfortunately, serious injury issues and possible attitude issues plagued his career. Wiki:
During the 2004–05 season, Miles made headlines after a confrontation with then-coach Maurice Cheeks in which Miles reportedly insulted Cheeks with racial slurs and remarked he “did not care if the team were to lose the next 20 games” since Cheeks was “going to be fired anyway”. According to ESPN’s Chad Ford and other accounts, after Cheeks asked Miles to leave, Miles’ response was “Make me.” When Cheeks left the room to see Blazers’ general manager John Nash, Miles ran behind him shouting, “That’s right, run to your daddy.” On April 19, 2005, he scored a career-high 47 points in a loss against the Denver Nuggets, which equaled the eighth-highest single-game output in franchise history.
Late in the 2005–2006 season, Miles severely injured his right knee. Five days later, on April 15, 2006, he played in his 40th and last game of the season. He missed the entire 2006–07 and 2007–08 NBA seasons due to microfracture surgery to repair his injury.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darius_Miles
Miles didn’t reach his potential, but it’s worth noting that the early 00s Clip teams of Miles, Quentin Richardson, Corey Magette, Lamar Odom and Elton Brand were everybody’s 2nd favourite team for two solid years there. They were the 2000’s NBA’s version of the 2019 Cleveland Browns. In 2001-02, the Clippers looked to be on the verge of their first playoff birth since parachute pants, before losing 9 out of their last 12 games down the stretch and finishing 5 games out of the playoffs. Classic LA Clipping.
That off-season, Darius Miles was traded to Cleveland for Andre Miller, where he became a key ingredient to the Cleveland tank job that landed the Cavaliers LeBron James. If you were to pick the pivot point of Miles’ career, I think it would be that 01-02 playoff drive/soul-crushing collapse. Things may have gone very differently for D Miles had those Clippers made the playoffs in 2002.
DerMarr Johnson, SF – 2000 Draft Class (Rating – 69)
|2002-03||22||Did Not Play (injury—neck)|
They didn’t know what to do with him back when “what position does he play?” was a real concern that actually hurt careers, but if DerMarr Johnson came around today he would be something special. Check out this scouting report from NBADraft.net, where they graded him to be a 95/120 prospect:
NBA Comparison: Scottie Pippen
Strengths: Very good athlete, can shoot with super range. DerMarr Johnson has abilities almost never found in a 6-9 player. His offensive potential is limitless. DerMarr has one of the silkiest touches from outside, combine that with great handles and super athleticism and you have a special talent. DerMarr can play the 1,2, or 3 positions and is a very good passer.https://www.nbadraft.net/players/dermarr-johnson
Special Talent! Super Athleticism! Scottie Pippen!! The 2000 NBA Draft had so many busts. It was by far the bustiest draft of my lifetime, and not just because of Eddy Curry (lol bad joke too easy). After attending the University of Cincinnati with the aforementioned Kenyon Martin and being selected 6th overall by Atlanta in 2000, DerMarr Johnson was nearly paralyzed in a serious car accident on Sep 13 2002. At 22 years old, Johnson was left in a halo neck brace, his NBA career in serious jeopardy. Miraculously, the man known as “DerMarrvelous” would return to the NBA after only one year away, and go on to play 14 more seasons in the NBA / the G-league / overseas, all on a broken freakin’ neck (Copyright Kurt Angle).
You could argue that Johnson was never going to truly pan out and be a star in the physical, hand-checking era of NBA Basketball. My response is, if you put DerMarr Johnson’s modern skillset into a modern 2k player’s hands, that combo could have revolutionized the virtual 2000s. A position-less wing with A+ athleticism and shooting touch for his size and position, but no post game and a total lack of fundamentals. DerMarr Johnson was 20 years ahead of his time. If you listen to only one thing I write, let it be that the 2000 NBA Draft was cursed. The 2001 draft too. Between the 120 players selected in those two drafts, pretty much only one man panned out fully.
And that man, as we say in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, is a “beauty” —
Zach Randolph, PF/C – 2001 Draft Class (Rating – 74)
Here the fuck we go. I was contemplating just writing ZEE BO in all caps / like 45 point font and being done with it. One of my all-time favourites (and yours too, if you have a beating heart inside of your chest), Zach Randolph was both charmingly old school (with his herky, jerky, pump-fake oriented, no-vert post game that came straight out of 1968) and charmingly new school (in that he sold weed to teammates).
In his prime, Zach Randolph was the safest 20 and 10 bet in the NBA. He’s a 99 in my heart. This is only going to get less coherent and not moreso, let’s back out now. ZEEBO 4 PRESIDENT.
Now back to your regularly scheduled 2000 / 2001 Draft Busts.
Not 90 (85 ish?) – Kwame Brown, PF/C – 2001 Draft Class
He’s not a 90, I just wanted to note his presence here. It’s possible I am wrong on this one, maybe there’s a universe where Kwame Brown tries harder, receives proper coaching, and pans out to be a multi-time All-star. It’s also possible that he was, to quote Stephen A Smith, a scrub. In fact, here are numerous examples of Stephen A Smith literally screaming at the mere suggestion that Kwame Brown was a human being worth 0.1 of a shit.
I honestly think Stephen A. hurt Kwame’s legacy long-term. It’s tough to argue that he was some great lost talent in the face of that kind of counter argument ^
Eddie Griffin, PF/C – 2001 Draft Class (Rating – 66)
|2003-04||21||Did Not Play (rehab—substance abuse)|
OK, that stat chart isn’t very not impressive, but we have entered the “fight me” portion of this piece. I’m ready to get into an internet flame war over these next two guys. While I’m unsure with Kwame Brown, I am as sure as a human being can be of an abstract and unprovable concept about this one: Eddie Griffin should have been a fucking stud.
A PF who was NBA-ready (physically) as a 17 year old, Eddie Griffin was a 2-way shot blocking PF dynamo who dominated opponents in both high school and the NCAA. Though he was supremely talented, Griffin’s (I hate this term, but) demons simply got the best of him. Some people don’t reach their potential; Eddie Griffin didn’t sniff the bottom rung of his potential. Let Wiki tell you this tale.
After a standout career at Roman Catholic High School of Philadelphia in which he was named Parade Magazine’s National Player of the Year, he competed in the McDonald’s All American Game and led Roman to the Philadelphia Catholic League Championship in his junior and senior years. However, in a harbinger of things to come, Griffin was forced to finish his senior year via correspondence courses after getting in a fight with a teammate.
As a freshman, Griffin averaged 17.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 4.4 blocks for Seton Hall and was at one point thought to be the potential top pick in the 2001 NBA draft. He was named the nation’s Freshman of the Year by The Sporting News.
In January 2001, Griffin got in a fight with teammate Ty Shine. Griffin left the school in somewhat acrimonious circumstances after his freshman year, and made himself available for the NBA Draft.
Despite Griffin’s outstanding freshman year at Seton Hall, the lingering question about his attitude saw him slip to the seventh overall pick of the 2001 NBA draft, where he was selected by the New Jersey Nets, who immediately traded the rights to him over to the Houston Rockets in exchange for those to Jason Collins, Brandon Armstrong, and Richard Jefferson (all of whom selected likewise in the 2001 draft).https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_Griffin_(basketball)
Eddie Griffin struggled mightily with alcohol and temperament issues, fighting dudes routinely and missing the entirety of his third NBA season via a rehab stint. But when he was on the floor, his talent (and productivity, until the NBA) was unquestionable.
I don’t want to poke fun at someone who was obviously hampered by some serious issues, but there is one more blurb on EG’s wiki that is too insane not to mention here:
On March 30, 2006, Griffin was involved in a bizarre car crash. Filling in the ignominious circumstances preceding the collision, witnesses and friends stated that he was watching a “pornographic movie on a DVD in his vehicle, and was masturbating.”. After the accident, he proceeded to enter a nearby convenience store, where, as per the store’s security camera footage, he lamented his being drunk and without driver’s license to the clerk; it also showed Griffin begging the man whose SUV he had struck not to call the police and promising to buy the gentleman a new car in exchange.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_Griffin_(basketball)
Again, this not meant to be a joke at Griffin’s expense. It’s an observation about the insanity of addiction. But if you look at this objectively, Eddie Griffin crashed his 00s Hummer -With-The-DVD-Player because he got drunk and started watching porn while fucking driving. An NBA player was beating off while driving down Walnut street on a Sunday evening. That situation is a little hilarious. Come on. Again, please note that any humour here is coming from the absurd depth of tragedy involved with addiction itself, not the person suffering from it. For example, there is very little separating Eddie Griffin from my own alcoholic father, who used to steal an 11 year old’s bike (and my fucking helmet that didn’t fit him, smh) to ride across our small Canadian town to buy booze when he was too drunk to drive a car. Even as a young boy choking back tears I would look at this angry, seething shell of a human man riding down the street on a child’s bike with a child’s helmet, and I would begrudgingly admit to myself how fucking funny he looked. Like “OK fuck’s sake pop, I mean I’m not made of stone here”.
Jesus, sorry for that ^^ My point is that addiction is a desperate state that turns people into cartoon characters, which can be pretty funny when it’s not happening to you. Slightly less funny when you’re in it.
Tragically, Eddie Griffin passed away in a car accident in 2007, after driving through a protective railway barrier and being struck by a moving train. His blood alcohol level at the time was over 3x above the legal limit in Texas, and his body was so badly burned that he was only identifiable from dental records. Eddie Griffin barely got out of the starting gates. A life barely started and potential unfulfilled. A true tragedy.
Dajuan Wagner – 2002 Draft Class (Rating – 65)
|2005-06||22||Did Not Play (illness—colitis)|
Drafted 6th overall in 2002 by Cleveland (again, historians will note that Cleveland made this draft selection in 2003) DaJuan Wagner was a basketball prodigy from New Jersey who was hampered by injuries and afflicted by colitis as a young NBA Player. Much like Eddie Griffin, Wagner never quite got out of the starting gate. Check out this resume though, via Wiki
DaJuan Wagner is considered by many to be the greatest high school basketball player in New Jersey history.
Wagner attended Camden High School. He debuted on December 19, 1997 against Highland, scoring 12 points: he went on to play 27 games in his first season, averaging 27.3 points and recording a season-high 45 against Red Bank on February 13, 1998, and at the end of the season he received the Freshman of the Year award from ESPN. In his sophomore year he played 17 games, with a new career-high 57 points against Pennsauken Tech on January 26: he finished the season averaging 35.3 points per game, and won the ESPN Sophomore of the Year award.
The following year he played 28 games, and recorded another career high: on January 31, 2000 he scored 80 points (24 of which in the fourth quarter) in a 122–66 win against Pennsauken Tech. At the end of the season he recorded an average of 31.9 points per game. For his senior year he debuted on December 15 scoring 36 points against Eastern, followed by a 50-points performance against Bishop Eustace.
On January 16, 2001 he scored 100 points against Camden County Tech. He converted 42 of his 61 field goals (with 10 3-pointers) and 6 free throws: he scored 25 points in the first quarter, 21 in the second, 26 in the third and 28 in the fourth. He went on to score 50 or more points 4 more times during the season, and averaged 42.5 points in 29 games played as a senior. He scored 3,462 points in high school (the most in New Jersey high school history, breaking former high school star John Somogyi’s scoring record of 3,451 points; when Somogyi played there was no 3-point shot), and scored 25 points in the McDonald’s All-American Game.
Wagner played one year of college basketball at the University of Memphis. He scored a season-high 32 points against Old Dominion on November 14, 2001 in his 2nd game with Memphis, and tied his season high on March 26, 2002 against Temple during the NIT semifinal. He contributed with 16 points in the title game against South Carolina and at the end of the season he earned several NIT and conference honors, including the MVP award of the 2002 NIT. He also broke the record for points in a single season for Memphis with 762.
His coach, John Calipari, revoked Wagner’s scholarship after his freshman year to force him to enter the NBA, because Calipari believed that Wagner should not avoid the money he would receive as a first-round draft pick.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dajuan_Wagner
Classic Coach Cal! There’s a universe where DaJuan Wagner keeps his colon and is 100% healthy, and he is the original Dwyane Wade to LeBron James in Cleveland. Meet me behind the dumpster at lunchtime if you disagree plz and thank u. For more anecdotal examples of Wagner’s game, check out this Reddit thread from Cleveland Cavaliers Reddit, which is no doubt a happy and rational place to be.
The short answer is that Dejaun Wagner was a really good basketball player, but we never got to find out if he could be a really good NBA player.
I believe he would have been a really good NBA player. If we had not lost Boozer and Wagner, I believe a team featuring Lebron, Z, Andy, Wagner and Boozer could have been very, very special. That core would have made it much easier for Lebron to recruit Michael Redd. I really believe that team would have competed for multiple titles.
Dejaun was a born scorer with incredible physical attributes. He was lightning quick with the ability to get to the rack and play above the rim (even at his height). His quickness allowed him to get to any spot on the floor. His handles allowed him to take his man off the dribble and break down opposing defenses. As a scorer, he could obviously shoot the ball, but he may have needed more time to develop a consistent three point shot.
We don’t know how much time he spent in the NBA before his physical ailments started to impact his game. What we do know is that he wasn’t in the league long enough to completely get comfortable and get a feel for the NBA game. We simply don’t know what his game would have looked like once he settled in and things slowed down.
For me, he and Sexton aren’t comparable. Sexton is a point guard. Dejaun was a 2 guard. Sexton can score but he isn’t a “scorer” per se. Dejaun was a natural scorer and a silky smooth player. I don’t know the measurables, but Sexton looks bigger and stronger. Sexton has much more upside as a defender because of his size/strength and because he will guard point guards. Dejaun may have ended up as a sixth man because you would probably have to hide him on defense due to his size.Reddit User u/sallright via Reddit https://www.reddit.com/r/clevelandcavs/comments/azn4aq/just_how_good_was_dajuan_wagner/
The most telling thing in that thread might be the only negative comment about Wagner: a guy with “troll” in his name who said “That dude wasn’t shit”. He received 10 downvotes. This tells me that generally speaking, the Cleveland fans who saw Wagner play think he had a chance at making it, and they disagree with people who think he had no chance. So suck it troll dude, this PROVES ONCE AND FOR ALL that indeed, Wagner WAS shit. Uh, no wait, not that.
The argument against DaJuan Wagner making it would be his size, and his “low basketball IQ” which is really a fancy way of saying “dude shot all of the fucking time”. My counter to that is: this man scored 100 points in a game in high school // suck it 100 times. DaJuan Wagner could have been a mini-Allen Iverson.
Fun addendum to this story I found out while googling “DaJuan Wagner”: DaJuan Wagner Jr aka DJ Wagner is a 14 year old who is currently tearing up South Jersey, and is already being tabbed as a potential top 2023 NBA prospect (The Bronny Jr Draft!). Basketball is so great.
Jay Williams – 2002 Draft Class (Rating – 80)
This one is less of a hot take. Jay Williams was one of the greatest college basketball players of the century, one of the best Dukies of all time, and had he not gotten into a career-ending motorcycle accident in 2003, could have gone down as a really great NBA player too. Wiki –
At Duke, Williams, a 6-foot-2-inch (1.88 m), 195-pound (88 kg) point guard, became one of the few freshmen in school history to average double figures in scoring and was named ACC Rookie of the Year and National Freshman of the Year by The Sporting News, averaging 14.5 points, 6.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per contest. He was also a first team Freshman All-American by Basketball Times.
The next season Williams started all 39 games and led the Devils to the 2001 NCAA National Championship, earning NABC Player of the Year honors. His 841 points broke Dick Groat’s 49-year Duke record for points in a season, while he led all tournament scorers with a 25.7 ppg average. Williams also set the NCAA Tournament record for three-pointers attempted (66), while also making 132 three-point field goals—good for the sixth-highest total in NCAA history. His 21.6 ppg led the ACC and made him the first Duke player since Danny Ferry (1989) to lead the league in scoring. His 6.1 assists were good for second in the league, while he also ranked second in three-point field goal percentage (.427) and first in three-pointers made (3.4 per game). Williams was widely considered the best player in college basketball, earning both the prestigious Naismith Award and Wooden Award as College Basketball’s Player of the Year in 2002. He graduated with a degree in Sociology in 2002, and left Duke with 2,079 points, good for sixth all-time, and with his jersey number 22 retired at Senior Day.Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Williams_(basketball)
Dick Groat lol.
Darko Milicic, C/PF – 2003 Draft Class (Rating – 64)
I know lol. This take is kind of hot, which is why I’m closing on it. While I’m ready to die on Proverbial Hill for D Wagner and E Griffin, I’m less sure about Donnie Darko, who was out of the league at 27 years old despite not having colitis or crippling alcoholism.
Check out this scouting report from 2003 though:
Solid athlete who can run the floor and jump like few others his size … Creative scorer who understands how to set-up his defender off the dribble … Excellent finisher when receiving the ball on the break or out on the perimeter as he can cut to the lane and even dunk in traffic … On defense he is an excellent help defender who shows promise of being an adequate shot-blocker … Does a very good job of using his long arms to grab most rebounds around his area despite usually being physically out-matched by his opponents … Can be a nightmare for opposing players to defend due to his versatility as he is too quick for most power forwards and too tall for most small forwards to defend in the post … Excellent ball handler for his size … Plays extremely aggressive and wont back down from a challenge … Competitive, he’ll do whatever it takes to win … Shows court awareness beyond his years as he will adjust his game according to how the defense plays him … Can shoot the ball from 20 feet with consistency and even has the ability to extend out to the three point line.The Draft Review https://www.thedraftreview.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=664:darko-milicic&catid=60&Itemid=342
Of course, that doesn’t begin to approach Chad Ford’s legendary (and numerous) blog-gasms about Darko Milicic.
But what really excites them is his mature low-post play. “More than Nowitzki, Gasol or even Divac, Darko has a nasty streak in him that will help him succeed in the post,” a league executive said. “A lot of the Europeans are really threes in the pros. He’ll be a true low-post player. His coach is doing us a huge favor by forcing him to develop those skills now. He already has moves that remind me of (Hakeem) Olajuwon in the post. Once we get a hold of him, the sky’s the limit.”Milicic Not Your Typical European Teen Phenom – Chad Ford, ESPN 2003 https://www.espn.com/nba/columns/story?id=1490974
Ford: Darko was just phenomenal. It couldn’t have been more perfect in a certain way. At some point the coaches got involved and asked to see particular things. And Darko couldn’t miss and was aggressive and rose to the moment with the players watching. I was sitting next to (Dumars). He’s not expressive, he plays everything close to the vest. But Darko was just so impressive. It was literally the best workout I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen hundreds and it was the best. When you have a 7-1 kid, who is 17 years old, doing the things he was doing, it was a “wow” moment, especially for a team that needed a big man. There was just a buzz afterward.The Chosen Ones: An Oral History of the 2003 NBA Draft – Brian Windhorst, ESPN 2013 https://www.espn.com/nba/draft2013/story/_/page/2003-draft-history-1/an-oral-history-2003-lottery-draft
So where would you rank Darko’s potential? If you’re Chad Ford, 10000000 / 10 clearly. To me, 90 feels not quite high enough, while simultaneously feeling 25 points too high? After thinking about this for an amount of time that can only be described as “wasteful”, I went with the 90 number. Gotta be honest I am not ready to die in a Serbian Flame War over it, though.
If you made it to the end of this, thank you for reading! We’ll be back with about 17ish more of these things, detailing all 250 players with a 90+ potential.