Darko vs. Kwame: The Great Debate

There are many great debates in the world of sports. For starters, Magic vs. Bird comes to mind. There is also McGwire vs. Sosa, Nadal vs. Federer, LeBron vs. Kobe, Stone Cold vs. The Rock, etc. But there is one that no one thinks about. However, as a warning, it would be fair to say this comparison falls short of the list above: Kwame Brown vs. Darko Milicic. 

Here we have two former high lottery picks. Brown was drafted number one overall in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards. Darko was drafted number two overall in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons.

In this comparison, it’s very easy to say Brown is the bigger bust. He went number one overall, as previously mentioned. He has career averages of 6.8 PPG and 5.6 RPG in 11 seasons.

Brown’s scouting report was one that said he possessed the skill set of Kevin Garnett and Chris Webber. It also said that he can handle the ball like a guard, and that defensively, he will be a massive shot blocker. Is there any part of this scouting report that is close to being accurate?

Brown has been on the constant receiving end of criticism – particularly from ESPN NBA Analyst Stephen A. Smith. Simply put, Brown has been discussed more as a bust than as a player. In fact, since his tenure with the Wizards, Brown has been on six different teams – including the 76ers, who he just signed a two-year contract with.

Milicic was hyped as a international teen phenom. He was acclaimed to be a skilled big man with range from behind the arc. Also, he was said to have a high basketball IQ. On defense, Milicic was supposed to be an excellent help defender, as well as becoming an “adequate” shot blocker.

In nine seasons, Darko’s career averages are 6.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG and 1.3 BPG. Since his start as a Piston, Milicic has been on four different teams. The part in the scouting report about Milicic becoming a solid shot blocker came into fruition.

When Brown was the first person taken, there wasn’t really a can’t miss superstar chosen after him. Tyson Chandler and Joe Johnson were taken in the top ten. Zach Randolph and Tony Parker were chosen in the middle of the draft. Pau Gasol was chosen behind Brown and Chandler. The Wizards might have wanted to reconsider by taking Gasol, but much like Memphis, they would have eventually traded him. The 2001 NBA Draft wasn’t a draft to remember.

Darko, on the other hand, was a prospect in one of the great draft classes of all-time. He was selected after LeBron James and taken before Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade – in chronological order.

It is one thing to be a bust as the second pick in the draft. It’s another to be a bust and the players taken immediately after accumulated 20 All-Star appearances, 13 All-NBA selections and three NBA Championships. Keep in mind, that is up to this point. Although, to be fair, Darko does have an NBA Championship to his resume. There is something for him to smile about.

Where are they now?

Brown is now a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. He is slated to be the starting center for head coach Doug Collins. I guess Collins hasn’t learned his lesson after what Brown told him during pre-draft workouts with the Wizards. You know, when he said, “If you draft me, you’ll never regret it.” Let that sink in for a moment.

Darko is currently a free agent, and believe it or not, he has sparked interest from the Chicago Bulls. This is appears the be the best option the Bulls believe to have found in replacing Omer Asik. There is Nazr Mohammed, but he is close to signing with the Nets. This is just another classic case of desperate times calling for desperate measures.