As I was watching highlights of Denver's 58 point slaughtering of New Orleans, I couldn't help but feel nostalgic. I'm sure every single Pistons fan has seen clips of this series and wondered, "What if we still had Chauncey Billups?"
I wasn't, though. Not this time, at least.
I already know the answer to that. I saw it the past few seasons. Nothing about this season would have changed with Chauncey except for the fact that we may have lasted a little longer in the playoffs due to a better seeding and from having one better player. Joe wouldn't have traded him if he thought things would have been any different from the past few seasons.
Instead, I was sitting in my best David/Chris Paul pose thinking a little unorthodox. I was pondering, "What if we never drafted Tayshaun Prince?"
Ironically enough, the guys the Pistons may be pursuing this summer are guys they could have had via past drafts.
In lieu of Tayshaun at the No. 23 spot in the 2002 NBA Draft, the Pistons could have drafted Utah's Carlos Boozer (he was drafted by Cleveland at No. 35).
Never drafting Tayshaun then frees up the small forward position in 2003 when we drafted Darko Milicic. We could have a number of guys instead, most notably Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade.
Well, I think we'd all rather have a 7-foot pole than Darko Milicic at that pick in hindsight, but it's frustrating to know we could have had some of these guys we may now be pursuing. It's even more frustrating to see Tayshaun, who never really developed past 2005, most likely at the end of the road in Detroit.
Assume we drafted Boozer in 2002, then Anthony in 2003, and still made the Rasheed trade in 2004; we'd probably still have Chauncey on our team and a couple more banners in the rafters. I don't think we make the 'Sheed trade if we drafted Boozer and Bosh in consecutive years, so that's a good way of looking at it; that not drafting one of them was a good thing.
But can you imagine how good a team of Bosh/Boozer, Anthony, 'Sheed, Billups, and Hamilton would be? What if Mehmet Okur stuck around, too? I think we're seeing how good an energized Billups and Anthony can be in Denver right now (and that's not meant to take anything away from Denver's other players).
Of course, we could play this game all day --and I think it's a fun game-- but in reality it's not going to change anything. I have to realize that and so do other Pistons fans. Lamenting on Joe's draft pick in 2003, or any other year for that matter, won't change what's happened.
As I've said before, the Pistons were still the best team in the Eastern Conference for the past decade, despite our 20/20 hindsight revealing we potentially could have been even better. Yeah, it's frustrating we're actually pursuing guys we could have already had. Instead of having them to add to our current mix, we're going to be making an exchange (if we even get any of them). It's frustrating, but c'est la vie.
That being said, I'm really looking forward to this off-season and playing some "what if" games we can actually execute in the future and not "what if" games we can only sit back and make up history that never was and never will be.