Yes, again, you make that pick. You make that pick 99 out of a 100 times. The thing people forget about the Piston's draft that year was that it was an unexpected windfall. They weren't expected to pick that high and were coming off a solid year with a packed roster. They only picked third because of the consequences of a years ago trade and some incredibly lucky bounces of the ping pong balls. You're telling me you don't take a chance there? That you wouldn't take the potential franchise center and sit them on the bench to develop for a few years? To build around when your core of players starts to age and fall apart right about, oh, now? If you think that you're either a) deluded by hindsight, b) a sportswriter, c) running the Knicks. Dumars makes that pick again and so does every other GM in his spot.
Look, there are possible actions and potential actions. I have the potential to walk down the street and punch the third person I see as hard as I can but I'm really not likely to, am I? I can do it. But I won't. It's not in keeping with everything leading up to that point or the kind of person I am and the choices I make. The chances of time bouncing down that particular pair of trousers is really slim. The potential exists but you won't ever see it happen. On the other hand, someone like Dumars is bound not just by the pressure of tradition and common wisdom directing his hand but he's also constrained by the reality created by every choice made up to that point. Decisions are not made in a vacuum, what comes before them influences the possibilities.
In retrospect, it was a bad pick. Plenty of other good players available to be had that didn't wind up playing at the Palace. And, at the moment, nothing in return for a player who never really worked out. But at the time, it was just about the only way Mr. Dumars could have gone. Everything pointed to Darko. Experience. Need. Fate. The pick could have been handled better, the player could have been tended better, but it was a bust. That's the draft. You're trying to judge how an eighteen year old is going to turn out years down the line – that's not an easy task. Busts happens. You take the knock, pick yourself up, and move on.