30 NBA players that got better after leaving their first team

NBA (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
NBA (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images) /
12 of 31
Michael Finley
Michael Finley-Mandatory Credit: Ronald Martinez /Allsport /

30 NBA players who got better after leaving their first team: 20. Michael Finley

Michael Finley is the kind of guy who is only on this list because his first-team gave up on him a little too quickly. Finley was drafted 21st overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 1995 NBA Draft and averaged 15.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game as a rookie for a playoff team. Then, during his second season, the Dallas Mavericks were looking to unload Jason Kidd (more on him later) so Phoenix sent out a package of Finley, Sam Cassell, A.C. Green and draft compensation.

Finley was immediately one of the most important members of the Mavericks, leading the team in scoring (21.5), assists (4.9) and steals (1.6) in his first campaign. Then, as the team added generational talents in Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash, he thrived as part of the team. Finley made two All-Star appearances as a member of the Mavericks and during his nine seasons in Dallas, averaged 19.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.2 steals.

After his lengthy stint in Dallas, he would sign with the San Antonio Spurs in free agency where he would transition to a bench role. In what is now commonly known as a 3-and-D wing, Finley focused on playing elite defense and hitting long-range shots (38.2 percent on 3.7 attempts per game over his five seasons in San Antonio). Finley was a part of the 2007 Spurs team that beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, earning him his lone championship.