30 NBA players that got better after leaving their first team

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Ben Wallace
Ben Wallace (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

30 NBA players who got better after leaving their first team: 10. Ben Wallace

It took two teams not quite understanding what they had in Ben Wallace for the Detroit Pistons to end up with a transformational defensive force that would help propel them to years of Conference Finals appearances. Wallace goes down as one of the best undrafted players of all-time and it started with him getting a chance with the Washington Bullets.

With the Bullets, Wallace barely got any time on the court. He played a total of 197 minutes in his rookie season. In his second year, he averaged 16.8 minutes per game and then was traded to the Orlando Magic. He played 46 games in his one season for the Magic before being traded again, sent to the Detroit Pistons as part of a package for Grant Hill.

Wallace immediately improved in Detroit, finishing second in the league in rebounding with 13.2 per game. During nine seasons with the Pistons, Wallace was named to four All-Star teams, five All-NBA teams and five All-Defensive First Teams. Wallace led the league in rebounds twice and blocks once. He won four Defensive Player of the Year awards in five seasons.

The Goin’ to Work Pistons features prominently on this list because they embody exactly what this list is about. They were great players who did not get to live up to their full potential in their first stops and then gelled together to form a team that made six straight Eastern Conference Finals trips, made two NBA Finals appearances and won the 2004 NBA title. Ben Wallace was the heart and soul (and famous hair) of those teams.