30 NBA players that got better after leaving their first team

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Chauncey Billups
Chauncey Billups (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

30 NBA players who got better after leaving their first team: 5. Chauncey Billups

Much like Joe Johnson earlier, Chauncey Billups was drafted by the Boston Celtics during a time when disarray would be putting it nicely for the way they were ran. Drafted third overall, Billups should have been part of the future alongside Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker. After 51 games, because the team could not figure out if he was a point guard or shooting guard, Billups was sent to the Toronto Raptors. He played just 29 games for them before being traded again. Over two seasons with the Denver Nuggets Billups only played 58 games and was dealt while injured to the Orlando Magic. He never played a game for the Magic and his standing in the league was becoming questionable.

The Minnesota Timberwolves gave him a chance and for two years, he got back on his feet. Billups started to figure out how to be a more consistent part of a playoff team, coming off the bench. He would sign with the Detroit Pistons in 2002, and the rest was history. He earned his name as Mr. Big Shot and played grueling defense for one of the best defensive units in the league. As the de facto leader of the Goin’ to Work Pistons, Billups was named the Finals MVP in the title victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004. The blossoming star averaged 21.0 points, 5.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals on shooting splits of .501/.471/.929 in those Finals.

Over the next four seasons in Detroit, Billups made three All-Star appearances, made two All-NBA teams and two All-Defensive teams. The Pistons would make another NBA Finals and multiple Conference Finals, cementing his status as a Detroit sports legend. Two games into the 2008-2009 season, Billups was swapped with Allen Iverson and took over where he left off with his second stop with the Nuggets. He made two more All-Star games and another All-NBA team while helping the Nuggets make an appearance in the Conference Finals in 2009.

After his time in Denver, Billups played part of a season with the New York Knicks, two seasons with the LA Clippers and a final 19 games with the Detroit Pistons before calling it a career.