30 NBA players that got better after leaving their first team

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Gerald Wallace
Gerald Wallace (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images) /

30 NBA players who got better after leaving their first team: 27. Gerald Wallace

Gerald Wallace’s time with the Sacramento Kings is easily forgettable. After being drafted 25th overall in the 2001 draft, he struggled to crack the rotation for a Kings team competing for championships. After flashing signs of his athleticism (including in the 2002 Dunk Contest) Wallace had done enough for the expansion Charlotte Bobcats to pick him up and became the longest-tenured member of the franchise from that draft.

Wallace immediately became a double-digit scorer, averaging 11.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. He was a starring part of the first Bobcats team to make the postseason in 2010. He was also named an All-Star that season, when he averaged 18.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. He also managed to make an All-Defensive team that season.

Wallace led the league in steals once and was a popular player because of the reckless abandon he played with on a nightly basis. Earning the nickname “Crash,” Wallace was not afraid to risk his safety to put on a show and help the Bobcats win. He notably holds the distinction of being one of only three players to average at least two blocks and at least two steals per game over the course of a full year.

The season following their playoff appearance, Wallace was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers where he would spend parts of two seasons. The last fun trivia note of his career comes with his trade to the New Jersey Nets for two players and a first-round pick that was top-three protected. Famously, then General Manager Billy King said this was the protection he chose because he only thought there were three good players in the 2013 draft. Unfortunately for King, Damian Lillard was drafted sixth overall with that draft pick. Further complicating his Nets tenure, Wallace was part of the infamous trade that brought Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets.