30 NBA players who were traded before becoming stars

Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady
Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady / Lisa Blumenfeld/GettyImages
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16. Chauncey Billups

Chauncey Billups is not in the Hall of Fame, though he is a finalist to make it and deserving of the honor. His making it would cap a surprising career for Billups, who played for four teams and was traded three times in his first five seasons before signing with the Pistons. Detroit proved to be a perfect fit for him, with them assembling a rag-tag collection of castoffs that melded well together.

Although his numbers—16.5 points and 6.2 assists during his eight seasons in Detroit—might not jump off the screen, he was arguably the best player on the Pistons teams that made five straight Conference Finals during the 2000s.

He made a name for himself for his ability to hit tough shots in the clutch and that came in handy during their back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals. Billups was key to Detroit's offensive attack, with him attacking Shaq in the pick and roll and setting up the likes of Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace.

That resulted in one of the biggest upsets in NBA history, with the Pistons dismantling a heavily favored Lakers team and the Billups winning the Finals MVP. He nearly did it again the following NBA Finals, relentlessly attacking Hall of Famer Tony Parker in pick-and-rolls and isolating him in the post. Had it not been for a late push in Game 7, he might have won back-to-back Finals MVPs.

Billups then led Detroit to a franchise record of 64-18, though they failed to return to the Finals and eventually decided to rebuild. That resulted in Billups being traded to the Nuggets, where he helped Carmelo Anthony make the Western Conference Finals, proving he was a true winner as a player.