30 NBA players who were traded before becoming stars

Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady
Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady / Lisa Blumenfeld/GettyImages
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15. Lauri Markkanen

NBA all-star Lauri Markkanen is one of the better players in the league now but was traded three times before he found stardom. Markkanen was initially drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves but was included in the trade that brought Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. He then spent his first four seasons in Chicago, putting up solid numbers, before being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he spent a season before being included in the Donovan Mitchell deal.

Now a member of the Utah Jazz, Markkanen has begun to thrive. He made his first all-star team and won Most Improved Player of the Year in the 2022–23 season, establishing himself as one of the better sharpshooting big men in the NBA. In his first 82 games in Utah—over two seasons—he's averaged a stellar 25.2 points and 8.7 rebounds on 49.7/38.9/87.2 shooting splits, surprising close to the legendary 50/40/90 club.

With numbers like that, at least one of his former teams is likely wondering why he didn't breakout for them. Some players are just late bloomers, though five seasons and four teams is an unusual path to stardom.