30 NBA players who were traded before becoming stars

Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady
Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady / Lisa Blumenfeld/GettyImages
19 of 30

12. Dominique Wilkins

Few NBA fans likely know that legend Dominique Wilkins was actually drafted by the Utah Jazz in 1982 instead of the Atlanta Hawks. However, Wilkins refused to play in Utah, spurring them to trade him to the Hawks. Had Wilkins agreed to play with the Jazz, he would have potentially been paired with John Stockton and Karl Malone, who were selected 16th and 13th, respectively, in the 1984 and 1985 NBA Drafts.

Had that been the case, then Utah could have built a dynasty around three Hall of Famers. Instead, Wilkins became the greatest player in Atlanta Hawks history and one of the most dominant scorers in NBA history. In 12 seasons with the Hawks, Niq averaged an outstanding 26.4 points and 6.9 rebounds before he was controversially shipped to the Clippers.

Seeing one of the most exciting players in NBA history shipped out instead of being able to finish his career in Atlanta likely hurt, and Wilkins bounced around after being traded. He played for the Clippers, Celtics, Spurs, and Magic, with two international stints mixed in, before ending his career in 1999. While he didn't win a championship as a member of the Hawks, neither did the Jazz, who likely wish they hadn't been forced to trade him.