30 NBA players who were traded before becoming stars

Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady
Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady / Lisa Blumenfeld/GettyImages
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11. Ben Wallace

Hall of Fame center Ben Wallace had an unusual path to stardom. He was undrafted out of Virginia Union and bounced around trying to prove himself as a member of the Washington Wizards, Indiana Pacers, and Orlando Magic before being traded to the Detroit Pistons in a sign-and-trade for Grant Hill. That might be the most underrated trade in NBA history since Wallace quickly proved to be a perfect fit for the hard-nosed Pistons.

He was one of the best shot blockers of the 2000s, serving as a defense anchor for some of the best defenses of that era. With Wallace, the Pistons went to five straight Eastern Conference Finals and back-to-back NBA Finals. Detroit won one in 2004 against the Shaq and Kobe Lakers, breaking up one of the most dominant dynamic duos, with Wallace being key to slowing down Shaq.

In fact, they almost topped that upset by nearly beating the Duncan-Parker-Ginobili Spurs in 2005, with Wallace forcing the normally dominant Duncan into several ugly shooting performances. After leaving Detroit, Wallace bounced around, playing in Chicago and Cleveland, before finishing his 16-year career back in Detroit for the team that helped make him a star.