30 NBA players who were traded before becoming stars

Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady
Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady / Lisa Blumenfeld/GettyImages
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1. Moses Malone

Former 3-time MVP Moses Malone was one of the most dominant big men in NBA history but few remember that he got traded before becoming a bona fide superstar. After the ABA merged with the NBA, Malone was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers, who traded him to the Buffalo Braves, which later became the LA Clippers, where he played just two games. He then demanded to be traded after not receiving playing time and he was sent to the Houston Rockets as a result.

There, his career took off. He made five all-star teams in his six seasons, averaging 24 points and 15 rebounds as a Rocket and winning two of his MVPs. He was later traded for the fourth time, this time to the Philadelphia 76ers, where he led them to the 1983 championship and won yet another MVP—a Finals MVP. While the Blazers traded him first, they did so because they had Hall of Famer Bill Walton and wanted to flip Malone for picks.

The Braves, on the other hand, had an ABA star on their roster and opted to play John Shumate over him, missing out on the chance to pair Malone with prolific scorers Adrian Dantly and Bob McAdoo. Had the Clippers not foolishly traded him due to a lack of playing time, the course of NBA history could have looked much different.