30 NBA players who were traded before becoming stars

Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady
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22. Bill Laimbeer

Pistons legend Bill Laimbeer didn't initially look like a star when he was selected 65th overall by the Cavaliers. In fact, he was forced to spend what would have been his rookie season playing in Italy because they didn't have room for him and after a season and a half in the NBA, he was dealt to the Pistons.

That quickly proved to be a mistake, with Laimbeer's hardnosed play serving as the backbone for the Bad Boy Pistons. During the mid-to-late 1980s, Laimbeer made a name for himself as an instigator and enforcer whose defense gave them an identity. Despite his negative reputation, Laimbeer was a terrific rebounder and a prototypical stretch four who could both score in the post and knock down mid-range and long-range shots.

At his peak, he made four all-star teams and helped Isaiah Thomas lead Detroit to a staggering six straight Eastern Conference Finals, three consecutive NBA Finals, and back-to-back NBA titles. That run of dominance ended the Boston Celtics dynasty and prevented the Michael Jordan Bulls from winning another championship.

Had Cleveland held onto Laimbeer, it's possible that the Pistons wouldn't have been nearly as dominant and they might have been able to win a championship decades before LeBron carried them to one.