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Chauncey Billups was way better than all 16 players traded for him

Chauncey Billups bounced around the NBA before establishing himself as an All-Star guard during an illustrious 17-year career. All of those teams that traded him should be kicking themselves.

Billups Chart

Chauncey Billups was not particularly productive early in his career. The same could be said for any number of high draft picks, some of whom go on to illustrious careers.

But the difference between Billups and the rest is that the Coloradan got moved around like a marble on a ferry deck. He was in his third uniform by the start of his second season and claimed his fifth team jersey at the end of his fifth season. It was only then that he found a home and, quickly enough, stardom.

Along the way, Billups was traded for a lot of players. Only one is a fellow Hall of Fame candidate, and Billups was better than them all in the end.

In this chart, I included every player who went to Billups' old team in a trade. Billups was involved in a number of multi-player, multi-team deal -- he was not really traded for Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler so much as he was included in the Carmelo Anthony deal. But alas, it's on paper, so we're including it.

Billups' first trade in 1998 saw the Celtics land Kenny Anderson, Popeye Jones and Zan Tabak. (Zan Tabak!) The Raptors traded him a few months later in a multi-team deal, eventually landing Jonathan Bender and Morris Peterson with the picks received. The Magic made what seemed like a brilliant deal for an injured Billups in 2000, giving up only Tariq Abdul-Wahad and Chris Gatling. But before Billups could suit up for Orlando, the Magic let him flee in free agency.

But without question the most devastating Billups trade felled the Pistons to end their brilliant run in the mid-2000s. The Pistons shipped him out for Allen Iverson. The Answer fell apart immediately and tumbled out of the league. Billups made two more All-Star teams and an All-NBA team. Detroit spent their cap savings on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.

The biggest lesson from this chart and Billups' 17-year career: you can give up on a highly-touted prospect too early. Just ask the Celtics, Raptors, Nuggets, Magic and Timberwolves.


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