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The Best Players Ever to be Traded Midseason

Posted by Neil Paine on February 22, 2011

Well, it's (quasi) official now: Carmelo Anthony is a member of the New York Knicks.

Finally, we can put aside the trade speculation and ask the really important questions about the deal. No, I'm not talking about how this shifts the balance of power in the East, or if 'Melo and Amare Stoudemire can coexist in the Big Apple... I'm talking about where Carmelo ranks among all-time players who were traded in the middle of the season.

To help answer this question, I calculated pro-rated (per-82 team games) Win Share totals for each player involved in a midseason trade since 1952. To capture roughly how good a player was during the season of the trade, I computed a weighted average of his WS/82 from the trade season (year "Y") and the previous 2 seasons ("Y-1", "Y-2"), using the same weights as in our Simple Projection System:

3yr Weighted Avg = 0.6 * WS82_Y + 0.3 * WS82_Y-1 + 0.1 * WS82_Y-2

I should also note that a trade was considered "midseason" if it came between the opening day of the season and the last day of the regular-season.

According to this setup, here are the top 100 players to be traded midseason (some players may be listed multiple times if traded more than once in the same season):

Rank Year Lg Date Player From To WS/82 WS/82-1 WS/82-2 3yrWeighted
1 1965 NBA 1/15/1965 Wilt Chamberlain SFW PHI 15.5 25.6 21.5 19.1
2 2009 NBA 11/3/2008 Chauncey Billups DET DEN 10.1 13.5 11.4 11.3
3 1977 NBA 12/9/1976 Bob McAdoo BUF NYK 9.6 12.3 17.8 11.2
4 1966 NBA 11/2/1965 Walt Bellamy BAL NYK 9.8 12.4 14.7 11.0
5 1972 NBA 10/18/1971 Archie Clark PHI BAL 11.0 11.4 8.1 10.8
6 1969 NBA 12/19/1968 Walt Bellamy NYK DET 10.4 11.1 8.9 10.4
7 2003 NBA 2/20/2003 Gary Payton SEA MIL 9.1 12.6 10.8 10.3
8 1978 NBA 12/13/1977 Adrian Dantley IND LAL 12.2 9.8 0.0 10.2
9 1959 NBA 2/13/1959 George Yardley DET SYR 7.7 14.0 11.4 10.0
10 1999 NBA 3/10/1999 Eddie Jones LAL CHH 9.8 10.1 9.6 9.9
11 1995 NBA 2/14/1995 Clyde Drexler POR HOU 11.7 6.8 6.0 9.7
12 2003 NBA 2/20/2003 Ray Allen MIL SEA 9.1 8.9 13.7 9.5
13 2008 NBA 2/6/2008 Shawn Marion PHO MIA 7.4 12.0 14.6 9.5
14 2001 NBA 2/22/2001 Dikembe Mutombo ATL PHI 8.1 9.9 12.9 9.2
15 2004 NBA 1/5/2004 Stephon Marbury PHO NYK 9.1 9.6 7.1 9.0
16 1972 NBA 3/14/1972 Paul Silas PHO BOS 11.0 6.7 3.3 9.0
17 1994 NBA 2/24/1994 Dominique Wilkins ATL LAC 8.4 10.5 5.1 8.7
18 1988 NBA 2/25/1988 Larry Nance PHO CLE 8.0 10.2 8.4 8.7
19 1970 NBA 10/25/1969 Jerry Lucas CIN SFW 7.9 9.5 10.1 8.6
20 2004 NBA 12/1/2003 Donyell Marshall CHI TOR 10.4 6.0 5.0 8.6
Rank Year Lg Date Player From To WS/82 WS/82-1 WS/82-2 3yrWeighted
21 2004 NBA 2/9/2004 Shareef Abdur-Rahim ATL POR 8.1 9.8 7.2 8.5
22 2011 NBA 2/21/2011 Chauncey Billups DEN NYK 7.8 9.5 10.1 8.5
23 2008 NBA 2/1/2008 Pau Gasol MEM LAL 8.4 6.9 12.0 8.3
24 2006 NBA 1/25/2006 Peja Stojakovic SAC IND 8.0 7.3 13.5 8.3
25 1989 NBA 2/15/1989 Adrian Dantley DET DAL 7.4 9.4 10.3 8.3
26 1970 NBA 11/27/1969 Happy Hairston DET LAL 8.8 7.0 6.5 8.0
27 2005 NBA 12/17/2004 Vince Carter TOR NJN 9.4 6.0 4.2 7.8
28 2007 NBA 12/19/2006 Allen Iverson PHI DEN 6.2 10.6 9.0 7.8
29 1979 NBA 2/12/1979 Bob McAdoo NYK BOS 5.8 10.9 9.6 7.7
30 1974 NBA 10/30/1973 Connie Hawkins PHO LAL 7.1 7.5 9.6 7.5
31 1995 NBA 11/7/1994 Steve Smith MIA ATL 7.8 8.1 3.5 7.4
32 1996 NBA 1/19/1996 Kenny Anderson NJN CHH 7.7 6.8 7.5 7.4
33 1964 NBA 10/18/1963 Richie Guerin NYK STL 6.4 7.4 12.4 7.3
34 2008 NBA 2/19/2008 Jason Kidd NJN DAL 5.9 9.3 10.1 7.3
35 1976 NBA 10/24/1975 Spencer Haywood SEA NYK 6.8 7.3 9.7 7.3
36 1980 NBA 2/4/1980 Bob Lanier DET MIL 7.4 5.9 10.1 7.3
37 2004 NBA 2/19/2004 Rasheed Wallace ATL DET 6.2 8.5 9.7 7.2
2004 NBA 2/9/2004 Rasheed Wallace POR ATL 6.2 8.5 9.7 7.2
38 1989 NBA 2/23/1989 Danny Ainge BOS SAC 6.7 8.6 6.7 7.2
39 1994 NBA 2/24/1994 Jeff Hornacek PHI UTA 6.9 6.3 11.6 7.2
Rank Year Lg Date Player From To WS/82 WS/82-1 WS/82-2 3yrWeighted
40 1999 NBA 3/11/1999 Stephon Marbury MIN NJN 8.7 5.3 3.7 7.2
41 1978 NBA 11/23/1977 John Shumate BUF DET 7.7 6.3 6.5 7.2
42 1993 NBA 2/22/1993 Sam Perkins LAL SEA 6.9 7.4 8.0 7.2
43 2006 NBA 1/26/2006 Wally Szczerbiak MIN BOS 8.0 7.3 1.6 7.1
44 1991 NBA 2/15/1991 Ricky Pierce MIL SEA 7.9 5.8 6.7 7.1
45 1970 NBA 2/1/1970 Walt Bellamy DET ATL 4.9 10.4 11.1 7.1
46 1995 NBA 2/14/1995 Otis Thorpe HOU POR 5.6 9.8 6.0 6.9
47 2011 NBA 12/18/2010 Jason Richardson PHO ORL 7.1 6.6 5.8 6.8
48 2010 NBA 2/17/2010 Antawn Jamison WAS CLE 5.8 8.1 9.2 6.8
49 1977 NBA 10/24/1976 Moses Malone BUF HOU 8.7 1.8 10.0 6.8
50 2010 NBA 2/18/2010 Carl Landry HOU SAC 7.7 5.9 3.7 6.8
51 1998 NBA 2/18/1998 Kenny Anderson TOR BOS 3.7 12.4 7.7 6.7
1998 NBA 2/13/1998 Kenny Anderson POR TOR 3.7 12.4 7.7 6.7
52 1990 NBA 2/21/1990 Maurice Cheeks SAS NYK 7.1 5.3 8.3 6.7
53 2011 NBA 2/21/2011 Carmelo Anthony DEN NYK 6.3 7.9 5.0 6.6
54 1972 NBA 11/9/1971 Norm Van Lier CIN CHI 7.7 6.0 2.1 6.6
55 2005 NBA 2/24/2005 Gary Payton BOS ATL 5.4 8.1 9.1 6.6
56 2009 NBA 2/13/2009 Shawn Marion MIA TOR 5.2 7.4 12.0 6.5
57 2010 NBA 2/16/2010 Marcus Camby LAC POR 6.8 5.2 8.5 6.5
58 1972 NBA 3/14/1972 Charlie Scott BOS PHO 7.3 7.0 0.0 6.5
Rank Year Lg Date Player From To WS/82 WS/82-1 WS/82-2 3yrWeighted
59 2002 NBA 2/21/2002 Raef LaFrentz DEN DAL 6.4 6.8 5.9 6.4
60 1988 NBA 1/16/1988 Mike Gminski NJN PHI 6.5 5.4 9.2 6.4
61 1988 NBA 12/12/1987 Sleepy Floyd GSW HOU 4.4 10.0 7.5 6.4
62 2002 NBA 2/19/2002 Brad Miller CHI IND 8.3 3.4 3.8 6.4
63 1973 NBA 11/2/1972 Bill Bridges PHI LAL 6.7 6.5 3.9 6.4
64 2004 NBA 2/15/2004 Keith Van Horn NYK MIL 6.3 6.5 6.3 6.4
65 2002 NBA 2/19/2002 Jalen Rose IND CHI 5.7 7.3 7.3 6.3
66 1999 NBA 3/10/1999 Elden Campbell LAL CHH 7.0 4.7 7.0 6.3
67 2011 NBA 2/21/2011 Danilo Gallinari NYK DEN 7.5 5.6 1.0 6.3
68 2010 NBA 2/18/2010 John Salmons CHI MIL 7.1 5.6 3.7 6.3
69 1997 NBA 2/20/1997 Mark Jackson DEN IND 6.1 7.2 4.5 6.3
70 2011 NBA 2/21/2011 Raymond Felton NYK DEN 6.4 6.5 4.3 6.2
71 1983 NBA 12/15/1982 World B. Free GSW CLE 5.7 6.9 7.4 6.2
72 1989 NBA 2/15/1989 Mark Aguirre DAL DET 4.5 8.8 8.9 6.2
73 1982 NBA 12/23/1981 Mike Mitchell CLE SAS 5.9 6.0 8.3 6.2
74 2001 NBA 2/22/2001 Mark Jackson TOR NYK 5.9 6.7 6.3 6.2
75 1995 NBA 11/7/1994 Grant Long MIA ATL 6.6 5.1 6.5 6.1
76 2007 NBA 12/19/2006 Andre Miller DEN PHI 5.9 6.2 7.0 6.1
77 1999 NBA 3/10/1999 Glen Rice CHH LAL 3.6 9.3 10.8 6.1
78 1996 NBA 2/22/1996 Christian Laettner MIN ATL 6.2 6.2 4.1 6.0
Rank Year Lg Date Player From To WS/82 WS/82-1 WS/82-2 3yrWeighted
79 2009 NBA 12/10/2008 Jason Richardson CHA PHO 5.8 7.4 3.0 6.0
80 1968 NBA 2/1/1968 Happy Hairston CIN DET 6.5 5.2 5.5 6.0
81 2009 NBA 11/3/2008 Antonio McDyess DET DEN 5.6 6.7 6.0 6.0
82 1996 NBA 2/22/1996 Tim Hardaway GSW MIA 7.3 5.1 0.0 5.9
83 1977 NBA 1/20/1977 Truck Robinson WSB ATL 7.3 4.3 2.7 5.9
84 2009 NBA 11/3/2008 Allen Iverson DEN DET 2.9 11.6 6.2 5.8
85 1995 NBA 11/7/1994 Kevin Willis ATL MIA 3.6 10.2 6.0 5.8
86 1989 NBA 2/20/1989 Wayman Tisdale IND SAC 5.9 5.7 5.6 5.8
87 1980 NBA 2/15/1980 Rich Kelley NJN PHO 4.3 8.6 6.4 5.8
88 1990 NBA 11/16/1989 Ron Harper CLE LAC 3.9 10.2 3.5 5.8
89 1965 NBA 1/15/1965 Paul Neumann PHI SFW 6.6 4.4 4.7 5.8
90 2011 NBA 12/18/2010 Rashard Lewis ORL WAS 4.8 6.5 9.5 5.8
91 1999 NBA 3/11/1999 Terrell Brandon MIL MIN 5.2 5.1 10.8 5.7
92 1979 NBA 1/12/1979 Truck Robinson NOJ PHO 5.1 6.5 7.3 5.7
93 1969 NBA 11/23/1968 Flynn Robinson CHI MIL 6.7 4.9 2.2 5.7
94 1972 NBA 11/19/1971 Bill Bridges ATL PHI 6.5 3.9 6.6 5.7
95 2011 NBA 12/18/2010 Vince Carter ORL PHO 4.5 7.4 7.5 5.7
96 2008 NBA 2/19/2008 Devin Harris DAL NJN 5.6 6.5 3.7 5.7
97 1992 NBA 11/25/1991 Tyrone Corbin MIN UTA 5.6 5.4 6.8 5.7
98 2001 NBA 2/22/2001 Theo Ratliff PHI ATL 5.2 5.6 8.9 5.7
99 1980 NBA 2/1/1980 Alex English IND DEN 5.3 7.0 4.0 5.6
100 2005 NBA 1/10/2005 Cuttino Mobley ORL SAC 4.4 7.6 6.9 5.6

So there you have it -- according to Win Shares at least, Carmelo Anthony is playing the 53rd-best ball of anyone when they were involved in a midseason trade. Also, new Nuggets Gallinari & Felton crack the list slightly below Anthony.

But the biggest shocker: Chauncey Billups ranks 22nd, well ahead of everyone involved in the swap. If Win Shares is correct, then the Knicks got the best player in the trade all right... and that player is Billups, not Anthony.

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37 Responses to “The Best Players Ever to be Traded Midseason”

  1. Robert Roth Says:

    I know it was unintedntional but unless I missed it entirely Dave DeBusschere was left off the list. In terms of impact on the new team (which wasn't the criteria) he very probably should have been near the top. Maybe as high as third.

  2. Mike Goodman Says:

    Oscar (#2) wasn't traded midseason. Royals' season ended Mar.21, and he was traded a month later.

    "... a trade was considered "midseason" if it came between the opening day of the season and the last day of the Finals."

    Oh, I see. Well, I also see a bunch of Apr-June trades that were nowhere near midseason.
    Can't you change this to "... last day of the regular season"? Nobody gets traded who is in the playoffs, do they?

    In fact, hasn't there always been a 'trading deadline'?

  3. Neil Paine Says:

    #2 - OK, I updated it to only include trades during the regular season.

    #1 - DeBusschere actually missed the top 100; his 5.1 weighted WS/82 wasn't quite enough to crack the list.

  4. P Middy Says:

    I keep wanting to hate on Chanucey (cuz he was a Piston), figuring out a way to make Felton to Chauncey a downgrade . . . but it's just not. Melo > Gallo. Keeping Landry. This is a pretty good deal.

  5. AYC Says:

    No surprise Wilt is at the top. As for Chauncey, why do WS rate him so highly? Never mind, we all know why....

  6. Greyberger Says:

    We do?

  7. AYC Says:

    Sure we do. A high rate of threes and FTA, shot with high accuracy. More than than makes up for the atrocious FG%. Since FT rate matters so much in advanced stats, I would love to see it on the leaders page.

  8. Neil Paine Says:

    You're seriously going to argue about this again?

  9. TH Says:

    Good post.

    Note that Billups is in a clear downtrend, whereas Gallo and Felton are in a clear uptrend.

    Based on this seasons numbers, Billups really doesn't look as good.

  10. AYC Says:

    Nah, I'm done arguing about it. I wasn't being sarcastic about wanting to see FT rates listed; in advanced stats, your shooting rates are just as important as your accuracy, if not more so.

  11. Neil Paine Says:

    I'll file a suggestion w/ Justin.

  12. AYC Says:

    Thanks. I think you guys do a great job. I just like playing devil's advocate....

  13. MCT Says:

    "In fact, hasn't there always been a 'trading deadline'?"

    There has been one since very early in the NBA's existence, at least, if not all the way back to the beginning. Baseball has had a trade deadline since the 1920s, and the NBA likely just followed MLB's example. There was a discussion about this on the APBR Board a while back:

    http://www.apbr.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2762

    I believe there is one typo in the list at the link; 1986 should be February 15, the same as other years in that era, not February 25. With the exception of the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, it looks like the deadline has never been any later than February.

    There is one deal on the list above that probably doesn't belong, which is the 3/14/72 trade involving Charlie Scott and Paul Silas. This wasn't really a trade in the conventional sense. Scott jumped from the ABA with the season in progress and wanted to sign with the Suns, but Phoenix had to make a deal with Boston because the Celtics owned Scott's draft rights. Red Auerbach had shrewdly taken him in the 7th round of the 1970 draft, after he had already signed with the ABA, figuring that the Celtics weren't likely to get a player of much value with the pick, and that Scott's rights could be a useful asset if he was ever in position to switch leagues in the future. (Think of it as the equivalent of a modern team selecting a promising player from overseas with a late second-round pick, knowing that the player won't be coming over right away, and might never come over at all.) Other teams had similarly used late-round picks on ABA players, but after seeing what Boston did, they began drafting ABA players much higher -- in the 1972 draft, for example, Julius Erving and Ralph Simpson were both eligible, and both were taken late in the first round.

    Silas didn't actually go to Boston during the 1971-72 season; the deal was Scott's rights for "future considerations", and Silas wasn't sent over to complete the trade until September. So Silas definitely doesn't belong on this list. I guess Scott is debateable.

  14. Chuck Says:

    Lies. Damn lies. And statistics!

  15. AHL Says:

    Shouldn't the weights be 0.6, 0.3, 0.1?

    I say this because I still can't believe Billups is #2 behind Wilt.

  16. Sean Says:

    The Suns have traded away a lot of players high on this list:

    Shawn Marion (#13) - for Shaq
    Stephon Marbury (#15) - for cap relief to sign Nash
    Paul Silas (#16) - don't know
    Larry Nance (#18) - for KJ
    Connie Hawkins (#30) - don't know
    Jason Richardson (#47) - for Gortat, Pietrus, cap relief (I mean Vince Carter)

  17. Anon Says:

    With apologies to Mr. Pelton, who wrote a nice article about the "Melo Effect", the Knicks picked up one heck of an overrated player.

    WS, SPM, APM - by a bunch of metrics Melo was arguably not even the best player on his own team. But with the way the media goes about this you'd think the Knicks traded for LeBron James-lite. And by the way, who's gonna play defense on that team he joined?

  18. Neil Paine Says:

    #15 - Thanks, good catch. The data are correct, the typo was only in the post.

  19. Neil Paine Says:

    #17 - I agree 100% with Kevin's assessment of Anthony, though:

    "I'm confident that Anthony is not one of the 10 best players in the league because of his defensive deficiencies. I'm also certain that the value of his ability to create shots for himself (as reflected, in part, in his teammates' scoring efficiency) means that he is an elite offensive player and an above-average player overall. There's an important gulf between those two extreme positions, and where Anthony really belongs will determine the ultimate success or failure of the Knicks."

  20. Greyberger Says:

    Re: #5-12 I was just trying to bait you, AYC. I know your beef =)

    Re #17, how you want to rate Anthony is up to you. I do think it's a little absurd how often I'm hearing the "in the top N of players" argument.

    Let's say Melo is in the top ten, fifteen, twenty or what have you. What about fit? What about Melo getting the last max contract under this CBA, to go with the just-signed Stoudemire? Those contracts are going to look massive compared to next season's deals (when there is a next season).

    With that said, I think the trade improves the Knicks on the court, for now. The two big question marks are defense - how low can it go? - and Billups, who might be disgruntled or lost in the D'antoni scheme.

  21. Jason J Says:

    We know what Carmelo does. We know what Amare does. Those things aren't changing. They should be fine offensively if Fields and Billups can consistently space the floor. The issue is going to be team defense and if they can find a great backline defender / rebounder on the cheap.

    Not sure how Chauncey will function in the SSOL offense. Brown and Saunders were pretty controlling and ran a ton of sets, but Karl didn't, and Billups had success with Denver as well. His age may be a problem too as Felton's onball defense was important, and I don't think Billups has the legs to put pressure d in his game anymore.

  22. Neil Paine Says:

    For what it's worth, Billups was still getting it done defensively in Denver by on/off DRtg (1.5 pts/100 better when he was on the court), while Felton was horrible by on/off (Knick D was 8.5 pts of DRtg worse when he was in the game). And take it with an even bigger grain of salt, but counterpart PER tells the same story -- Billups is still average defensively at worst, while Felton was a liability.

  23. Greyberger Says:

    Yeah, but 'on court' is still allowing 109 per hundo possessions, so if Billups was helping the Nuggets defense it wasn't by much.

    For what it's worth RAPM sees most of Billups value on the offensive end.

    I'm never sure how to read counterpart PER - for example I worry it might be reflective of the Knicks' weakness defending that position as a team rather than Felton's defense in a vacuum.

  24. AYC Says:

    Who baited whom, Greyberger?

    Melo is a high volume shooter who doesn't play D, and doesn't pass. Congrats to NY for getting a less athletic version of Nique. As a Celtics fan, I'm not terribly worried... until they get Chris Paul, and some roleplayers who can defend, that is.

  25. Jason J Says:

    Interesting data, Neil. I'd honestly have thought Ray's pressure d was just about the only good factor for the Knicks. Eye test fails again.

  26. Anon Says:

    Greyberger,

    Do you think he's a top ten player? Just can't put him into that category, at least with the box-score and +/- data available (and Kevin's analysis). Above-average? Sure. Elite offensively? At times, but this man has shot his team out of more games for every time he puts up 50 and whips a no-look pass to Nene for the slam (they have played the crap of that highlight). And offense wasn't even the Knicks issue.

    Of course NY wants to build for the future, but they better grab some players who can at least guard their own shadow. Unless they want to become the D'Antoni Pheonix Suns of the East.

  27. Neil Paine Says:

    #25 - Well, and Greyberger is right, the counterpart stats need to be taken with a boulder of salt. All it really means is that Knicks weren't great at defending opposing PGs when Felton was in the game. How much of that is directly Felton's fault and how much was due to scheme, cross-matching, and a host of other factors is debatable.

    I keep forgetting there's a site tracking in-season RAPM. Need to plug this, if just to remember it:

    http://stats-for-the-nba.appspot.com/

  28. Alex Says:

    That was a terrible analysis! Donyell Marshall is number 20, Eddie Jones is number 10, old-ass Gary Payton number 7! This is what you get when you try to reduce the game to numbers. Unintelligent observations. There are so many more variables that go into it that just "win shares." That stat is apparently trying to be the ultimate expression of a player's contribution to a team, yet is just another faulty equation. Say what you will about Melo, this list is still brimming with statistic anomalies.

  29. huevonkiller Says:

    #27

    Well all defensive stats can be affected by scheme that's not really the problem.

    I'll take defensive rating with a larger grain of salt. Counterpart per for non-tweeners is quite useful.

    Over a large sample size it can be just fine, think of it like adjusted plus-minus, which is even goofier in my opinion.

  30. Joe R Says:

    My friend and I joked earlier how the Knicks are now the most exciting 43-39 team ever. Though of course Chris Paul can tip the scales from pretender to contender.

    I ask, though, could the Knicks even actually afford to sign both?

  31. Greyberger Says:

    Re #30, it's hard to say since it'll be a new CBA. Three max contracts is pushing it under the current one, they'll have to get creative to get Chris Paul in the mix. One thing's for sure, contracts like Stoudemire's and Anthony are definitely going to represent a larger percent of the cap (whatever form that cap takes).

    Although everybody should know by now what a crippling thing it is to have a dead-weight max contract, it sometimes seems like GMs can't help themselves. Orlando and Atlanta are playoff clubs, hopefully better managed than the bottom of the league. But I can't help but second-guess moves like trading for Arenas and his contract, or signing Joe Johnson to a new one that might end up being 40% of your total player salary.

  32. Lig Lury Says:

    Following the latest news:
    Where would Deron Williams rate on this list?

  33. Neil Paine Says:

    Williams is on pace for 9.9 WS/82 team games this year. Last year he had 10.3; the year before that, 8.4. So his 3-year weighted average would be 0.6*9.9 + 0.3*10.3 + 0.1*8.4 = 9.9, which ties him for 10th on the list.

  34. AYC Says:

    Hilarious... With zero hype or speculation, the Nets just traded for a much better player than the Knicks did.

  35. Stu B Says:

    How could such a list not include Earl Monroe?

  36. BSK Says:

    Re: Melo

    A lot of the conversation around him talks about him being the best pure scorer. What does that even mean? If the argument is that he is the best player at putting the ball in the basket, does anyone REALLY believe that? If the argument is that he's the best at being ONLY a scorer... I suppose that's possible. But is that really a good thing?

  37. Ian Says:

    As a Portland fan, I can pretty happily trumpet that I feel that Gerald Wallace would make this list.