8 Players the Washington Wizards gave up on too soon

Washington Bullets, Washington Wizards, Chris Webber (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Washington Bullets, Washington Wizards, Chris Webber (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Pistons, Rasheed Wallace
Detroit Pistons, Rasheed Wallace (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

3. Rasheed Wallace, Power Forward

Washington sure knows how to draft ’em, but they just can’t seem to pinpoint which guys they should be holding onto. A high school and college phenom, Rasheed Wallace was drafted fourth overall by the Bullets in the 1995 NBA Draft. Thanks to a Chris Webber injury, Wallace started 51 games his rookie year and averaged 10.1 points in 27.5 minutes a game on his way to being named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

Unfortunately, he was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers that offseason in a deal for point guard Rod Strickland. The trade was seemingly mutually beneficial at first, as Strickland put together some impressive assist numbers in Washington and helped them reach the playoffs for the first time in eight years. Strickland was already 30, however, while Wallace was only 22 and brimming with potential.

Generational PF traded after just one season

The Bullets showed a lack of patience and an inability to look at the bigger picture by trading away a top five pick right after his rookie year. Wallace would become an integral part of the tough Jail Blazers teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s, with the big man leading the team in scoring during the 1999-2000 season during which they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in a seven-game Western Conference Final series that many view as one of the most poorly officiated of all-time.

Wallace was known for helping to revolutionize the power forward position as a stretch four that was able to hit shots on the outside and is widely regarded as one of the best and most influential power forwards of his generation. He also went on to become a four-time All-Star and served as the final piece of the Pistons championship puzzle when they acquired him during the 2004 season en route to that year’s NBA title.