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The 20 greatest undrafted NBA players

1. BEN WALLACE 6-time All-Defense, 5-time All-NBA, 4-time

1. BEN WALLACE
6-time All-Defense, 5-time All-NBA, 4-time All-Star
Wallace, a 6-9 center, went undrafted out of Virginia Union before signing a deal with Washington. He was dealt to the Magic prior to his fourth season, and was a full-time starter in the league for the next 12 seasons. Wallace, who is in his 16th season now in Detroit, has led the league in rebounds twice, averaged at least 10 rebounds per game seven consecutive seasons, averaged at least three blocks per game three times, and won an NBA title with the Pistons in 2004.
Photo Credit: AP

Undrafted players in the NFL are easy to come by. In fact, two weeks ago, the NFL released a video of the 10 best active undrafted NFL players. All those listed were household names: London Fletcher, Brian Waters, James Harrison, Antonio Gates, Fred Jackson, Victor Cruz, Arian Foster, Tony Romo, Cullen Jenkins and Wes Welker.

That's not the case in the NBA. Undrafted players have only accounted for a handful of All-Star appearances, five All-NBA appearances and 17 All-Defense selections.

I reviewed the best undrafted players in league history and came up with a list of the top 20. In ranking the players, I took into account career totals (points, rebounds, assists and PER), career averages (in the same categories), age (younger players received a slight boost) and awards (All-Star games, All-NBA teams, All-Defense teams, and individual awards including Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player and Sixth Man of the Year).

All told, unlike in the NFL, it's a longshot that anybody on the list (as of today) would make the Hall of Fame. The top player, Ben Wallace, has had a great career, but he was never the league's dominant center. And active players in their prime or yet to reach their prime, including Jose Calderon, Udonis Haslem, Wesley Matthews and Anthony Morrow, would need some sort of Space Jam-esque occurrence to propel them into the discussion.

Anyway, the top 20:

1. Ben Wallace
2. Bruce Bowen
3. Darrell Armstrong
4. Brad Miller
5. John Starks
6. David Wesley
7. Jose Calderon
8. Avery Johnson
9. Udonis Haslem
10. Bo Outlaw
11. Raja Bell
12. Mike James
13. Wesley Matthews
14. Chucky Atkins
15. Andres Nocioni
16. Anthony Morrow
17. Earl Boykins
18. Chuck Hayes
19. Chris Andersen
20. Troy Hudson

(You can click here for career information and capsules on each player.)

The rankings account for what the players have done so far, though age is considered. So for example, Wesley Matthews' averages suggest he be ranked higher, but his totals suggest he should be toward the bottom of this list, so for now, you average that out and wind up No. 13. He, Calderon and Morrow are all likely to move up by the end of their career.

As for Jeremy Lin, the inspiration beyond this list, it's too early to consider where he should be ranked. But by the end of the season, if Lin wins Most Improved Player and keeps up his current numbers, I'd be inclined to already drop him in at No. 10, just ahead of Outlaw.

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