Detroit Pistons: Why Ben Wallace is a Hall of Famer

Detroit Pistons Ben Wallace. (Photo by Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Ben Wallace. (Photo by Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The answer should feel obvious; Detroit Pistons’ great Ben Wallace deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

The 2004 Detroit Pistons shocked the world when they brought home the third Larry O’Brien trophy in the franchise’s history. Their roster was viewed as a rag tag bunch. Very good players who meshed together well, but a squad that probably didn’t feature a Hall of Famer, and they beat a team that started 4 future first ballot Hall of Fame players.

Ben Wallace was the most unlikely underdog on a team full of them. Listed at 6’9″ 240 lbs., Wallace was brought into the league as an undrafted free agent by the Washington Bullets out of Virginia Union University.

He was always undersized as a PF/C and came up in an era where those positions set up on the block and used their size to their advantage.

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He came to the Pistons along with Chucky Atkins from Orlando as compensation in the Grant Hill sign and trade. Wallace was coming off a solid season with the Magic averaging 4.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, almost 1 steal in 24 minutes per game.

The trade was considered one sided in favor of Orlando, but Ben was a young, hungry, hard working player who was starting to show promise the more playing time he got.

As soon as he put the Pistons jersey on in the 2000-01 season he proved his worth. With substantially increased playing time Wallace showed that he wasn’t just a worthy starter in the league. He was a defensive stopper who could change the outcomes of games with his rebounding and blocking ability.

His first season with the Pistons he finished with averages of 6.4 points, 13.2 rebounds (2nd in league), 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2.3 blocks.

His next five years in Detroit took him to legendary status not only with the Pistons franchise, but the league as well.

Being an avid Pistons fan I’ve wanted the ’04 team to get more love than they do nationally. All the starters from that era are now retired which leaves you to think of whether any of them are Hall of Fame worthy. Ben Wallace is the most difficult to judge because his career numbers don’t match up to other enshrined members.

When Wallace’s career ended I did not think he was a Hall of Fame player. He was an overachiever who had a very good career for a 6 year stretch. Then I looked at Wallace’s career from 2000-06 and realized that those 6 seasons should qualify him for the Hall of Fame.

I’ve mentioned his first season as a Piston. Here are his next five in Detroit per Basketball Reference:

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7.6 points, 13 rebounds (led league), 1.4 assists, 1.7 steals, 3.5 blocks (led league), in 36.5 minutes per game. He was named to All Defensive First Team, All NBA Third Team, while being awarded Defensive Player of the Year.

The Pistons won 50 games and the Central Division.


6.9 points, 15.4 rebounds (led league), 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals, and 3.2 blocks (2nd in league). He was named to the Eastern Conference All Star Team, All Defensive First Team, All NBA Second Team, while being Defensive Player of the Year for a 2nd straight season.

The Pistons again won the Central Division and lost in the Eastern Conference Finals.


9.5 points, 12.4 rebounds (2nd in league), 1.7 assists, 1.8 steals, and 3 blocks (2nd in league). He was named to the Eastern Conference All Star Team, All Defensive First Team, and All NBA Second Team.

The Pistons beat the Lakers in 5 games to win the NBA Championship.


9.7 points, 12.2 rebounds (3rd in league), 1.7 assists, 1.4 steals, and 2.4 blocks (2nd in league). Once again he was named to the Eastern Conference All Star Team, All Defensive First Team, All NBA Third Team, while winning Defensive Player of the Year for the 3rd time.

The Pistons lost in 7 games to the San Antonio Spurs for the NBA Championship.


7.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.8 steals, and 2.2 blocks. He was named to the Eastern Conference All Star Team, All Defensive First Team, All NBA Second Team, and his 4th Defensive Player of the Year Award.

The Pistons won 64 games and lost to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

After the 2006 season Wallace signed with the Chicago Bulls as a free agent. Although his career extended to 2012, the final three of those reunited with the Pistons, Wallace was never able to recreate the success he experienced in Detroit from 2000-2006.

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He finished his career with averages of 5.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2 blocks per game. The numbers are not exceptional nor Hall of Fame worthy when looking at Wallace’s overall career.

His 6 prime seasons in Detroit change that narrative. He made the All Star Team 4 times. Was All Defensive First Team 5 times.

Was either All NBA Second Team or Third Team 5 times. Won Defensive Player of the Year 4 times. Won an NBA Championship having to play against one of the greatest centers of all time in Shaquille O’Neal. If Wallace would have retired after 2006 he would probably be an early ballot Hall of Famer.

Wallace’s game was compared to former Piston great Dennis Rodman. They definitely have their similarities as both were defensive stoppers and rebound machines, but Rodman was an athletic guy that could guard smaller wing players and shut them down. Ben Wallace would shut down the paint.

The two are a wash when it comes to points, Rodman has higher rebound numbers, and Wallace has larger steal and block numbers. Point being they were two anomalies in a game where offensive numbers are lauded and defensive stats are often ignored.

If Rodman is in then Wallace should be in. That is a statement I didn’t want to make because it felt obvious. Then looking back at Wallace’s performance from 2000-2006 and the way he was able to impact games without needing to score points makes it hard to deny his worthiness.

Without Ben Wallace, the 2000’s Pistons wouldn’t have been as successful as they were. Just like the Pistons and Bulls wouldn’t have been the teams they were without Rodman.

Ben Wallace’s dominance on the defensive front set the tone for the rest of the team. He started fast breaks, came up with huge blocks and steals when the team needed it, and did it all with class.

He has obviously not made it in his first years of eligibility. If he does not make it at any point he should be considered one of the biggest snubs in the museum’s history.

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