The average career of an NBA player is only 4.8 years. This means that most players don’t even get the chance to have their career come crashing down on them, simply because they never really had a career in the first place while players who are lucky enough and talented enough to establish themselves as all-stars or solid rotation players often don’t see the end coming.
As a professional athlete, you are completely dependent on your own body, and the health of your body. There are too many stories of athletes losing their jobs because they were injury-prone. Sometimes it’s not just the injury that costs a player his job. The injury combined with another player stepping up in that absence often puts the team in a tough spot when the player is healthy again. A great example of that happened in Atlanta when Jeff Teague was injured and Dennis Schroeder stepped into the role. The Hawks were forced to part ways with Teague because they felt they had a better option in his replacement.
Another thing that can derail a career is being a specialty player. If you are able to do one single thing better than anyone, coaches and opponents will stop at nothing to stop whatever it is that you do so well. We all remember Mahmoud Abdul Rauf; he was the original Steph Curry, but ultimately he was forced into positions he was uncomfortable playing and his career sputtered.
With that said, let’s jump into the 15 current players who will have their careers come crashing down soon.
15. Chandler Parsons
Parsons had some good, even great seasons when he was paired with James Harden and Dwight Howard. During his final season in Houston, he reached career highs in points, rebounds, and assists. After that season, Parsons entered free agency wherein the Dallas Mavericks offered him $46 million for three years. The Rockets refused to match the offer, so Chandler landed in Dallas.
Since he signed with the Mavericks, his production has not been up to what he produced with the Rockets. He is now with the Memphis Grizzlies trying to stay healthy enough to be part of that team. The injury bug has seemed to hit Parsons over the past few seasons, and some wonder if he lost some enthusiasm for the grind since receiving the max contract from Dallas.
14. Mike Conley
During this past offseason, there was a moment when Mike Conley was the highest paid basketball player of all time. He has since been passed by several other players, but the fact remains he’s still among the highest. Conley has been a high quality point guard, especially on the defensive end of the floor, for years. What worries me about him now is that since he got paid, his game may begin to slide a bit — whether it’s from the pressure of expectations, or what I believe is more likely, the decline of his teammates.
Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are two aging big men. The supporting cast around those two and Conley is pretty much nonexistent. As Randolph and Gasol continue to fade, the expectations on Conley will increase and his talents will not be enough to carry a team single-handedly.
13. Joel Embiid
Embiid has been doomed from the start of his career. He missed the first two seasons of his career due to a variety of injuries, and this season, he has been on a strict 20 minute per game restriction. In those 20 minutes, he has shown some potential and even gives the Sixers hope that they may be on the right track, finally.
However, when you watch Joel play, he looks like a baby deer — very fragile and tender. If he is able to stay healthy, he could become a pretty good pro, but if we learned anything from the past, it is that seven-footers can’t stay healthy once injured — Yao Ming, Greg Oden, Andrew Bynum, the list goes on and on. Joel Embiid will likely be another name to put on that sad list.
12. Nick Young
“Swaggy P” has been living it up in Hollywood since 2013. He has played alongside Kobe Bryant, and he was there to see Kobe drop 50 in his final game. But now the Lakers are moving in a different direction, and they appear to be improving faster than many thought they could. It is no secret that Young and DeAngelo Russell are not the closest of pals anymore, and with Russell appearing to be the future in L.A. he may just want to rid the locker room of the old guard.
Once the Lakers decide to part ways with Young, he will have to try finding a job as a 31-year-old, notoriously immature, one-dimensional player. I hate to say it because Swaggy P is one of the more entertaining players, but the writing is on the wall and he will likely be seen at the end of a bench somewhere like Milwaukee soon.
11. Victor Oladipo
There really is nothing wrong with Oladipo’s game. It is more the circumstance that dictates the future of his career. In October, Victor signed a four-year extension with the OKC Thunder. The Thunder are of course Russell Westbrook’s team. For the Thunder to win a championship, which they vow is their goal, they will need more than Westbrook and Oladipo to provide offense.
The Thunder will be actively looking for other scoring options as the season progresses and during next year’s insane free agent class. When they are able to find better options, they will certainly go after them and Oladipo could find himself fighting for minutes before too long. Unfortunately, that might prove to be the beginning of the end for Oladipo, who may soon learn what it feels like to have a career come crashing down on him.