The NBA is a cutthroat league in which players need to be at the top of their game at all time or risk being benched for the next man up. This is especially true when players being to age because many fan bases start looking at future mock drafts to see who could be their teams next shining star. Having a franchise cornerstone at the point guard position is the most important thing an NBA general manager can attain because the point guard position is responsible for running the show and leading the team. It's very similar to the importance of NFL teams finding a franchise quarterback.
Some of the guys on this league use to be the face of their franchise, but fell to their demise due to injuries, ego, or just lack of production. Other guys on this list have never lived up to their potential and are thus running out of chances to hold a spot down in the NBA. Lastly, some of these guys are still good enough to keep playing in the NBA in backup roles, but are too prideful to take on such a task and would rather play overseas (a la Stephon Marbury and Aaron Brooks style). Whatever the reason, the players listed below are likely to be out of the league by next season. The list also provides predictions for which players will take over for them. It's unfortunate, but it's the circle of life that is the NBA.
16 Out: Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose may have one of the saddest stories in NBA history, yet it seems like so many people hate the guy. This former NBA MVP winner has never been able to stay healthy in his career so far and the laundry list of injuries he has suffered has clearly had a negative affect on his level of play. But Rose is still fighting and competing despite all of his adversity.
He is currently the starting point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers and if he can stay healthy, should be a reliable option for the Cavs in their playoff run. But let's be honest here, Rose is injury prone and his delicate body will not last this entire season. If/when that happens, Rose should bow out of the game gracefully as one of the best "what could have been" stories in NBA history.
15 Replaced By: Isaiah Thomas
This one is easy and logical. Isaiah Thomas is currently dealing with his own very serious injury issues (hip) that could potentially haunt his late career success, but at this point the medical experts do expect Thomas to return sometime after the All-Star break. This will be huge for the Cavaliers as they are lacking sufficient offensive firepower behind superstar LeBron James right now.
Thomas is a small, yet crafty point guard who was a finalist for the NBA MVP award just a season ago. Whenever he regains full-strength, he will be the starting point guard for the Cavaliers team. They will be fun to watch, but they will still be the underdogs against the Warriors, despite Thomas' elite scoring ability.
14 Out: Darren Collison
Okay, do I really think that Darren Collison will be out of the league next season? No. This one is a stretch because Collison is still young enough to serve several back up seasons in the NBA, but surely his starting job will be taken away by the end of this season. Collison fits the mold of a backup point guard perfectly given his propensity for scoring and ability to create his own shot, so the transition should not be any issue for him. But Collison will not take the demotion lightly and depending on how he handles it, he may be searching for a job this offseason.
While Collison has been anything but spectacular in his first season in Indiana, he has remained a solid contributor each night. Averaging 12 points and 7 assists per night is respectable, but the Pacers have to be wanting more out of their starting point guard spot. The one thing that might save Collison's job is the fact that the Pacers are still winning in the weak Eastern Conference and will likely make the playoffs. This will keep the Pacers from being able to draft their future starting point guard with a lottery pick.
13 Replaced By: Trevon Duval
Even if Indiana does make the playoffs this year, they should still look at drafting a point guard in the upcoming 2018 draft to upgrade the position. While the Pacers will not be selecting high enough to get the best point guard in the draft, Collin Sexton, they just might end up with the steal of the draft in Duke point guard Trevon Duval. Granted it is still early on in the NCAA season and Duval's draft stock could fluctuate drastically depending on his play, but this would be a great match for both sides.
Duval has great basketball instincts and his physical attributes are threw the roof for a freshman player. If he decides to come out early, the Pacers should not hesitate to draft him in the middle portion of the first round. He may take a couple seasons of development, but could be a perennial All-Star in the prime of his career. Bye-bye Collison, hello Duval!
12 Out: Tony Parker
Make no doubts about it, Tony Parker is one of the greatest point guards of his generation. He's earned 4 NBA Championships and 6 All-Star nominations in his career, but his 17 seasons in the NBA is taking its toll on his body. The 35-year-old Frenchman has dealt with multiple injuries the past few seasons, as well as declining production.
Although he still shows flashes of his former dominance, Parker has clearly lost the quick first step that always made him so dangerous. The Spurs have had quite a run in the 15 years, but their star players are all quickly aging out of the NBA. Tim Duncan retired first and next up is Parker and/or Ginobili. If this is Parker's final season, you can bet he will do everything possible to make one final run at another title.
11 Replaced by: Dejounte Murray
While San Antonio has had a long lasting relationship with backup veteran point guard, Patty Mills, the team drafted Dejounte Murray in the 2016 draft with the idea in mind that he will take over the reigns from Tony Parker when Parker retires. Murray struggled in his rookie season and failed to make much of an impact, but don't let that deter you from his bright future.
Murray is only 21 years old and has shown promising signs so far in the 2017-2018 season. Currently, he is averaging 8 points, 3 assists, and 6 rebounds per game. While those numbers aren't mind blowing, they are very impressive when you consider that he is only averaging about 20 minutes of playing time per game. This season belongs to Parker, but the future belongs to Murray.
10 Out: Mike James
Mike James and Tyler Ulis have split time as being the starting point guard of the Phoenix Suns ever since Eric Bledsoe's infamous "hair salon" tweet led to his trade to the Milwaukee Bucks. If you like underdog stories, then James should be your new favorite player because he has fought off years of adversity to finally reach the NBA at age 27.
In fact, James had to start his collegiate career at a small community college in Arizona before transferring to a small division 1 school. James never received many looks from the NBA until he recently started torching the competition overseas. Hopefully for James' sake he has done enough to earn a legitimate NBA contract with the Suns or any other team, but it's highly possible that he finds himself back in Europe or the G-league after this season.
9 Replaced By: Brandon Knight
For as desolate as the Suns roster looks right now, they actually might have their future starting point guard already in the mix. Brandon Knight is sadly out for the rest of this season after suffering an ACL injury just before training camp. Most Suns fans, and perhaps even many within the Suns organization, have lost hope in Knight ever returning to an All-Star caliber player, and deservedly so.
But at this point the Suns don't have many other options. If Knight can come back healthy next season and play well in the preseason, it's very likely that he becomes the Suns starting point guard in the 2017-2018 season. It's easy to forget that Knight was once viewed as one of the up-and-coming point guards in the NBA just a few years ago. If he can regain his health and confidence, he would be a major upgrade for the Phoenix Suns starting point guard position.
8 Out: Jerryd Bayless
Jerryd Bayless was a high school phenom in Arizona and appeared destined to become one of the leagues shining stars at the point-guard position. With his uber-athleticism and tenacious attacking style, Bayless fit the mold of the new school point-guard in the NBA. Unfortunately, injuries and poor-play have prevented him from ever becoming the star many experts believed he would be.
Now in his 10th NBA season, injuries continue to plague Bayless. He began this season as the starting point-guard for the Philadelphia 76'ers but suffered yet another minor-injury early in the season. Given his large contract and lack of production, look for the 76'ers to either trade Bayless or cut him to save some cap space. If they do the latter, it might be time for Bayless to start looking overseas for a late career revival.
7 Replaced By: Ben Simmons
This one is already taking place... When Jerryd Bayless went down with injury, Ben Simmons was waiting for his shot to takeover the offense in Philly and that is exactly what he has done. After sitting out his rookie season with an injury, Simmons has dominated early on in 2017.
What makes Simmons even more intriguing is his crazy size for the point guard position. At 6'10" tall, Simmons fits the Greek Freak mold of being a huge, yet fast point guard. Simmons is only 21 years old and has clearly joined Joel Embiid as the face of the 76er franchise. Another option here would be #1 pick Markelle Fultz, who will soon be joining the mix in the Philadelphia backcourt. He and Simmons will likely be interchangeable at the #1 and #2 guard spots, which will be terrifying for opposing defenses.
6 Out: Jeremy Lin
In 2011, the relatively unknown Jeremy Lin busted onto the scene as a New York Knick phenomena known as "Linsanity." Linsanity took over the NBA as Jeremy Lin was scoring at a record pace in his first several starts as an NBA point guard. The electricity that surrounded this former Harvard hooper was inescapable and it made Knicks game must watch TV for the remainder of that season.
Now, Lin is a veteran in the NBA and has continued to consistently produce in each stop he has made in the league. Lin recently signed with the Brooklyn Nets to help provide some veteran leadership in their backcourt, but sadly he suffered a season ending injury in the Nets first game. Because Linsanity has died down considerably, Lin might be able to make more money if he takes his name brand style of play overseas for the tail end of his career.
5 Replaced By: Collin Sexton
While the Nets currently have D'Angelo Russell as their starting guard, it's highly possible that they pair him with a more true style point guard and allow Russell to act more as a shooting guard. This is further evidenced by the pairing of Russell and Lin to start the season.
Regardless, it's clear the Nets need a true franchise cornerstone to handle the rock for them for the next decade plus and that is where Collin Sexton comes in. Sexton is currently a freshman at Alabama and is being coached there by former NBA point guard Avery Johnson. With Johnson as a mentor, you can expect that Sexton will enter the NBA next season with a solid understanding of the pro game and the expectations that surround a starting caliber point guard. Keep an eye on this kid in March Madness this year.
4 Out: Rajon Rondo
As one of the greatest true point guards of his generation, Rajon Rondo carries with him a lot of pride. That pride is what will eventually lead to his league exit next season as he will be unable to find another starting point guard job after the 2017-2018 season. If that happens, expect Rondo to pull a Marbury and leave for China. In China, Rondo could become a star again and millions of fans will continue to inflate his ego, as he desires.
It will be the NBA's loss too, however, as Rondo is a magician with the ball. His long arms and oversized hands allow him to complete passes that most point guards wouldn't even dare think about making. During his time with the Celtics, he helped orchestrate one of the better offensive systems of the past decade. While Rondo could certainly remain in the league as a backup for many more years, his attitude and ego will lead him to a bigger spotlight in China.
3 Replaced By: Allonzo Trier
With Jrue Holiday already on the roster, the Pelicans need a second guard that can be interchangeable with Holiday. A guard like Allonzo Trier would be a perfect match-up as both could bring the ball up the court and both would be threats to create their own shot. Given the Pelicans have focused their attention in dominating the frontcourt with big men Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, they need a true shooter to help space the floor.
Trier is not a natural point guard, but he is comfortable with the ball in his hands. As a serious three point threat, Trier would open up the floor for the twin towers down low and help provide more passing lanes. He would also create havoc in pick and roll situations in which defenders have to crowd him to not allow him to get a shot off, which would open up rolls to the basket for the Pelican big men.
2 Out: Jarrett Jack
At the ripe age of 34, Jarrett Jack somehow continues to receive starting point guard opportunities in the NBA. While Jack is no doubt a very dependable and talented player, his skillset leaves much to be desired as a starting caliber point guard. Jack doesn't do anything exceptionally well, but he plays a form of tough and smart basketball that is repeatable night in and night out.
But Jack isn't getting any younger. His age is certainly something teams will factor into contract negotiations as a free agent following the 2017-2018 season. It's possible that Jack could take a discount and play small minutes for a championship contender like Cleveland or Toronto, but much of it will depend on his production this season. My guess is that Jack gets traded to a contender at the trade deadline and then calls it a career after the season.
1 Replaced By: Frank Ntilikina
The New York Knicks drafted their future franchise point guard in last years NBA draft when they selected Frank Ntilikina with the 8th overall pick. Ntilikina is only 19 years old, but has been playing professionally since 2015 over in France. This Frenchman helped guide the U-16 and U-18 national French teams to gold medal finishes in their respective FIBA Championships, so it's clear the kid has some serious game.
At 6'5" tall, Ntilikina fits the mold of the new era point guard that has taken over the NBA in recent seasons. His length and speed will create mismatches that he can exploit to help generate passing lanes for his teammates. While Kristaps Porzingis will be the face of the franchise for the Knicks for years to come, Ntilikina will be a solid core piece as well. Leave it to New York to create an all-international core for their future of basketball in the Big Apple.