Falling Off A Cliff: 15 Aging NBA Stars Whose Play Will Decline Next Season

Essentially, the NBA is like any other league: except employees make a substantial amount of money. Once a worker - also known as a player - becomes unsuccessful or repetitive at their job, one of the NBA teams or affiliate teams will release them and cancel any contracts. People tend to forget that while athletes make unbelievable money, they are held to similar standards as any employee would be  - Burger King worker or lawyer. If the player is unsuccessful at their supposed occupation or fails to comply with company regulations, there will be issues with future endeavors.

There are many NBA players, though, who will leave the league soon because they are becoming too old for the league. Basketball players tend to play short careers, mostly, because they are less durable than NFL players. The league revolves around the youngest talent, the guys who can be producers for the longest amount of team, endless there is an absolute superstar of course (like LeBron James).

The players in this list will retire very soon. They are already showing signs of slowing down and, or, are looking like they will not remain themselves next season. Here are 15 Aging Stars That Will Start To Decline Next Season.

15 Deron Williams

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Deron Williams has been enjoying his ride with the Cavaliers this season. The Cavaliers will look to beat the Warriors in the NBA Finals, and he has actually contributed somewhat to their success. He averaged a solid 11 PPG and 5.6 APG this past regular season. The 11 year veteran, who is now 32, will probably decline next season. Williams, whether he remains a Cavalier or not, has been playing professional basketball longer than many of the league's current players. He has had a consistently strong work ethic, but I fear the younger and faster NBA prospects will dominate him all around. Deron once averaged 21.3 PPG and 9.7 APG in 2010 with the Utah Jazz, but those days are long and far over.

14 Jameer Nelson

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Jameer Nelson was once known as the guy who was a teammate to Dwight Howard on he Magic. He was a great guard for Dwight and dished out assists accurately. Now, he last averaged 9.2 PPG and 5.1 APG. So technically, Nelson had a productive season. He played an average of 27.3 MPG with the Nuggets and was a good leader for younger prospects. Now 35 years old, it is inevitable that Nelson will struggle in the league next year or the year after that. He has gotten slower and less durable throughout the years. He hasn't necessarily declined yet, but I envision that next year could mark a turning point for his career. I still see him as the once young guard that he was, but that is all behind him.

13 Monta Ellis

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Arguably, Monta Ellis has been declining ever since the end of last season. With the Pacers, he averaged 8.5 PPG and 3.2 APG, this past season. These numbers aren't average, but they are somewhat respectable. Ellis is not necessarily surrounded by the same talent as he was in Golden State and Milwaukee, so his numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Anyway, I think his numbers will drop even more next season. The Pacers must realize that they are giving him way too many minutes and that he is taking time away from younger prospects. He played an average of 27 MPG this past season, so the team needs to re-evaluate their goals and future playoff aspirations.

12 Zach Randolph

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Randolph averaged 14.1 PPG and 8.2 RPG this past year. He played the ball well at the hoop and was a great help to younger players on the Grizzlies. Now 35 years old, it is inevitable that he will decline next season. Randolph has already seen his minutes drop and I am sure that the team will continue to do that. He hasn't been unproductive yet, but he is losing significant speed and already looks like he cannot play as long as he used to. After 15 years in the NBA, the guy has got to think to himself; 'how much longer can I really play in this league?'

Randolph has been a great contributor, but I can see him retiring after next year. Some say he could go into coaching, but this is largely speculation.

11 Wayne Ellington

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Wayne Ellington is now 29, odd as it sounds. He has played seven seasons in the NBA and averaged 10.5 PPG this past season. The Miami Heat utilized him, but I am not sure another team will next year, or even the Heat for that matter. He has lost speed and seems somewhat less aggressive. The Main Line alum who played in PVJSA may see a swift decline next season. He only started 13 games in Miami and is playing a lot less than he did earlier on in his career. Roy Williams may have envisioned Wayne going far in his career, but he will soon be on the wrong side of 30. Wayne Ellington needs to make Wynnewood proud.

10 Ricky Rubio

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Rubio averaged 11.1 PPG and 9.1 APG this past season. He played well around the perimeter and was an accurate passer. The Wolves have enjoyed his presence and mostly viewed him as an unselfish guard. I think he will decline next year, though. The organization isn't headed anywhere quick and Rubio seems a little strained from playing basketball. He is only 26, but many other athletes have seen their careers begin to decline at this point. The organization needs to build around the younger guys and potentially move on from his presence.

I think Rubio brings energy to the court, but I could easily see him losing value next year, when yet another draft class comes into light. Rubio will decline.

9 Dirk Nowitzki

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Dirk will likely retire after next season, or after the year after that. He is easily a Hall of Fame caliber player, but he clearly is a different player than he was early on in his career. He averaged a respectable 14.2 PPG and 6.5 RPG this past season, compared to his 18.3 PPG and 6.9 RPG in 2015. In other words, I think he is already beginning a decline (which will transpire next year). Dirk will still get big minutes next year, but the Mavericks need to start building, even more so, for the future. It is almost unfathomable that he won't be playing basketball forever, but well.. he won't. He has enjoyed a tremendous career, but his career is bound to end very, very, soon.

8 Kevin Love

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Love has been a great piece for the Cavaliers. There has been some rumors that he could leave Cleveland after this season, but I am not too sure that will happen if he wins another championship. He played well this season, averaging 19 PPG and 11.1 RPG. He didn't shoot well from the field, but hey, the Cavaliers have LeBron James to make up for that. Next year will be different for Love. LeBron might not be the same player and some other minor aspects of the team could shift. Deron Williams may want out and some the coaching staff has considered moving on for more money.

I think Love will see an increase in minutes next year, but a drop in point production. He may remain a solid rebounder, but next year might be the time he slows down just a little bit.

7 DeAndre Jordan

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Jordan, 28, averaged 12.7 PPG and 13.8 RPG this past season. In other words, the guy was very helpful for an above average Los Angeles Clippers team. Taking this as legitimate as it is, the Clippers may lose Blake Griffin in the offseason. Regardless if this happens or not, Jordan has been struggling with staying healthy recently. He played nearly all of his games, but he struggled with back issues and played a little less time. I think the loss of Blake Griffin will hinder his career and cause his career to head in another direction. Chris Paul enjoys his presence down low, but Paul may also be on the wrong side of 32. The Clippers need to go back to the drawing board and look for young prospects in the draft.

6 Vince Carter

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Vince Carter averaged 8 PPG and 3.1 RPG, but he has still been a big help for the Memphis Grizzlies. While his stats may be deceiving, Vince still played an average of 24.7 MPG. Ultimately, I think the Grizzlies, or whatever team he is on next season, will stunt his playing time. He has demonstrated competency in being a leader, so I could surely imagine him taking a veteran mentor position on an organization next year. Carter was once a great option for a team at the forward position, but age has relegated him to being a bench player. Frankly, it's remarkable he's still playing. I think it is fair to say he will decline this season, because teams have found value in him for a few years now.

5 Taj Gibson

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Gibson will be turning 32 next year. He averaged 10.8 PPG and 6.2 RPG this past season for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Power Forward is not rebounding as well as he previously would, as he averaged 11.9 RPG in 2013. Gibson seems to be lethargic. The Thunder have relied on Steven Adams heavily in the past year and the loss of Kevin Durant has made Russell Westbrook, essentially, take over every position. Arguably, Gibson has lacked versatility since he entered the league in 2009. He has been shooting better from the free throw line recently, but his field goal percentages and perimeter shooting is not too good.

I think Gibson will take more of a veteran bench spot next season, assuming he is in OKC, and help mentor some younger players. He has some juice left in the tank, but I wouldn't be shocked to see him decline next year.

4 Joakim Noah

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Noah began his career a Chicago Bull. This past season - with the New York Knicks - Noah averaged a rough 5 PPG but a solid 8.8 RPG. Arguably, he is already declining. The only reason I say he has not yet, necessarily, is because he was a good rebounder and down low presence for the Knicks last season. Next year, I predict Noah loses even more minutes to Kristaps and other younger big men. He has lost some of his jump shot touch, which used to be accurate from the free throw line range, and he doesn't have the same fire that he once had playing alongside Derrick Rose (in Chicago).

I would like to see Noah succeed, but it seems improbable as his point total has dropped substantially from previously in his career. During the 2012-13 season, Noah averaged 11.9 PPG and 11.1 RPG. Obviously, these numbers are nowhere to be found now.

3 Dwyane Wade

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Wade averaged 18.1 PPG and 3.8 APG with the Chicago Bulls this past season. There are rumors that he will join LeBron James in Cleveland, but either way, I don't see him being that much of a contributor. Wade is a great competitor and a legendary shooter, but he is on the wrong side of 35 years old. He seems drained and like he has played so much basketball that it pains him. I know he loves the game, but his numbers have seen a significant drop. He has been suffering from injuries and struggled to stay healthy.

With any luck, he will play one or two more years, but in all honesty, his time being a star on the court is limited.

2 Chris Paul

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Chris Paul will never win a championship. Not only is he on a team that won't compete for a title, but it has been acknowledged, multiple occasions, that he is one of the worst teammates in professional sports. He is known to be very short tempered and mean to his teammates. Regardless, Paul is turning 33. He averaged a respectable 18.1 PPG and 9.2 APG last season, but his production could surely drop if the Clippers lose Blake Griffin in the offseason. Paul is a tough competitor, but I fear his career will go in the wrong direction next season because of his circumstance and ability to annoy his own teammates. Everything could escalate for him. It might be time for him to retire in 1-3 years.

1 Dwight Howard

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It seems to me that Dwight Howard has been unhappy ever since he left the Orlando Magic. While it is arguable that his career has been spiraling downwards for some time now, I feel he has still been a useful player on the court. I think next season will mark a period when it finally hits him; he will never be the same player he used to be and the NBA is much different from when it was earlier in his career. Howard averaged 13.5 PPG and 12.7 RPG with the Hawks this past season, which are very respectable numbers. A year before, he averaged very similar numbers of 13.7 PPG and 11.8 RPG. I feel he will not average a double double next season and things will only get worse for him.

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