No one loves an ending. It does not matter how you spin it, the ending of anything sucks, plain and simple. There are so many things that are great in the beginning, like vacations, movies, books, relationships, friendships, and a new music album, but when you get to the ending, you feel as if you just lost a tiny piece of yourself that you can never get back.
Even the man who wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), Frank Baum, once said, "Everything has to come to an end, sometime."
For a professional basketball player, the ending for them means the ending of an era that touched so many lives along the way. It means that we will no longer get to witness the greatness that this guy has given us on the court each and every game.
Since 2015, the NBA has seen some of the greatest players of all-time retire, including Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Manu Ginobili, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Jason Richardson.
The good news is that every time we watch a superstar retire, there are a handful of incoming rookies that are ready to take the league by storm and make their own marks in the NBA. So let's take a look at the next 10 NBA players on their way out and the 10 best incoming college players for 2019.
20 Outgoing: Udonis Haslem, C, Miami Heat
The fact that Udonis Haslem is on this list means he is way overdue for a retirement. Who even knew he was still in the league?
Since 2015, Udonis Haslem has played in just 69 games while averaging 6.8 minutes per night. He has watched his numbers decline on a yearly basis and there has become very little room for him on the roster. But there is a good chance he simply wanted to be there for the final ride of Dwyane Wade's career since the two of them have played together for most of his NBA career, which began in 2003.
His game was never pretty but he was effective. Udonis Haslem owns three NBA rings including one from the 2005-06 season, without LeBron James or Chris Bosh, and he started 80 games that year when they also had Shaquille O'Neal on the roster too.
19 Incoming: Keldon Johnson, SG, Kentucky
One of the most underrated aspects in future NBA prospects is how they play on defense. Keldon Johnson is one of the best defenders on the 2019 NBA prospect board who can quickly bounce back on offense and drive the ball right to the hoop. He can also score in motion, another underrated measurable that is often overlooked with incoming prospects.
But he is young and he looks it. He needs to get bigger to be able to handle the grind of the NBA, night after night if he wants to make those shots consistently. It is one thing to be great at shooting on the move, it is another thing to do it while taking punishment from his opponents every single day.
He is a poor man's R.J. Barrett for now but could easily surpass him when the draft comes around if he can show us this season what he can do consistently.
18 Outgoing: Raymond Felton, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
When Raymond Felton joined the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, that marked the seventh team he has played for in his career. He started off with the Charlotte Bobcats before going to the New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks, and Los Angeles Clippers.
But he has been able to find success because he steals minutes and can run the point position better than most other players coming off the bench in the NBA. Last year, he actually played in all 82 games for just the second time in his NBA career. So far this season, he has seen a decline in his numbers but still knows how to get the job done when called upon.
He knows his time is coming to an end, but when will he make it official?
17 Incoming: Quentin Grimes, SG, Kansas
The NBA is always changing and evolving. 25 years ago, Quentin Grimes would be a lottery pick, no question about it. But he lacks two key aspects of success in the NBA, three-point accuracy and a faster release on jump shots.
The issue he is going to struggle with once he joins the NBA is that he is also not the greatest defender and could get lost in the shuffle of the NBA hustle. In other words, while his teammates are fighting for a chance to get playing time, he will have to find a way to join that fight or he is not going to make it in the league.
But for all that negative, Quentin Grimes is truly a gifted guard that is a great passer and is already built for the league.
16 Outgoing: J.R. Smith, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers
J.R. Smith has been in the NBA since 2004 when the New Orleans Pelicans drafted him in the first round. He showed signs of what he can do in New Orleans but they never allowed him to do what the Denver Nuggets eventually did. They had an offense that allowed players to shoot at will, and often. That was the perfect style of play for J.R. Smith until he met LeBron James.
When he arrived in Cleveland in 2014, he immediately became an underrated starter that could find a way to make the tough shots in the big games each season. But none of that matters anymore because of one bonehead moment that occurred last year.
We all know that J.R. Smith's career was done the moment he blew the Cavaliers' chances at upsetting the Golden State Warriors in Game One of the NBA Finals. When he grabbed the rebound and dribbled the ball away from the basket, he blew their shot and is now playing for a team that is the worst in the NBA.
15 Incoming: Kris Wilkes, SF, UCLA
There is a guy in the NBA today named Khris Middleton who has quietly become a star in Milwaukee but continues to go unnoticed around the league. He is averaging 19.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.3 steals this season and is a major contributing factor to the Bucks great start this season.
Why did we mention a random NBA player and not Kris Wilkes? Maybe that is because they have similar first names and playing styles, but the kid at UCLA is actually going to be a bigger star in the NBA.
There are certain aspects of Wilkes' game that are scary because he is only 20-years-old. His work ethic is elite and he has an understanding of the basic fundamentals that are tough to coach at this point. That is key for a successful future in the NBA.
14 Outgoing: Devin Harris, SG, Dallas Mavericks
The one thing Devin Harris does is score. He can score from anywhere on the court and was a superstar in New Jersey when he averaged 21.3 points per game during the 2008-09 season. But things have changed and he has not averaged double figures since the 2011-12 season.
He has helped the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, and Denver Nuggets, since 2012, in many other ways than just scoring. His experience is tough to replicate on the floor and he comes off the bench to provide some very valuable minutes. But that gets tougher as the years go on.
Let's not forget that he is now back in Dallas so he can retire as a Maverick, the team he considers to be his safest.
13 Incoming: Sekou Doumbouya, PF, France
Sekou Doumbouya is only going to find success in the NBA if he lands with the right team on draft day. He needs to go to a team that can help with his very raw skill set. There is no one who will disagree that he is one of the most physically impressive incoming prospects next year but he still has so much untapped potential that we simply have not seen yet because of where he is playing.
He is being considered a first-round selection even though he is still learning the game and needs to improve his fundamentals like ball handling. He is not yet the greatest outside shooter but he has shown us that he can drop back and sink a triple at times, which makes him a very dangerous power forward. If he can turn all that potential into talent, he will become the next star of this league.
12 Outgoing: Tyson Chandler, C, Los Angeles Lakers
At 36-years-old, Tyson Chandler is heading on his way out of the NBA. But he is finally at a place in his life where he is going to chase the title instead of worry about money or rebuilding. So he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers and has been nothing short of amazing for them. He is only averaging 2.8 points per game but that is not where he excels. He is averaging 7.5 rebounds and a block per game and that is his value.
Since entering the league, Tyson Chandler was never a numbers guy (unless you count his once-consistent double-digit rebounding), but he was a defensive nightmare. He was a monster in the paint. He owned the basket on defense and was extremely tough to get past. He is the same as Darrelle Revis in that he never put up sexy numbers because players never liked going through him. They would settle for a jumper or pass the ball to avoid meeting him in the lane.
11 Incoming: Bol Bol, C, Oregon
Do not let the name fool you, Bol Bol is as real as they come at the center position. At 19-years-old, he is already a monster that is terrorizing the Pac-12 with his 7'2" height, without shoes on, and his 7'8" wingspan. But he is more than just a tall guy that sits in the post, blocking shots and grabbing boards. He can shoot from all over the place. Overall, he can become a much better NBA player than his late father, Manute Bol.
He has only played a few games this season but the sample size is good enough to make NBA scouts go nuts over him. It is not very often we get to see a 7'2" center shooting threes, and making them, or averaging 18.8 points per game while also shooting 75% from the free throw line.
One of the biggest cons so far is that he has a tendency to run out of gas in games. But he has a full season to change their minds and move up the draft board.
10 Outgoing: Jamal Crawford, SG, Phoenix Suns
Since 2002, Jamal Crawford has averaged 15.6 points, 3.5 assists, and 2.3 rebounds per game and always averaged at least 10 points per season. He did this while also becoming a sixth man. As a starter, he was good, but coming off the bench, he was great. He would go on to win the NBA Sixth Man of the Year three times with two different teams. For his career, he has played for eight different teams, mostly as a sixth man.
So as he continues to play this season out, we cannot help but feel a bit of sadness as we watch him struggle to produce the way we have gotten used to the past 15 years. His minutes have been cut in half in Phoenix and that means his scoring is also extremely low.
At 38-years-old, there is little chance we expect him to be around the league beyond this year, and he could even announce his retirement sooner rather than later.
9 Incoming: Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina
One of the toughest positions to defend in the NBA today is small forward. It is generally a spot reserved for big guys who can play both ends of the court. They can shoot from all over the place and can become the leader of any offense. That is why the NBA's biggest stars today are all small forwards. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Jayson Tatum, and Gordon Hayward are all small forwards naturally.
Nassir Little is the next future NBA player to make this list. He has it all. He can defend better than most of the players on this list but he can also cover the floor on the offensive side of the ball. He is never going to average 30 points per game but if he can develop into the talent he has shown, at times, then it is not hard to think he could become a 20 points, 10 rebounds, five assists-per-night guy.
8 Outgoing: Carmelo Anthony, SF, Houston Rockets
At the University of Syracuse, Carmelo Anthony had one of the most amazing freshman seasons of all time. He led the 2002-03 Orangemen to a 30-5 record, Big East conference title, and a National title while averaging 22.2 points, 10 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. It was the reason he was drafted third overall that summer.
But the NBA would never get to see that same guy. Instead, he slowly turned into a one-trick pony and his game was more about getting his shots than winning or making his teammates better. So although he was entertaining to watch, and he could drop 50 points at any time, he never helped his teams become champions – not even close.
And now that the Houston Rockets are preparing to release him, it might be time to give it up and figure out the next stage of his life.
7 Incoming: Nazreon Reid, C, LSU
When LSU landed the commitment from Nazreon Reid, the entire LSU basketball community went nuts. They knew what kind of talent this kid was and that head coach Will Wade was going to figure out a way to turn him into an even better player than he was in high school; not an easy feat for a young coach.
At 6'10" and 250 pounds, he is big and intimidating while also being pretty mobile for a man of his size. He is powerful in the paint and can dominate the low post with ease, overpowering defenders all the time. If you need to compare him to any former NBA player, Anthony Mason would be a good start. Now imagine that Anthony Mason could score 25 points a night too.
6 Outgoing: Pau Gasol, C, San Antonio Spurs
Earlier this month, Pau Gasol restated that he does not plan on retiring after this season. He continues to talk about his future plans in the league and how he might consider it in another two years or so.
But it might not be his choice very soon as he continues to see his minutes and numbers decline. Although he is signed until the ending of the 2019-20 season, he could end up becoming trade bait, or simply cut. He is making $16.8 million this season and another $16 million next year. But since he is battling nagging foot injuries this year, he only has played in nine games and is barely averaging 17 minutes a night.
5 Incoming: Cam Reddish, SG, Duke
As you are about to see, Duke should end up with the top three selections in the 2019 NBA draft. The trio of freshmen has already helped Duke destroy the nation's second-ranked Kentucky Wildcats, on national television.
One of the stars of the Duke trio is none other than Cam Reddish, the big man who can play multiple positions. He is a stud that can heat up in a hurry and turn a close game into a blowout in a few possessions. His ability to catch and shoot helps Duke's transition offense. His style of play is key to his future success in the NBA as it gives him a chance to star on any team right away. His accuracy from the field is deadly and his jumper is smoother than silk. He can get the ball out quickly and make his shots regularly.
Because of his ability to shoot and his overall size, he has been compared to Rudy Gay but with a better set of skills.
4 Outgoing: Dwyane Wade, SG, Miami Heat
Before the 2018-19 season began, Dwyane Wade announced that this would be his last year in the NBA. It is a gesture that allows him the chance to enjoy the final season while getting every single standing ovation from every single arena he plays each night. All of it is well-deserved.
While everyone was getting sucked into the hype behind LeBron James, Dwyane Wade was down in Miami turning them into NBA Champions by his third season. Many fans forget that when he was just 24-years-old, he turned the Heat into champions with his 27.2 points, 6.7 assists, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game during the 2005-06 season.
His final season is a sad day for any NBA fan because he was always one of the hardest working players in the league, year after year. He hustled harder than anyone else on the court every night and always played the game with respect.
3 Incoming: R.J. Barrett, SG, Duke
So far this season, the superstar freshman from Canada, R.J. Barrett, has already shown us what he can do. Right away, he showcased his amazing shooting when he dropped 33 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds against Kentucky in the Duke season opener.
The biggest weakness NBA scouts tend to make note of about him is that he lacks explosiveness in and around the basket. He does not explode to the basket or blow by defenders, especially the bigger ones. But he makes up for it with his long body and his smooth shooting. He just has a knack for finding the hoop and making the big shot.
2 Outgoing: Vince Carter, SF, Atlanta Hawks
At 41-years-old, Vince Carter is the oldest player in the NBA this season, and the oldest since 2007, when Kevin Willis played his last NBA game at the age of 44. That was good enough for fifth on the all-time list of oldest NBA players. If Vince Carter can make it to February 2nd, he will surpass the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for fourth.
It is hard to imagine that he is still worth a spot on the roster but his experience, and ability to help rookies like the Hawks' prized point guard, Trae Young, understand how to manage the transition from college to the pros. He still averages around 7.3 points and 2.3 rebounds a game while playing 18.4 minutes per game. He has even become the Atlanta Hawks' starting SF this season.
1 Incoming: Zion Williamson, PF, Duke
Zion Williamson has been blowing our minds since his junior year in high school. How is it possible for a kid who is 6'7" and 285 pounds, be able to handle the ball like Stephen Curry, run the point like Chris Paul, shoot from anywhere on the floor like Anthony Davis, and own the paint like Tyson Chandler?
Did we mention he was quick, fast, and has a 42-inch vertical jump?
At that size, it continues to blow people away when they watch Zion Williamson play. It is almost as if they do not believe the hype. But they should because this kid is going to take over the NBA in a couple years.