Starting Five: NBA Players Entering 2015-16 At Career Crossroads

By Dave Leonardis

Every year, there are players who reach the proverbial fork in the road in their NBA careers. Whether due to a recent string of injuries or lack of productivity, these select few enter each new season with something to prove.

The five players on this list are the latest examples of this dilemma. At one point, each of them either became or had the potential to become NBA superstars, but tragic circumstances put their careers in limbo. The good news is they are still young enough to climb back up the NBA ladder. The bad news is their recent track record makes it difficult to put too much faith in a turnaround.

As the 2015-16 regular season rapidly approaches, will these players regain the form that once made them relevant or will their fall from grace continue?

1. Deron Williams, Point Guard, Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks guard Deron Williams poses for a photo during NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 28, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)© FanDuel Insider Dallas Mavericks guard Deron Williams poses for a photo during NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 28, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Once upon a time, there was a genuine debate over who was the best point guard in basketball: Chris Paul or Deron Williams? Fast-forward to 2015. Paul is still one of the best, if not the best, floor general in basketball and has the Los Angeles Clippers firmly in the NBA championship mix. Meanwhile, Williams is hoping to rejuvenate his career by returning home to Texas with the Dallas Mavericks, his third team in six years.

“I want to prove myself wrong because I started to doubt myself in the past,” Williams said, per Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star Telegram. “I’ve got to get out of that rut I was in the last couple of years mentally, and I look forward to this situation. I think it’s going to be better for me.”

There are plenty of reasons to be pessimistic about D-Will’s chances of turning things around. He’s played at least 70 games just twice in the last six years, while his scoring average has dropped in each of the last three seasons. As a testament to just how far Williams has fallen, ESPN placed him No. 114 in the 2015 edition of its yearly player rankings, which is down 59 spots from last season. Williams also has a history of butting heads with coaches, from Jerry Sloan in Utah to Jason Kidd and Lionel Hollins in Brooklyn.

On the bright side, Williams is still only 31 and just four years removed from an All-Star caliber season that saw him average 21 points and 8.7 assists. With Wesley Matthews (Achilles) and Chandler Parsons (knee) sidelined, he should have an increased offensive role as the No. 2 option behind Dirk Nowitzki while operating under lower expectations than in his last two stops.

Williams will never find himself in the “point god” discussion with Paul again, but if he can avoid the pitfalls that have hindered him in the past, there’s a chance he can still salvage his once-promising career.

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