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Time To Hang It Up: Five NBA Guards That Should Retire

In the ever-evolving world of professional basketball, time spares no player, not even the most skilled and revered guards in the game. As the seasons pass and the relentless march of time takes its toll, there comes a point when even the brightest NBA stars begin to fade.

The average guard's career lasts around 4.3 years, which is below the NBA's total average. The following players have done a remarkable job to stick around for this long, but it might be time to hang it up.

With that in mind, this article will look at the five players who would be better off retiring and moving on to the next chapter of their lives. In order to be eligible, a player must have played at least one game in the 2022-23 NBA season.


#5. Will Barton (Toronto Raptors)

Will Barton's contributions to the Nuggets franchise shouldn't be forgotten. When he left Denver in the offseason, he was the franchise's all-time leader in three-pointers made (later surpassed by Jamal Murray this season) and had played 479 games for the club, ranking him ninth among Nuggets players all-time. Many Nuggets fans were heartbroken when he, along with Monte Morris, was traded for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Smith. The trade has been a solid move for both teams, with Morris and Caldwell-Pope performing well for their new teams.

Barton and Smith have had some trouble though, to say the least. We'll get to Smith later, but Barton was disappointing in the capital before getting bought out. A move to the Raptors could have rejuvenated Barton's career, but Toronto has no idea how to use him. With Toronto, Barton has played the majority of his minutes at point guard. The 32-year-old had barely played PG in his NBA career before this season, and along with his streaky shooting, his tenure in Toronto has proven to be a disaster. His loss of athleticism has also made things harder for him on the defensive end. Barton flourished under Mike Malone's system, and without his longtime coach, he is finding it very hard to adjust.


#4. Ish Smith (Denver Nuggets)

Speaking of Ish Smith, this might just be the end of the line for his unusual NBA career. Smith is well-known for playing for 13 different franchises, which is an NBA record. He bounced around the league at a very rapid pace from 2010-11 to 2015-16, playing for nine different teams, but finally settled down in Detriot. He played in the Motor City for three years before going to Washington. Smith competed with Isaiah Thomas for most of the season for the starting PG spot and seemed to have become the full-time starter after IT2 was traded. But in the offseason, Washington got Russell Westbrook, meaning that Smith was now expendable.

Smith joined his hometown Hornets in 2021 but was traded back to Washington in February 2022. Smith was traded for the seventh time in his career in the aforementioned Will Barton trade and has struggled to provide any real value to the Nuggets off the bench. From his move to Detroit until his first departure from Washington (five seasons), Smith averaged a +3.9 Plus/Minus Net per 100 Possessions and never dipped below +2.0 in those five years. But since 2021-22, Smith's Plus/Minus Net per 100 Possessions average has plummeted to -6.4. For an undrafted 6'0 34-year-old, Smith has had a very solid and memorable career, and there's no shame if he decided to call it quits after this year.


#3. Goran Dragic (Milwaukee Bucks)

Dragic's signing with the Bucks is reminiscent of Pau Gasol moving to Milwaukee in 2019. Gasol played a few games for the Bucks, didn't see the floor in the playoffs, and then retired from the NBA after getting released by the Blazers. Gasol ended his career after playing seven games with his old team in the EuroLeague, Barcelona. It wouldn't be shocking to expect "The Dragon" to end his career the same way. Dragic has been largely ineffective ever since his plantar fasciitis injury that he suffered in Game 1 of the 2020 NBA Finals. Some Heat fans still believe their team could have become the 2020 NBA champions with a healthy Goran, but that's a story for another day.

Despite turning 37 in May, Dragic is still a decent player but is nowhere near his All-Star and All-NBA peaks, which is understandable given his age. He might want to end his career in Europe, so Goran can try his luck this year in Milwaukee before joining the successor of his former team, KK Cedevita Olimpija. Olimpija merged with Croatian club Cedevita to create this new team in 2019, and they could use Dragic's influence to bolster their fanbase and performance. They are also looking to three-peat as Slovenian champs, so they could give Dragic a happy ending, just like how Gasol won the Spanish league in his last season for the Blaugrana.


#2. Kemba Walker (Free Agent)

This is pretty sad. Many people were skeptical when the Mavs signed Kemba Walker, and they were proven right. The Mavs couldn't use Kemba properly, as they had him taking an absurd number of threes (49% of his shots were threes), and for someone who has a career three-point shooting percentage of 36%, that isn't the best idea. Kemba was actually great as a midrange shooter, but if you're an old guard with a long list of injury problems, you have got to hit your threes.

Kemba just couldn't drain his threes. He went 3-15 from deep in the eight games where he came off the bench, and in the one game that he started, he shot 4-13 from three. Sure, maybe another team can hide his weaknesses better, but at this point, what are his strengths? He's a slasher who has looked visibly slower since receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee in October 2020. He is no longer the same player, and it's very sad to see what injuries can do to someone who was an All-Star just four years ago. That brings us to...


#1. Derrick Rose (New York Knicks)

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. A lot of people forget this, but Derrick Rose could have retired in 2017 at the age of 29. In November 2017, just after playing seven games with the Cavs, Derrick took some time away from the team to seriously re-evaluate his NBA future. "He's tired of being hurt," Said a Cavs team source. "And it's taking a toll on him mentally." Thankfully, he reconsidered and kept playing. He had some good years in Minnesota and Detriot before returning to New York. Rose was good in his return to the Big Apple but has fallen off drastically since suffering a right ankle injury in December 2021.

The former NBA MVP managed to extend his career by becoming a reliable three-point shooter but struggled mightily from deep this year. He has seemingly accepted that he is no longer good enough to play consistently for the Knicks, continuously praising his team's young guards Immanuel Quickley and Miles McBride. Rose doesn't want to get hurt again, as he once famously said: "I don't want to be in my meetings all sore or be at my son's graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past." At this point, signing a one-day deal with Chicago to retire as a Bull would be the best move for Derrick and his future.

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