No. 3 – Deron Williams, 2017
For a long time the NBA was torn on which point guard from the 2005 NBA Draft was better. Chris Paul had an excellent start to his career, but many put their money on Deron Williams, the former Illinois guard who was one of the league’s best passers with the Utah Jazz right from the jump.
Williams made three All-Star teams and two All-NBA teams in the prime of his career, but his career dropped off as he joined the New Jersey / Brooklyn Nets, and he was a part of the Nets’ “superteam” that failed to achieve liftoff. By his age-32 season he was clearly on the downswing of his career, but even so he averaged 13.1 points and 6.9 assists per game for the Dallas Mavericks before he agreed to a buyout.
That buyout allowed him to sign wth the contending Cleveland Cavaliers, joining LeBron James and company to provide steady play at backup point guard. The problem? His steady play on offense was nothing spectacular, and he was downright terrible on defense, unable to guard his man on the perimeter or dig down into passing lanes for steals. He posted career-worst marks in defensive metrics and in steal rate.
The Cavs didn’t feel they had a better option, playing him in all 18 of their playoff games that season, and to his credit his play picked up a bit in the postseason. Even so, that year would be his last in the NBA.