The past 10 years in Nets history have been filled with highs and lows, ups and downs, and any other sports cliché you can come up with describing a team’s history. I don’t think I need to remind you that their low was a lot lower than most when the 2009-10 team only managed to win 12 games. The franchise received a boost when they acquired Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz in 2011, who was widely considered as a top two point guard in the NBA at the time.
The Nets then moved to Brooklyn and became a team that certainly wasn’t afraid to spend some money in trying to bring home a championship. They have acquired free agents, drafted key players, and traded for superstars. So there is no time like the present to take a look back over the past decade to see who the top ten players have been for the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets.
This list focuses on the player’s tenure with the Nets. I’m not going to get into whether or not a player was overpaid or underachieved based on projections- that could be an entire piece by itself (And it might be!). Now let’s get to the list!
10. Anthony Morrow (2010-2012)
I know, I know… I know. I asked myself the same question when making this list, “Is Anthony freaking Morrow seriously the tenth best Net in the past decade?” and I think the answer is yes. He narrowly beat out Gerald Wallace, Courtney Lee, Yi Jianlian. (Those three players are why this isn’t a top-15 or top-20 list.)
Anthony Morrow was a legitimate scoring threat when in New Jersey. He averaged a career high 13.2 points per game while shooting 42% from beyond the arc during the 2010-11 season. He was regarded around the league as one of the best three point shooters and has made a career out of being a long distance specialist.
He followed his first season as a Net with another solid year that saw him put up 12 points per contest on a struggling New Jersey squad. Morrow was always a threat to put up points in a hurry when left open and could never be forgotten about when on the floor. Sure, he won’t be getting his jersey retired any time soon and there are probably a handful of fans who can’t even remember him. But he was effective while in New Jersey and actually hit his prime while with the Nets. He’s number 10 and I won’t be talked out of it!
9. Nenad Krstic (2004-2008)
A forgotten role player for the who anchored the Nets teams of the mid/late-2000’s is Serbian big man Nenad Krstic. He was drafted 24th overall by New Jersey in 2002 and came over to the states at the start of the 2004 season. He was immediately thrust into the starting lineup and averaged double figures while being named to the NBA’s All-Rookie 2nd team.
He was never known as a dominant rebounder or a shot blocking presence but he knew his role on the team. Krstic was a slow methodical post player who had great court vision for his size. If you don’t exactly remember how Krstic played; think of a foreign, less physically gifted version of a young Brook Lopez.
Krstic was plagued by injuries during the second half of his NBA career and was out of the league by 2011 at the young age of 27. Although, his career is still striving in Europe as he has spent the past three seasons with CSKA Moscow in Russia while notching two straight First Team All-Euroleague selections. Krstic just recently signed a contract to play in Turkey this upcoming season.
The Serbian Slayer was never the flashiest player on the court but he was a guy who served his purpose throughout his entire tenure in New Jersey. Not everyone can be in the SportsCenter highlights right?
8. Kris Humphries (2010-2014)
Humphries is a man better known for his off court life rather than being known as solid player for 4 seasons with the Nets. He was 5th in the league in back to back seasons in rebounds per game. He also averaged a career high in points and rebounds in the team’s last season in New Jersey at almost 14 points and 11 rebounds.
He was relegated to a reserve role in his last season in Brooklyn as his production began to lack and his off court life started to affect his play. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that Humphries was a glass-eating machine when his mind was clear. He is arguably the Nets best rebounder in the past decade of the franchise.
The former Golden Gopher and paparazzi target just recently signed on to play with the Wizards after a forgettable season with the Celtics this past year. Love him or hate him, Humphries contributed on a high level for the Nets for parts of 4 seasons and it would be unfair to keep him off this list.
7. Devin Harris (2008-2011)
Devin Harris carried his fair share of under-performing Nets teams during his tenure in New Jersey. He was selected to the 2009 All-Star team and was really starting to blossom into a potential star in the league. He was explosive on drives to the basket and could defend his position at an almost elite level. There were a lot of reasons to believe that Harris would be the point guard for the Nets for many years to come after he averaged over 21 points per game in his first full season with the club.
Unfortunately, the biggest take away from his time spent with the Nets may be that he was a top two player on the infamously bad 2009-10 team that only managed to win 12 games. He was then shipped to Utah along with Derrick Favors in the blockbuster deal that landed Deron Williams in the Garden State.
Harris’ time with the Nets seems like a distant memory that is marred by that 12-win season. He seemed to have peaked after that 2009 All-Star selection but for a brief moment he really put it all together in a Nets uniform. He has just recently signed back to play for the Mavericks and has the ability to contribute on a team that will be an impact player in the West.
6. Joe Johnson (2012-Present)
His nicknames include Joe Cool, JJ, and the Armadillo Cowboy but Nets fans have come to know him as one of the most clutch players in the league. Johnson came to Brooklyn in move that saw the Nets send 5 players along with 2 draft picks to the Atlanta Hawks. He has not been able to put up the same type of numbers as he did while with the Hawks but he was selected to the All-Star game this past season.
It’s hard to argue that Johnson hasn’t been the most consistent player for the Nets since his arrival. He has also been the team’s go to playmaker in close games for the past two years. Johnson may have to revert back to his Atlanta days this upcoming season as he will be looked at to provide a lot of offense in the absence of Paul Pierce.
Joe Cool has played in 151 of a potential 164 games while in Brooklyn on a roster that is full of injury prone stars. He knows his strengths and weaknesses out on the court and has always had a knack for punishing smaller defenders in the post. He will be adding to his Nets legacy for the next couple of seasons and he should be able to break into the top five of this list before it is all said and done.