I covered numbers 10 through 6 last week. Give it a read before you dive into the top 5 on the list!
Now it is time to talk about some stars and some superstars that have worn a Nets jersey in the past decade. These guys are/were cornerstones of basketball in New Jersey and Brooklyn. They can’t be forgotten when it comes to talking about Nets history. They have all had their share of success on the hardwood and some of them still have a chance to really cement their legacy and someday have their number retired with all of the Nets legends. But enough with the build-up, let’s get to the top five of this list!
5. Deron Williams (2011-Present)
Deron Williams may be the most complained about person that resides in Brooklyn since Spike Lee infuriated the entire state of Indiana in the mid-90’s. But the fact of the matter is that he is currently the face of the franchise; maybe by default, but still. Williams was the piece that provided hope for a floundering franchise and helped usher in a new era of Nets basketball.
He came to New Jersey as the centerpiece of a blockbuster deal during the 2010-11 season that included Devin Harris (#7 on this list). Williams averaged a career high 21 points per game in his first full season with the Nets and was named to the 2012 All-Star Team. The franchise moved to Brooklyn the following year with Williams steering the ship for the foreseeable future.
Unfortunately, he has since not been able to blossom into the superstar that most had predicted he would become when originally joining the Nets due to nagging injuries among other things. But Williams is still an above average point guard that has the ability to lead his team in scoring while dishing out double-digit assists (when healthy). We will likely be getting two more years of “D-Will” in Brooklyn and he has the potential to climb a few spots on this list before it’s all said and done.
4. Brook Lopez (2008-Present)
Brook Lopez is the Nets best draft selection in the past decade, by far. Like, by really far. Number two on that list is Mason Plumlee and he’s only played one season in Brooklyn. And for the record, Josh Boone is last on that list. Although the race for worst on that list is a lot closer than it should be. But back to the man who panned out in the league!
Lopez has played all six of his seasons in a Nets uniform and has career averages of 18 points and 7 rebounds per game. He was a member of the 2013 Eastern Conference All-Star team in a season that saw him crack the top ten in the NBA for points per game. He has been a constant for the franchise and is unquestionably a top-five center in the NBA when he’s able to play a full season. Unfortunately, he has missed almost two full seasons in the past three years due to a litany of injuries.
The former Stanford standout will be heavily relied upon going into next season and will hopefully be able to find his 2013-self that was forming into a relentless offensive juggernaut. Amidst the constant trade rumors that have been associated with Lopez throughout the past few years, he has been with the Nets through thick and thin. Quality big men are hard to find in the NBA and here’s to hoping that Brooklyn’s quality big is able to stay on the floor this upcoming season.
3. Richard Jefferson (2001-2008)
Jefferson may be the most underappreciated New Jersey Net that isn’t named Kerry Kittles in Nets franchise history. He may be known now as a three point specialist who is getting paid an obscene amount of money, but he was a completely different type of player during his time in New Jersey.
Drafted by the Nets in 2001, Jefferson was a key contributor right away on a Nets team that reached the NBA Finals. He was thrust into a starting role the following season and didn’t relinquish his spot until parting ways with the team. “RJ” was an explosive scorer who made a name for himself by getting to the rim and ferociously dunking on whoever stepped in his path. He put up a career high 22.6 points per game in his last season in New Jersey, good for 9th in the NBA.
Jefferson was the perfect type of player to compliment Jason Kidd and excelled in the open floor. He has played with four different teams since leaving the Nets in 2008 while adapting into more of an outside threat as opposed to his former slashing style. He recently signed on to play for the Dallas Mavericks this season and should see quality minutes as a three point specialist off the bench.
2. Vince Carter (2004-2009)
Carter was an absolute menace during his time with the Nets. He forced his way out of Toronto during the 2004 season and never looked back. He exploded during his first 57 games in New Jersey as he averaged 27.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game while shooting 42% from long distance. If that’s not a way to say hello to a new team, then I don’t know what is.
Carter was a 3-time All-Star during his 4 ½ seasons with the team while also being named the player of the month three different times. He averaged over 20 points per contest in each of his seasons and also became one of the most reliable scorers down the stretch in close games. There was simply nothing that he couldn’t do on the offensive end of the floor. Another thing that should be remembered is the fact that he never suffered a major injury during his stint with the Nets, missed 11 total games.
He has become a steady veteran for three different teams since leaving New Jersey and still shows flashes of his high flying brilliance from time to time. The once half-man half-amazing superstar has just signed onto play for the Memphis Grizzlies in a role that will see him coming off the bench to provide instant offense to a defensive minded team. Guys like Carter don’t come around too often and the Nets may never see a talent quite like him again.
1. Jason Kidd (2001-2008)
Forget everything that went on this offseason with the departure of Head Coach Jason Kidd. We’re talking about the player Jason Kidd, the guy who took New Jersey basketball to the next level. There can be no argument as to who is the greatest Net in the past decade. Kidd’s awards and achievements during his time with the Nets are unmatched.
He was a 5-time All-Star during his 6 ½ seasons in New Jersey to go along with being in the top five in assists per game every year, leading the entire league two of those seasons. Kidd was selected to three First or Second All NBA teams while also being named to the First or Second All Defensive Team five different times. He led the Nets to two consecutive NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003.
There was simply no player on earth better at the point guard position than Kidd for almost an entire decade. He saw the floor better than anyone during his extended prime and can be considered the bridge between John Stockton and Steve Nash when discussing the greatest passers of our generation. The Nets may never see a talent like the aforementioned Vince Carter again but the LEAGUE may never see a talent like Jason Kidd again. He was number 5 on the court but he’s number 1 on this list, that’s why his jersey is hanging in the rafters folks.
Join in on the discussion by commenting below and let us know if there is anyone that should have cracked the top five but didn’t make the cut!