The Brooklyn Nets have lost more games than they’ve won over the past 10 years, will be over the salary cap with no chance of competing for a championship this year and don’t have a first-round pick for the foreseeable future.
The Nets’ history hasn’t been as bad as the past few years would indicate, however. The Nets have a history of some of the best players in NBA and ABA history, championships and sustained success. With only the Nets’ players to look back on, let’s look at a rather creative all-time starting five.
Center: Derrick Coleman
He never played the traditional center role for the Nets, but the Nets don’t have the best history at center, and Coleman deserves to be somewhere on the list. Over his five seasons in New Jersey, Coleman averaged almost 20 points and 11 rebounds while blocking 1.6 shots per game. He was an immediate force in the league averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds in his rookie season as one of the only threats of a 26-56 Nets team. Coleman’s career was riddled with injuries and attitude problems, but during his time with the Nets, he was a force to be reckoned with.
Power Forward: Julius Erving
The all-time starting five for the Nets will be playing a small-ball lineup with the 6-foot-7 Julius Erving at power forward. He’s arguably the most dominant player in Nets history and was one of the best rebounders in history at his size. In his three seasons with the Nets, he grabbed almost 11 rebounds per game, in addition to his 28 points per game on 51 percent shooting. Erving’s Nets days were also in the heyday of the ABA’s glory days, and he was the star of the league. Erving was a player who could compete in any era with his athleticism, size and efficiency, and would give teams fits with his knack for outrebounding the opposition.
Small Forward: Vince Carter
Vince Carter wasn’t with the Nets at the time of this dunk, and the dunk wasn’t in an NBA game, but any time you can post the best in-game dunk of all time, you do it.
Carter’s five seasons with the Nets were highlighted with a trip to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and he was incredibly productive over that time. With a five-year average of 23 points, six rebounds and five assists, Carter made a name for himself as more than just an exceptional dunker. Carter also shot 37 percent from the three-point line during his time in New Jersey, maintaining an incredibly productive career that started in Toronto. Carter was able to create offense for himself, but could also set up his teammates, handing out over five assists per game during the 2007-2008 season.
Shooting Guard: Drazen Petrovic
His prime was cut short due to a car accident, but when Drazen Petrovic was finally given the opportunity to play in the NBA, he showed that he was one of the best shooters the league had ever seen. Petrovic may have been ahead of his time as he took 3.4 three-point attempts per game – and converted over 44 percent of those attempts – when the average NBA team was only shooting just over seven attempts per game. The league’s average effective field goal percentage during that same season was 48.7 percent, but Petrovic had an effective field goal percentage of 55.5 percent. In the two seasons where Petrovic received significant playing time, he averaged over 21 points and three assists, just under three rebounds and maintained an effective field goal percentage of 55.3 percent. Only two players averaged at least 16 field goal attempts per game while maintaining an effective field goal percentage higher than Petrovic’s.
Point Guard: Jason Kidd
Jason Kidd may be better known for his stints with other teams in the league, but his time in New Jersey may have been Kidd at his best. Over those seven seasons, he averaged 14.6 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. While he was never known as a shooter, he led the league twice in assists per game and was a fantastic defender over the course of his career. The Nets made the playoffs every season that Kidd played with the team, including two trips to the NBA Finals. Kidd brought the Nets more success than they had seen since the 1976 ABA Championship, and was arguably the team’s best player since the MVP of that team, Dr. J.
Previous all-time starting fives: Bulls, Pistons, Thunder-Sonics, Magic, Mavericks, Heat, Lakers, Wizards, Pacers, Raptors, Knicks, Bucks, Nuggets, Celtics, Grizzlies, Rockets, Pelicans-Hornets-Jazz, Clippers, Jazz, Spurs, Suns, Kings, Cavaliers, Hawks