Monday, July 19, 2010
New Jersey Nets: All-Time NBA Starting Fives
Sadly, with the notable and fleeting exception of the Jason Kidd era just after the turn of the last century, the Nets’ history is chock-full of mediocrity and irrelevance, with the franchise’s most noteworthy “accomplishment” being the atrocious 12-win 2009-10 season. And while the emergence of Brook Lopez as an elite big man, combined with the ambition and seemingly endless wealth of new owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, provide optimism for the future, the franchise’s present remains grim after a fruitless free agency period, and its history is anything but “storied”.
PG– Jason Kidd (14.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 9.1 apg, 1.9 spg in 506 games)
Interestingly, the PG position for the New Jersey Nets over the past three decades has featured a disproportionate number of talented and productive lead guards – in addition to Kidd, Micheal Ray Richardson (16.1 ppg, 6.8 apg, 2.7 spg), Mookie Blaylock (13- 5.9- 2.2), Kenny Anderson (15.3- 7.8), Stephon Marbury (23- 8.1) and Sam Cassell (19.5- 7.6 in just 201 games) have all run the point in Jersey – but none combined statistics with team success the way that Jason Kidd did.
SG– Drazen Petrovic (19.5 ppg, 51.1% FG, 43.7% 3-pt, 2.8 rpg, 2.9 apg in 195 games)
Outside of Petrovic, Vince Carter is the only noteworthy SG in Nets’ history (Kerry Kittles? Otis Birdsong?). And while, after flirting with greatness in Toronto, Carter put up outstanding numbers (23.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.7 apg, in 374 games) in his 4+ years with the Nets – easily surpassing those of Petrovic – his time in New Jersey will be remembered for the team’s post-Finals return to mediocrity and Carter’s inability to combine with Jason Kidd to consistently keep the team competitive.
SF– Derrick Coleman (19.9 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.6 bpg in 348 games)
Statistically, Coleman had some solid competition, but from an all-around perspective, he easily surpassed Keith Van Horn (18.2- 7.6) and Richard Jefferson (17.4- 5.4), and while he couldn’t edge out Bernard King’s great two-year, late-1970s run with the Nets (20.2- 7.8 in 193 games), his relative longevity with the franchise earned him the nod. Richard Jefferson was also deserving of strong consideration, putting up solid stats in back-to-back Finals runs – making him the solid #2 choice here – but he was never the face of the franchise and it’s pretty clear that a good chunk of Jefferson’s success is directly attributable to Jason Kidd.
PF– Buck Williams (16.4 ppg, 55% FG, 11.9 rpg, 1.1 bpg in 635 games)
C– Brook Lopez (15.9 ppg, 51.2% FG, 81% FT, 8.4 rpg, 1.8 bpg in 164 games)
The only other names of note – and I use that term loosely – in the middle for the Nets were Sam Bowie (12.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.6 bpg in 280 games from 1989-93) and Shawn Bradley (12.3- 8- 3.8 bpg), both of whom grabbed 8+ boards, protected the rim (check out Bradley’s blocks per game!) and each contributed more than a dozen points per game. It’s worth noting that, when healthy, “the guy picked ahead of Jordan” was actually a decent player. It helps also that in addition to Bowie, Lopez’s competition for this spot was Mike Gminski, Chris Dudley and an aging Darryl Dawkins.