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10 Greatest Brooklyn Nets Players Of All Time

10 Greatest Brooklyn Nets Players Of All Time

The Brooklyn Nets were founded in 1967 as a member of the NBA’s rival league, the American Basketball Association. From 1967 to 1976, the team was located in New York City as a member of the New York Nets. They played in New Jersey for one season and then relocated to Long Island, New York. Then, in 1977, the team returned to New Jersey and played as the New Jersey Nets until 2012.

In the summer of 2012, the team moved to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn becoming the first major sports franchise in the city since the departure of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Since moving to Brooklyn the team has qualified for the playoffs six times and made the second round of the playoffs two times (2014 and 2021). With a star-studded roster of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, the team is hopeful they can make a push to their first-ever NBA Finals.

The players that have made this franchise are stacked, especially within the last 20 years. From New York to New Jersey and now to Brooklyn, the team has had someone stick out. These 10 players are the best to ever wear a Nets uniform. The players are listed with the city they played for during their time with the Nets, which includes New York, New Jersey, and Brooklyn.

Honorable Mentions

Kenny Anderson

Kenny Anderson

Years in Brooklyn (New Jersey Nets): 5 (1992-1996)

New Jersey Nets: 15.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 7.8 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.2 BPG

Career: 12.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 6.1 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.1 BPG

Honors: All-Star (1994)

Anderson was taken with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1991 NBA Draft. With Derrick Coleman (No. 1 in 1990) and Anderson, the Nets had two sustainable building blocks for the future. In his rookie season, he was the youngest player in the league and averaged 7.0 points and 3.2 assists. By his third season, he enjoyed his best season with 18.8 points per game and was selected to the 1994 All-Star Game.

Anderson was eventually traded to the Charlotte Hornets in 1996 in a package for Khalid Reeves and Kendall Gill. When Anderson left the Nets, he was second in team history with assists. He ranks third today on the all-time list.

James Harden

James Harden Breaks Record For Most Three-Pointers Missed In NBA History

Years in Brooklyn: 2 (2021-Present)

Brooklyn: 23.4 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 10.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.7 BPG

Career: 25.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 6.7 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Honors: 2x All-Star (2021, 2022)

Since joining the Nets on January 14, 2021, Harden has been nothing but an All-Star. Harden cost four first-round picks and four first-round pick swaps, but he has made two All-Star appearances and been a huge factor in why the team believes they can make the NBA Finals now. In his debut, Harden recorded 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 14 assists. It was the first time a player in team history recorded a triple-double in their first game. He also set the record for being the first player in NBA history to post a 30-point triple-double in a debut performance.

Harden earned Eastern Conference Player of the Week once last year. There was also a stretch of 11 consecutive games where he recorded double-doubles. Harden was recently named to his 10th All-Star nod and his second straight with the Nets. If he can help the Nets win their first NBA championship, he will move up this list very quickly despite only owning two seasons.

10. Richard Jefferson

Richard Jefferson

Years in Brooklyn (New Jersey Nets): 7 (2002-2008)

New Jersey Nets: 12.8 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Career: 12.6 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Honors: All-Rookie Second Team (2002)

Jefferson never made an All-Star appearance with the Nets, but he was a key factor in the team making back-to-back NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. With the Nets, he competed in the 2003 Slam Dunk Contest and joined the 2004 Summer Olympics team. He went from backup small forward to Keith Van Horn to showing all-around defensive ability and all-around play. Jefferson was so valued that the team even traded Van Horn to make Jefferson the starter when Van Horn had

Jefferson played seven seasons with the New Jersey Nets and was a key element of their back-to-back Eastern Conference Championship teams of 2002 and 2003. In addition, Jefferson was a member of the USA Men's Olympic basketball team in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Jefferson competed in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 2003. Jefferson began his career as a backup to Keith Van Horn, but they trusted him enough to make him the starter in 2004 by trading Van Horn once he got into a conflict with Kenyon Martin.

Jefferson ended his tenure with the Nets as the second-leading scorer. He ranks in the top-10 in franchise history for points, rebounds, and assists. Had injuries not hampered numerous seasons, he would have likely finished in the top-5 for each of these categories.

9. Kyrie Irving

kyrie irving

Years in Brooklyn: 3 (2020-Present)

Brooklyn: 26.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Career: 22.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 5.7 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Honors: All-Star (2021), All-NBA Third Team (2021), 50-40-90 Club (2021)

Irving was forced to lead the Nets without Kevin Durant in his first season as Durant recovered from his injury. In his debut, Irving scored 50 points in an overtime loss to the Timberwolves. He became the first player in NBA history to score 50 points or more in a team debut. He also became the seventh player in franchise history to score 50 or more points in a single game. He joined Stephon Marbury as the only one to record 15 combined rebounds and assists.

Irving has dealt with a variety of issues that have kept him off the floor. On February 20, 2022, he sustained shoulder surgery, which kept him out for the rest of the year. Last season, Irving missed a long stretch due to personal issues but played well enough on his return to be named to the All-Star Game. By the end of the year, he became the ninth player to join the 50-40-90 Club with a line of 50.6/40.2/92.2. He became the fourth layer to average at least 25.0 points, joining Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Larry Bird.

8. Derrick Coleman

Derrick Coleman

Years in Brooklyn (New Jersey Nets): 5 (1991-1995)

New Jersey Nets: 19.9 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 3.1 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.6 BPG

Career: 16.5 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.3 BPG

Honors: All-Star (1994), 2x All-NBA Third Team (1993, 1994), Rookie of the Year (1991)

Coleman was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft after a successful college career. He then boasted a solid rookie campaign and won Rookie of the Year

Coleman was the first overall pick in the 1990 NBA draft after a successful college career. He had a solid rookie season and went on to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 1991. In his second season, Coleman nearly averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. With a young core and a solid head coach in Chuck Daly, the Nets made the playoffs in 1993 and 1994.

The 1994 campaign was Coleman’s best finish with the team. The Nets had made the playoffs for the third straight year, but Coleman averaged his second straight 20-point, 10-rebound season and was named an All-Star with teammate Kenny Anderson. One of his main highlights was that Coleman recorded a five-by-five, where you record at least five points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks in a game. He finished the game with 21 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, five steals, and five blocks. He is just one of 12 players to ever do this.

7. Vince Carter

Vince Carter

Years in Brooklyn (New Jersey Nets): 5 (2005-2009)

New Jersey Nets: 23.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.5 BPG

Career: 16.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Honors: 3x All-Star (2005-2007)

The Nets acquired Carter midseason on December 17, 2004. Carter produced some of his highest-scoring numbers with the Nets. He was also very durable, missing just 11 games in his first four seasons. The Nets made the playoffs three straight years from 2005 to 2007. With a big three of Carter, Jason Kidd, and Richard Jefferson, the team won the Atlantic Division in 2006.

Carter and Kidd became the first pair of teammates to record triple-doubles in the same game on April 7, 2007, since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in 1989. Carter finished with 46 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists, while Kidd finished with 10 points, 16 rebounds, and 18 assists. Carter was named a captain after the team traded Kidd to the Mavericks and held that role until he left in 2009. Today, Carter ranks third all-time in points in franchise history.

6. Rick Barry

Rick Barry

Years in New York (New York Nets): 2 (1971-1972)

New York Nets: 30.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 3.4 APG

Career: 24.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 4.9 APG, 2.0 SPG, 0.5 BPG

Honors: 2x ABA All-Star (1971, 1972), 2x All-ABA First Team (1971, 1972)

Barry owns the highest scoring average in team history. He played 59 games in the 1970-1971 season because of a knee injury, but he made the ABA All-Star team. During this season, he led the league in scoring with 29.4 points per game. He led the league in scoring in 1972 with 31.5 points. He led the league in free throw percentage in both seasons as well.

In his first season with the Nets, the team finished 40-44 but made the playoffs. The team was defeated in the Eastern Division semifinals. The following year, the team finished 44-40 and made the playoffs. The team shocked the ABA by defeating the Kentucky Colonels, who were 68-16 at the end of the season. The Nets then edged a 4-3 series win over the Virginia Squires to make the ABA Finals. However, the Nets were defeated by the Pacers in six games.

5. Brook Lopez

Brook Lopez

Years in Brooklyn (New Jersey, Brooklyn Nets): 9 (2009-2017)

New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets: 18.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.7 BPG

Career: 18.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.7 BPG

Honors: All-Star (2013)

While Lopez only has one All-Star Game to his name, he is easily one of the best Nets in franchise history. Lopez qualified for the All-Star Game in 2013 as a replacement for Rajon Rondo, but his legacy in Brooklyn goes well beyond that. Lopez is just one of six players to make 400 starts in team history. He has played the second-most games, owns the third-most minutes, and pulled down the third-most rebounds in team history.

On top of that, he owns several career records with Brooklyn. He has taken the most two-point field goals and made the most. He is also the career leader in blocks and narrowly took over the career scoring leader. Lopez’s 10,444 is just ahead of Buck Williams’ 10,440 career points. Lopez was subsequently traded to the Lakers and has since won an NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks, but he was a face of the franchise as the team transitioned to Brooklyn in its early years.

4. Buck Williams

Buck Williams

Years in Brooklyn (New Jersey Nets): 8 (1982-1989)

New Jersey Nets: 16.4 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.1 BPG

Career: 12.8 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Honors: 3x All-Star (1982, 1983, 1986), All-NBA Second Team (1983), All-Defensive Second Team (1988), Rookie of the Year (1982), No. 52 retired by Nets

After three years playing at Mayland, Williams opted to forgo his senior year and was drafted by the Nets with the No. 3 overall pick. In his first season, he averaged 15.5 points and led the team with 12.3 rebounds. He helped the Nets win 20 more games than the previous season and won Rookie of the Year. From there, he recorded three All-Star appearances in five seasons, establishing himself as the league’s top power forward.

During his time with the Nets, he ranked among the top-3 rebounders in the league, never averaging less than 12 rebounds per game. In 1984, the Nets made their first-ever appearance in the second round of the playoffs since the Nets joined the NBA. When Williams retired, he was the all-time leading scorer, but he trails in that category by just four points. Williams remains the all-time leader in rebounds though.

3. Kevin Durant

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Years in Brooklyn: 3 (2020-Present)

Brooklyn: 28.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 5.7 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.1 BPG

Career: 27.1 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.1 BPG

Honors: 2x All-Star (2021, 2022)

Durant missed one complete season with the Nets as he healed a torn Achilles that he suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals as a member of the Warriors. He made his Nets debut on December 22, 2020, and put up 22 points and five rebounds in a win over his former team. Nearly one month later, the Nets traded for his former teammate James Harden and he has looked like vintage OKC Thunder Kevin Durant.

Durant struggled with injuries in his first full season, but the Nets qualified for the playoffs with a 48-24 record. The Nets made the second round of the playoffs and pushed the Bucks to seven games. In Game 5, Durant recorded 49 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists in a comeback win. Then, in Game 7, he dropped 48 points, including a clutch two-pointer to send the game to overtime. However, the Nets were defeated and eliminated from the playoffs. Today, Durant is recovering from a sprained MCL but was named an All-Star captain and starter.

2. Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd Nets

Years in Brooklyn (New Jersey Nets): 7 (2002-2008)

New Jersey: 14.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 9.1 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Career: 12.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 8.7 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Honors: 5x All-Star (2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008), 2x All-NBA First Team (2002, 2004), All-NBA Second Team (2003), 2x All-Defensive First Team (2002, 2006), 4x All-Defensive Second Team (2003-2005, 2007), 2x Assists Leader (2003, 2004), No. 5 retired by Nets

When it comes to the NBA, the Nets benefited from Kidd’s leadership. Kidd led the Nets to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. Despite coming up short both times, the Nets would not have made it without him. In 2003, Kidd had his highest-scoring season with 18.7 points per game and he led the league in assists. He also made the All-Defensive Team and established himself as the league’s best rebounding point guard.

In the playoffs of 2003, the Nets recorded a 10-game winning streak, which included sweeping the Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons. However, the Nets fell to the Spurs in six games. The year before, the Nets lost to the Lakers. In 2002, it was the first time the Nets made it past the first round of the playoffs since 1984. Kidd remains the franchise’s all-time leader in assists, steals, and triple-doubles.

1. Julius Erving

Julius Erving

Years in New York (New York Nets): 3 (1974-1976)

New York Nets: 29.4 PPG, 14.1 RPG, 4.1 APG, 2.5 SPG, 1.8 BPG

Career: 24.2 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 4.2 APG, 2.0 SPG, 1.7 BPG

Honors: 2x ABA Champion (1974, 1976), 2x ABA Playoffs MVP (1974, 1976), 3x ABA MVP (1974-1976), 3x ABA All-Star, 3x All-ABA First Team, ABA All-Defensive First Team (1976), 2x ABA Scoring Champion (1974, 1976), ABA Slam Dunk Champion (1976), No. 32 retired by Nets

Erving is a critical piece of the franchise’s only two championships. Despite never winning an NBA championship, Erving led the Nets to a title in 1974 and 1976. He established himself as the most important player in the ABA, which included winning three straight MVPs before the Nets transitioned to the NBA.

In the final year of playing in the ABA, Erving averaged 34.7 points per game and was named the MVP of the playoffs. That season, he finished in the top 10 in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, free throws made, free throws attempted, free throw percentage, three-point field goal percentage, and three-point field goals made. Erving eventually won an NBA championship with the 76ers later in his career, but he is one of the most important players in team history. 


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