The Brooklyn (New Jersey) Nets have had their successes and failures throughout the franchise’s history, including making the NBA Finals twice with Jason Kidd and also making some of the worst draft mistakes in the league’s history. Looking back at the draft choices made by the Nets, there are 5 glaring decisions that may have altered their future forever.
It is very easy to look at the Nets now and shrug off past draft mistakes. After all, the team has 3 superstar players in Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving and look primed for a Finals berth in the East. But the Nets could have had a superteam a long time ago, had they made the correct draft decisions. Here are the 5 biggest draft mistakes made by the Brooklyn (New Jersey) Nets throughout their history.
5. 2010 NBA Draft
Derrick Favors (No. 3 Pick) Over DeMarcus Cousins (No. 5 Pick)
With the No. 3 pick in the 2010 Draft, the Nets chose a 6’9” power forward over a 6’10” center with incredible size and skill. Favors was considered a great choice at the time because of his size, but there was no way he would be as dominant as Cousins. Favors was too undersized as a center, and not mobile enough to be a stretch four. This was clearly a mistake by the Nets almost 12 years ago.
DeMarcus Cousins, before his injuries, became a 4-time All-Star with some of the best skills a center can have. Cousins could pass, score inside, space the floor, and rebound at a high level. Cousins did not play as long as Favors did, but the big man has career averages of 20.4 PPG and 10.6 RPG while Favors only averages 10.8 PPG and 7.2 RPG.
4. 1988 NBA Draft
Chris Morris (No. 3 Pick) Over Mitch Richmond (No. 4 Pick)
The New Jersey Nets made a mistake by failing to grab Mitch Richmond, a Hall of Fame shooting guard who went No. 5. Instead, the Nets went for Chris Morris, a 6’8” small forward who had a respectable career although unspectacular. Morris played 7 seasons for the Nets, averaged 13.3 PPG and 4.7 RPG in 29.9 MPG. These are respectable numbers for a player drafted so high.
But Richmond was a bonafide All-Star in his prime. The shooting guard had career averages of 21.0 PPG on 38.8% shooting from three and made a total of 6 All-Star Teams and 5 All-NBA Teams throughout his career. Of course, the Nets missed out on the Rookie of the Year because Richmond won the award averaging 22.0 PPG.
3. 1997 NBA Draft
Tim Thomas (No. 7 Pick) Over Tracy McGrady (No. 9 Pick)
Tracy McGrady was one of the biggest draft gems in NBA history, falling to No. 9 despite being one of the greatest talents we had ever seen. The Nets made that mistake, going for a 6’10” forward over a very raw 6’8” teenager. Thomas never even played a game for the Nets, starting his first season with the Philadelphia 76ers.
McGrady went on to have 3 unspectacular seasons before winning Most Improved Player and averaged 26.8 PPG. McGrady with the Nets would have made them a championship contender because the likes of Jason Kidd was on the roster. McGrady is now a Hall of Famer and the Nets missed a chance to form a superteam with one of the great scorers of all time.
2. 1987 NBA Draft
Dennis Hopson (No. 3 Pick) Over Scottie Pippen (No. 5 Pick)
In 1987, the Brooklyn Nets had a shot to draft a future 6-time NBA champion and one of the greatest perimeter defenders we have ever seen. Scottie Pippen fell right into Chicago’s hands, helping Michael Jordan form a dynasty that won 6 championships. If the Nets could go back, they would have selected Pippen to be their franchise cornerstone.
Many believe that Pippen reached Hall of Fame status thanks to the leadership of Michael Jordan, but there is no doubt he had All-Star skills in an athletic body. The Nets would have also prevented Chicago from dominating the NBA for multiple years, something that would have altered NBA history. Instead, New Jersey selected Dennis Hopson who only lasted 3 seasons with the team.
1. 1996 NBA Draft
Kerry Kittles (No. 8 Pick) Over Kobe Bryant (No. 13 Pick)
Kerry Kittles was selected with the No. 8 pick, a great choice because the 6’5” shooting guard made the All-Rookie Team averaging 16.4 PPG. Kittles was also on the New Jersey Nets starting lineup when Jason Kidd led the team to the Finals twice. As a two-way guard who could score and defend, Kittles was easily a starting-caliber player.
But imagine if Jason Kidd had Kobe Bryant, one of the top-10 players who has ever played the game. Bryant is a massive step up from Kittles because he was an unstoppable scorer and one of the best defenders at his position. Bryant and Kidd would have been the best backcourt duo in the league, and the Nets would have never lost to a Kobe Bryant-less Lakers squad in the 2002 Finals and probably would have had a better shot against the Spurs in 2003. Out of all the mistakes made by the Nets, missing out on Kobe Bryant surely haunts them to this day.
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