If the Brooklyn Nets were able to create a starting five featuring their best position players of all time, regardless of which period the players played in, who would that starting five be? This starting five can feature any player on the team after the Nets joined the NBA in 1976, so I will NOT be including Julius Erving and Rick Barry on this list.
My All-Time Starting Nets Five
Center: Brook Lopez
Career Stats: 16.8 ppg 6.4 RPG, 9 seasons with NJN/BKN
This position might have been the most difficult to select. There were several solid options to choose from, including Derrick Coleman and Jayson Williams, who played very solid basketball for the Nets in the ’90s, to old-timer Daryl Dawkins who was a dunk machine in the ’80s. I ended up going with Brook Lopez due to his consistent scoring and ability to play a true 5. The other players on the list were undersized centers and were better suited as Power Forwards.
A talented scoring big man drafted by the Nets from Stanford, Lopez’s 9-year tenure with the Nets often goes overlooked, as he was always one of the more quiet personalities on the team. Lopez offensively had all the tools to be an all-star center: post up scoring ability, great mid-range game, and he could even hit the open three on occasion. At his peak, Lopez averaged over 20 points per game for the Nets and helped with their transition from New Jersey to Brooklyn. The big knock on Lopez was and will always be his lack of rebounding, as he never averaged more than 9 rebounds per game in any season. Lopez was also viewed as “soft” on defense, and while he averaged more than 1.5 blocks throughout his career, he never struck fear into his opponents.
Power Forward: Kenyon Martin
Career Stats: 12.3 ppg, 6.8 RPG, 4 seasons with NJN
Yes, K-mart’s career numbers will not wow anybody. Derrick Coleman averaged more points and rebounds than K-Mart so did Buck Williams. Obviously, from a historical standpoint, Kevin Garnett is the greatest PF to ever play for the Nets, but he played for the Nets well after his prime. K-Mart only played in NJ for 4 seasons, but his presence was so significant in New Jersey I’m sure many Nets fans would assume he played there longer.
K-Mart was a pivotal member of the Nets teams that represented the Eastern Conference in back to back NBA Finals. Even as a limited shooter (his jump shot was one of the ugliest in the NBA) and undersized big man, Martin relied heavily on his athleticism and energy to score and make plays for his team. He brought an intensity to the Nets that was unprecedented and upon Jason Kidd’s arrival, quickly became one of Kidd’s favorite players to set up for shots around the rim. From diving for loose balls every night to high flying two-handed dunks, Martin was an extremely fun player to watch, and he always seemed to elevate his game during the playoffs (see his ppg and RPG higher in playoff appearances with NJN).
Small Forward: Kevin Durant
Career Stats: 27.0 ppg, 7.1 RPG, 0 seasons with NJN
Technically, Durant 100% qualifies for this list. While he hasn’t played in a Nets uniform yet, there is no small forward in the history of the franchise that has accomplished anything close what to KD has. Durant is a former MVP (2013 – 14 season), 2-time NBA champion (won Finals MVP in both), 4-time scoring champion, and a 10-time all-star. He is arguably the best scorer in the last decade, and he is just 31 years old. The Nets will await to see if Durant can return to an elite level next season, almost 2 years removed from the Achilles injury he suffered in the 2018 – 19 NBA Finals.
Shooting Guard: Vince Carter
Career Stats: 16.7 ppg, 4.5 seasons with NJN
VC joined the Nets in 2004 after 7 great years with Toronto and instantly developed chemistry with teammate Jason Kidd. The loss of K-Mart to Denver became a distant memory in the eyes of Nets fans, as Carter provided fans with highlight-reel dunks and alley-oops on a nightly basis. Two of the best Vince Carter plays on the Nets you will ever see: His reverse dunk alley-oop pass from Kidd in 2006 and his posterization of Alonzo Mourning in 2005. While the Nets never went back to a championship with Kidd and Cater, the pair gave fans several years of extremely entertaining basketball.
While one could make the argument that Carter was a small forward for the Nets, he and Jefferson shared wing duties and were interchangeable at the 2 and the 3. Other notable shooting guards that could have been selected include Drazen Petrović, who was becoming a superstar for the Nets until he passed away after a tragic car accident in 1993 and Joe Johnson, who was the leader on Brooklyn teams that went to the playoffs in the early 2010s.
Point Guard: Jason Kidd
Career Stats: 12.6 ppg 6.7 RPG 8.7 APG, 6.5 seasons with NJN
This one was a no-brainer; Jason Kidd is the greatest Net of all time and was the main piece during the franchise’s most successful run to date. From the time he was traded to the Nets in 2001 for Stephon Marbury to when he was traded back to the Mavericks in 2007, there was never a greater time for basketball in New Jersey. Always an elite passer, Kidd made everyone on the Nets better because he made the game easier for them. Whether it was setting up players like K-Mart or Carter for epic fast-break dunks to finding open shooters like Keith Van Horn, Lucious Harris, and Kerry Kittles for open three-pointers, Kidd always knew where his teammates were going to be before they got there. If you want to relive some of Kidd’s greatest assists of his career, many of them with a Nets uniform on, watch this video here. The man was an absolute magician with the basketball.