The NBA Draft is a rebirth: a chance to start a new, welcome a new member to your team and hopefully add a piece to the puzzle that is the NBA Championship.
The draft has grown to be so big now, that it is almost a season unto itself. Not only do teams have to find out information on the best college players in the game, but the search has now gone global as some of the games best and brightest stars are playing in other countries.
With that, I bring you the Top Five Draft Moments of the New Jersey Nets. Since the Nets joined the NBA in 1977 they have had 16 top 10 picks. Of those 16, six were selected as All-Stars.
The draft is supposed to be used to change the fortune of your team around, or if lucky enough, add crucial pieces to what is an already evolving winning team. Let's see how the Nets have done.
Cutting the list down to five was pretty hard and I'd feel remiss to leave some of these out. So here you go, the honorable mentions.
1983, Third Overall - Dennis Hopson, SF, Ohio State
- One of the Nets worst choices in franchise history because of who they passed over. A few all-stars and two surefire Hall of Famers. Scottie Pippen, Reggie Miller, Horace Grant, Kevin Johnson and Mark Jackson.
1994, 14th overall - Yinka Dare, C, George Washington University
- The 7'1" Nigerian player was drafted by the Nets after a modest college career which he averaged 13.8 ppg and 10.7 rpg. He is best known for notoriety.
In his first full season as a pro, Dare turned the ball over 72 times without registering an assist. He still holds the NBA record for most consecutive minutes played without an assist.
1995 ninth overall - Ed O'Bannon, SF, UCLA
- Was drafted ninth overall by the Nets after leading UCLA to a National Championship. However O'Bannon was able to last in the league just three years.
The Nets passed over Kurt Thomas, Brent Barry, Theo Ratliff and Mike Finley to draft O'Bannon.
2005 15th overall - Antoine Wright, SF, Texas A&M
- In desperate need of shooting the Nets took Wright he was a known shooter coming out of college.
Never able to find his stroke and perhaps frustrated playing behind Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter, Wright lasted just three years with the Nets. The Nets passed up Danny Granger and David Lee in that draft.
1977, seventh overall - Bernard King, SF, Tennesee
- Perhaps one of the only thing stopping King from being one of the All-Time greats was injury. King still is known as a prolific scorer and played five seasons with the Nets, in two different stints.
1997 - Draft day trade for Keith Van Horn
- The Nets selected Tim Thomas seventh overall but immediately swapped with the 76ers for Keith Van Horn. Van Horn was a key member of the Nets two trips to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.
2002, 24th overall - Nenad Krstic
- Picking late in the draft after a good season the Nets drafted Krstic a player from Europe and kept him stashed there for a few years. Krstic when he came over was key in the Nets second wave of playoff runs.
2008, 10th overall - Brook Lopez, C, Stanford
- The optimistic Nets fan in me hopes that Brook will be in the top five someday, but for right now he is not. Brook, however did provide plenty of Nets fans with something to look forward to in his debut season. His size and soft touch combined with his ability to block and alter shots makes him a huge piece for the Nets in future years.
Moment number five is the Nets winning the draft lottery in the year 2000 despite having just a 6.3 percent chance of winning it.
The Nets though picked one of the worst classes to win the lottery with. With their pick coming down to either Kenyon Martin or Darius Miles the Nets went with Martin.
Martin though maybe didn't put up production you would want from a No. 1 pick, he was no bust either. The power forward brought the Nets toughness and defense and was a perfect running mate for teammate/point guard Jason Kidd.
Martin started to become a fan favorite and brought an energy and flair the Nets have still yet to replace. Martin was named an All-Star in 2003 and was the Nets second option in their two runs to the NBA Finals.
Moment number four comes in the year 1981 when the Nets drafted one of their best players in franchise history, Buck Williams.
Buck a power forward played eight strong years with the Nets and began contributing right away. In his first season with the Nets, he averaged 15.5 points and led the team with 12.3 rebounds per game, helping New Jersey win 20 more games (a 44-38 win-loss record) than the previous year and earning 1982 Rookie of the Year honors.
Buck also was a key member of the Nets first NBA playoff series win in 1984. Buck Williams was honored by the Nets in 1999 when the retired his No. 52 jersey to the rafters.
After years of losing the Nets finally got some good fortune on their side winning the lottery in 1990 and having the second overall pick in 1991.
In 1990 the Nets selected first overall who they thought would be the foundation of their franchise for the next 10 years in Derrick Coleman.
Coleman, a power forward from Syracuse had the rare combination of size and skill (Michael Beasely drew many comparisons to Coleman).
To get an idea of the unique skill set Coleman had, take a look at this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekAfz4deGL8). With those gifts Coleman should have had a long career in the NBA.
Coleman, however, did not realize his full potential for reasons such as poor work habit and alcohol abuse. After a falling out with then coach Butch Beard Coleman was traded in 1995 for Shawn Bradley.
Kenny Anderson was selected by the Nets in 1991 with the second overall pick. The Nets now thought they had a potent inside outside combination. This did pan out though for the Nets.
Anderson, the PG from Georgia Tech was considered a prodigy as early as 12 years old. In his third season as a Net he proved what he can really do putting up 18.8 ppg with 9.6 apg while being selected to the All-Star team.
Much like Coleman though Anderson did not fully realize his amazing potential and was stuck with the label of being injury prone. He was traded to the Charlotte Hornets in 1996.
In one of the more savvier moves of the past few drafts, Nets GM Rod Thorn was able to swing a deal with the Houston Rockets sending Eddie Griffin in exchange for the rights to Richard Jefferson and Jason Collins.
Both players were contributors for the Nets in their most successful run in the NBA from 2001-2008.
Collins a C from Stanford was known as the ultimate professional. Though he had limited skills Collins was a master in doing the little things and also was able to defend opposing post players well.
Jefferson a SF from Arizona was a starter for the Nets in every season but his rookie season and was one of the more popular players in franchise history. Before leaving the Nets he passed Kerry Kittles as the second All-Time leading scorer in Nets history.
In the ultimate "What If" scenario for any Nets fan the Nets decided not to draft Kobe Bryant and instead selected Kerry Kittles.
While Kittles was one of the better Nets players in franchise history the impact of not selecting Kobe Bryant has been evident as Bryant now has gone on to win four NBA Championships.
While the story is covered in length here (http://www.northjersey.com/sports/nets/OConnor_Kobe_was_almost_a_Net.html?page=all) the Nets were scared away from Bryant's threat to play in Italy if chosen by the Nets.
Kobe Bryant wasn't the only MVP the Nets passed on in that loaded 1996 draft. They also could have chosen Steve Nash.