The Top 5 Best and Worst Brooklyn Nets Draft Picks Since 2000
Beyond a meager second-rounder, Brooklyn Nets fans will be left to dwell on draft days past this year. Which is why we’re running down the five best and worst picks Brooklyn (nee New Jersey) has made since 2000.
Spoiler alert: It’s not pretty.
If the 2014 NBA draft were a party—the biggest and best in years, by most estimations—the Nets didn’t get the invite.
Actually, they somehow managed to disinvite themselves.
After trading a slew of picks and oodles of cap space to the Boston Celtics for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce last summer, the Nets gave themselves little in the way of a consolation prize in the event they didn’t win a title.
Well, they didn’t, and now Brooklyn stands to be on the outside looking in when Adam Silver takes the podium Thursday night. Unless, that is, it's somehow able to buy its way into Round 1, a scenario Nets Daily's Reed Wallach sees as highly unlikely:
With many teams looking to acquire a pick, it becomes even more difficult for the Nets to acquire one. In the last few days alone, the Pelicans are said to be "aggressively" trying to get into the first round. As noted before the Knicks are "desperate" and are working out prospects slated for the mid-20's in the first round. Gary Washburn reports that from what he has gathered,"expect the Celtics to trade to get back into the second round."
Moreover, the Nets only have $2 million to spend on a pick this season, and the more valuable a pick becomes, the higher the price. Despite all that, the Nets can still acquire a pick, Billy King has said. There are several teams with a substantial amount of picks and could be looking to get better now.
Bad Pick: Terrence Williams (No. 11, 2009)
Back in 2009, it was hard not to be tempted by Terrence Williams, the hyper-versatile, four-year swingman out of the University of Louisville.
Anyone who charts that kind of consistency under a taskmaster like Rick Pitino, the thinking went, is bound to have the mental moxie to make it in the Association.
Five years later, Williams’ star has all but burnt out, the product of unfortunate circumstances and a classic “tweener” game ripe for the bad fit.
What’s worse, Brooklyn’s pick meant passing on the following players: Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson, just to name a few.
Today, Williams seems ready to admit he didn't exactly put his best foot forward three years ago, per ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg:
That's what made everything go downhill -- not being a professional. I was young, 20-whatever, money, and not really caring. I cared about playing basketball, but I didn't care about putting the work into basketball. Now, if you go to China even for a day, you learn how to be a professional. You want to come back so fast.
It’s not the worst swing-and-a-miss that happened that draft day (an honor that may belong to the New York Knicks), but Williams’ early selection goes to show that, even in an age of one-and-done prospects, four solid years with an elite program doesn’t necessarily make an NBA prospect.
Good Pick: Kenyon Martin (No. 1, 2000)
The 2000 draft is widely considered one of the worst—if not the worst—in NBA history, and probably the sole reason Kenyon Martin ever wound up going No. 1 in the first place.
Then again, Martin’s resume speaks for itself: 12.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks over 14 solid seasons—including two straight trips to the NBA Finals in 2001-02 and 2002-03.
Jason Kidd will forever be the face of those East-dominating teams, but Martin’s hustle, energy and defensive presence were arguably just as indispensable.
That Martin was taken first overall despite having broken his leg just months earlier speaks not only to that draft class’ weakness but to just how unlikely K-Mart’s surefire career really was.
For a guy who made a living on freakish athleticism and running the floor with reckless abandon, Martin’s 14-year career stands as a happy anecdotal counter to so many stories of can’t-miss prospects-turned-busts.
Bad Pick: Sean Williams (No. 17, 2007)
It’s not like the Nets didn’t know what they were getting—or could've been getting—when they drafted 6’10” shot-blocking machine Sean Williams with the No. 17 pick in 2007. Indeed, Williams was suspended twice in three seasons at Boston College, including once for marijuana possession.
That said, the upside was hard to ignore: a potential defensive behemoth in waiting (he was as good at timing blocked shots as anyone) with enough rudimentary offensive skills to look past the weaknesses—on court and otherwise.
Sadly, Williams was arrested again in early 2009, prematurely derailing what could easily have been a promising NBA career.
Williams has suited up in just 42 NBA games since, and as of the 2013-14 season, he was making his way, playing ball in Turkey.
In the end, Brooklyn’s gamble on Williams was less about the safer prospects it passed up—although Wilson Chandler, Arron Afflalo, Tiago Splitter, Marc Gasol and Ramon Sessions were all taken later—than the inherent risks of high upside coupled with questionable character.
Good Pick: Brook Lopez (No. 10, 2008)
With the NBA already well into a guard-focused positional revolution, you could argue taking Brook Lopez with the No. 10 pick in 2008—skilled as he was—was as risk-laden as it gets.
Six years later, Lopez has emerged as a top-five center and arguably the most offensively gifted pivot in the game. And though his injury history is cause for some concern, Lopez’s uniquely ground-bound game ought to put Nets fans at least somewhat at ease.
The one knock on Brooklyn’s lumbering big is, of course, his rebounding—or lack thereof. Indeed, Lopez has yet to tally more than 9.6 rebounds per 36 minutes. And that was in his rookie season. All the same, it’s hard to argue with a career PER of 20.6, particularly at the center position.
Time will tell whether Lopez can be the kind of franchise cornerstone capable of taking his team to the Promised Land. But as sheer draft-day gambles go, it’s hard to argue the Nets didn’t hit this one out of the park.
Bad Pick: Antoine Wright (No. 15, 2005)
Let’s be clear: Lots of teams whiffed on the 2005 draft. Such was the nature of the crop. It just so happens that the Nets were one of them.
In three years at Texas A&M, Antoine Wright established himself as one of the Big 12’s premier scorers—a smooth shooter who figured to translate immediately and effectively at the next level.
Only…not so much. In six NBA seasons (two-and-a-half of which he spent with the Nets), Wright tallied averages of 5.4 points and 2.3 rebounds on 41 percent shooting (including 30 percent from deep). This, after finishing with a collegiate career 38 percent three-point clip.
Players Brooklyn bypassed include Danny Granger, Gerald Green, Nate Robinson, Jarrett Jack, David Lee and Monta Ellis, to name a few. None of them are future Hall of Famers of course, but it’s certainly worth appreciating the depth to be had in what has otherwise been considered one of the weaker drafts in memory.