New Jersey Nets' Rod Thorn and His Swamped Drafts
Starting in September, the New Jersey Nets will start their first season in ten years with a general manager not named Rod Thorn.
Thorn, who is often credited for acquiring Michael Jordan and Jason Kidd, is a legendary basketball general manager who has made poor decisions on draft night for the past decade.
2000 – Kenyon Martin and Soumaila Samake
The Nets held the No. 1 overall pick and senior Kenyon Martin was the clear-cut choice, even coming off a broken leg. He went on to be a key player during the Finals' runs and a big fan favorite.
One All-Star appearance with the help of Kidd, and Martin won his very own lottery by ending up with the Nuggets.
It turned out to be a smart move by Thorn as Kenyon has played in limited games since then because of two knees that won’t seem to get the job done.
Soumaila Samake didn’t do much other than “accidental” steroid use. It is believed he fell on the needle much like Barry Bonds.
2001 – Eddie Griffin and Brian Scalabrine
Thorn made his second-best move as Nets GM, trading Eddie Griffin for Brandon Armstrong, Richard Jefferson, and Jason Collins.
Jefferson and Collins both became Net regulars while Eddie Griffin bounced around the league until his tragic death in 2007.
Jefferson eventually became a casualty of New Jersey cutting cost while Collins wasn’t re-signed and lost much of his defensive presence due to injury.
Scalabrine turned out to be a good second-round pick, but just a few picks down, center Mehmet Okur was still on the board. Scalabrine eventually got a pretty big contract from the Celtics and ended up winning a ring before Kidd.
2002 – Nenad Krstic and Tamar Slay
The beginning of the European stage of the Thorn era as they picked up seven-footer Nenad Krstic from Serbia.
Though he didn’t come over for two years, picking who the San Antonio Spurs wanted paid off as Krstic eventually became a starter who had a bright future for the Nets.
But an ACL tear in his knee set him back to where he never fully recovered. After playing overseas for a year, Krstic came back and signed with the Thunder when the Nets decided not to match.
Slay didn’t do much.
While the Nets snagged Krstic away from Spurs management, they didn’t follow suit in the second round where Luis Scola was picked up near the end of the draft. The Nets have tried to sign him this summer.
2003 - Zoran Planinić and Kyle Korver
In a draft filled with star-studded talent, the Nets managed to find a way to pass over Josh Howard and Kendrick Perkins.
Another European prospect, Zoran Planinić came over right away and made little to no impact. Many thought he could learn from Kidd, but he was off the team in three years.
Kyle Korver was sold for cash but he turned out to be one of the better three-point shooters in the league.
2004 - Viktor Khryapa and Christian Drejer
Viktor Khryapa was drafted and traded right away to Portland. He managed to play only 143 NBA games, but with a player like Kevin Martin on the board, Thorn missed the boat.
Drejer never stepped foot in New Jersey as he opted to stay overseas. Many call him a wasted pick but with such a weak second round, he was worth the shot with his size and shooting touch.
2005 – Antoine Wright and Mile Ilic
Nets began to see the effects of bad drafting as they slowly faltered in the standings.
Thorn went with Wright over Hakim Warrick, who could have replaced the recently departed Kenyon Martin. Wright was a three-point specialist and pretty good on the defensive side of the ball.
Turned out Wright's shooting touch wasn’t as good as it had been in Texas and he was shipped out with Kidd. After a stint in Dallas and Toronto, he now finds himself with the Kings.
Wright turned out to be not much worse than Hakim Warrick but a certain All-Star by the name of Danny Granger was picked by the Pacers after him.
Mile Ilic was another Serbian center the Spurs were high on. Turned out Ilic was slower than former head coach Lawrence Frank.
2006 – Marcus Williams, Josh Boone, and Hassan Adams
The 2006 Draft began Thorn's idea of picking players with red flags. He called them low-risk, high-reward picks who were potential lottery picks.
Williams was brought in to be Kidd’s prodigy. A player who was suspended because of poor grades and stealing laptops in college, he looked like the real deal as he made the Rookie Game during All-Star weekend.
After that, things went downhill. He reportedly had problems listening to the coach and found himself traded after his second season. After a year in Golden State, he headed to Memphis where he currently plays.
Thorn managed to make up the pick by trading him for another first-round pick.
Boone suffered from a lack of confidence in New Jersey, a horrible free throw shooter who found himself being sent to the line so the opposition wouldn’t give up points. He is a good rebounder and has yet to find a home for 2010.
Hassan Adams was a fan favorite due to his flight dunks but never really had much talent and was undersized. He was released early in his tenure.
2007 – Sean Williams
Sean Williams was another potential lottery pick gone bad as his college had released him due to numerous violations. The Nets hoped he could put all his troubles behind him and turn into the dominant shot blocker he was in college.
His first year with the team left fans wanting more as he had highlight blocks and dunks that got everyone excited. He worked his way into the starting lineup but as fast as the praise came, he was into his second year with little improvement and in trouble with the law later that year.
He lasted one more season with the team before being released.
Williams is currently trying to make the Bucks roster through their Summer League team.
2008 – Brook Lopez, Ryan Anderson, and Chris Douglas-Roberts
Rod Thorn was given a present by the man he drafted back in 1984 as Michael Jordan skipped over the Stanford stud.
While it’s only been a short ride in, Lopez has already upped his scoring to just under 20 points per game while being invited to numerous USA camps. It looks like the youngster will likely be the face of the franchise heading into Brooklyn.
Later in the draft, Nets selected Lopez's soon-to-be best friend in Ryan Anderson, a 6’10" power forward whose range was past the three-point line.
After an up-and-down season, the youngster was involved in the Vince Carter salary dump that brought over Courtney Lee.
Anderson became an opening-day starter for the Magic, but suspensions cooled down his shooting touch. Still, with the Nets' struggles from beyond the arc this past season, he would have been useful.
Chris Douglas-Roberts was considered a steal of the draft as the Memphis guard had a killer scoring touch. He was given a shot while Nets' guards were injured in late 2009.
Douglas-Roberts put up excellent numbers but the team didn't win. He believed that they didn't give him enough of a chance, eventually asking for a trade that landed him on the Bucks.
2009 – Terrence Williams
Williams has still yet to prove what he’s got as last year he didn’t get a chance to play until the end of the season. He put up good numbers and continued that through Summer League.
While it’s unsure what role he will play on Avery Johnson’s team, he’s versatile enough to fill the holes and do the dirty work.
2010 – Derrick Favors and Damion James
Derricks Favors is definitely a long-term project for the Nets and risky pick at No. 3. The Nets could potentially have a superstar or another troubled bust.
On the other hand, Damion James, who was traded for during draft day looks like he could make an impact instantly. His four years at Texas have prepared him well for the NBA, but just like Favors and Williams, it’s too early to tell.
While we can’t forget the Finals runs, and the excitement they brought to Jersey, the fans still have hope that the best days are coming!
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