Though the New Jersey Nets haven’t had much overall team success historically, they have had their share of talented players.
From their days in the ABA as the New York Nets, several prominent guards have led the team.
With the recent acquisition of Deron Williams, the list of top guards in franchise history may need to shift around. However, since Williams has only been a Net for a few months and there will possibly be a delayed start to this season due to the lockout, it’s unfair to include him on this list.
Here are the 10 greatest guards in Nets history.
Kendall Gill arrived to the Nets in 1995 after five seasons with the Charlotte Hornets and Seattle Supersonics.
The Nets relied on him to be a major scoring force, and he fit the bill his first season. Gill averaged 21.8 points per game during the 1996-97 season.
It looked as if Gill’s career would blossom in New Jersey, but injuries took their toll.
Gill was a productive player while on the court, but wasn’t on the court enough to make the Nets a contender. New Jersey only made the playoffs once during Gill’s tenure, and they were ousted in the first round.
Gill ranks fifth in franchise history with 652 steals.
The Nets used their second overall pick in the 1991 NBA Draft to select Kenny Anderson, a point guard out of Georgia Tech.
Anderson played parts of five seasons for the Nets, in which he averaged double-digits in points each year.
Anderson’s best season came in 1993-94. As a 23-year-old, he started all 82 games and averaged 17.7 points and 9.0 assists per game.
He was known more for his passing ability, and ranks third on the all-time Nets list with 7.8 assists per game.
The Nets made three playoff appearances with Anderson as their point guard, but lost in the first round each of those years.
Anderson was an impact player, though his Nets career was rather brief.
Otis Birdsong spent seven seasons on some bad Nets teams starting in 1981. However, he was one of the few bright spots.
He averaged in double figures in points in all but one season—the 1986-87 season, during which he only played seven games.
His Nets career high came in 1984-85 when he averaged 20.6 points per game.
Harris made his living weaving through defenders in the paint, while acrobatically putting the ball in the hoop. He would also rack up assists on a nightly basis.
However, he sometimes was too fast for even himself, which led to many costly turnovers.
He was a 2009 All-Star, and was the team’s co-captain with Brook Lopez in 2010 before being sent to the Utah Jazz as part of the Deron Williams trade.
Kerry Kittles was the perfect complement to Jason Kidd. He was always open on the outside when Kidd was looking to dish the ball out, and Kittles routinely knocked down the shot.
Kittles spent seven of his eight NBA seasons with the Nets, and was a major factor in the team’s back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in the early 2000s.
He was never the team’s main scoring option, but he still seemed to score 10-15 points each night. These totals were aided by his deadly three-point shooting stroke. He averaged over 35 percent from the beyond the arc as a Net.
He ranks second in three-pointers made, seventh in games played, third in steals and seventh in points.
Bill Melchionni was well deserving of having his No. 25 retired in New Jersey.
However, he never actually played in New Jersey.
After a successful NBA career with the Philadelphia 76ers, Melchionni jumped to the ABA to play for the New York Nets.
He was a two-time ABA champion with the Nets in 1974 and 1976 and a three-time Nets All-Star.
He had a knack for feeding off great players like Wilt Chamberlain when he was with the 76ers and Julius Erving while with the Nets.
For his career, he averaged 10.6 points per game.
Like Bill Melchionni, John Williamson is one of the few New York/New Jersey Nets to have their number retired.
He was a rising ABA star for the New York Nets in the early 1970s. He started as a rookie, and the Nets wound up winning the ABA Championship that season.
Williamson would lead the Nets to another championship in 1976.
He was traded away from the Nets twice, but returned once. He finished his career with the Washington Bullets.
His Nets career-high in points came in 1978-79, when he averaged 22.2 points per game.
Vince Carter was supposed to be the final piece that would lead the Nets an NBA Championship.
Though he did his part during his five-year Nets tenure, the team just wasn’t strong enough to contend with the top teams in Eastern Conference.
Carter averaged over 20 points per game in each of his five Nets seasons. He was durable and provided leadership to a relatively young Nets team.
Carter is second in field goals made and points, trailing only the great Nets power forward Buck Williams in both categories.
While images of his powerful dunks as a member of the Toronto Raptors will always follow his career, Carter had some of his most productive years as a Net.
The story surrounding Drazen Petrovic is a tragic one.
After being acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers in 1991, he experienced immediate success with the Nets.
He averaged 20.6 points and shot 51 percent from the field in his first full season in New Jersey.
His numbers steadily increased over his three seasons.
Petrovic died in June 1993 in Germany right after the Nets had been eliminated from the playoffs.
He was a passenger in a car driving on the Autobahn highway. He was only 28 years old.
Though he was originally unhappy after his trade to the Nets, Jason Kidd quickly became the face of the franchise.
Kidd constantly set up his teammates with easy buckets, and was aware of what was going on at all times.
He was the catalyst that propelled the Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in his first two years with the team.
Kidd is the franchise leader in three-point field goals, steals and assists.
Kidd revolutionized Nets basketball, and thus rightfully deserves the spot as the Nets top guard in history.