Close your eyes and try to think of a memorable moment in Jason Collins’ Nets career. Maybe an emphatic dunk, or a clutch shot, or a key block of an opponent. What do you see? If your eyes are closed, you should see nothing. And if you open them, you’re probably still seeing nothing.
That’s what happens when you have a career Player Efficiency Rating (7.6) that matches your vertical leap. Search Jason Collins on YouTube, and outside of some mocking, “Jason Collins Dunks!” or “Jason Collins Blocks a Shot!” videos, you’re not going to find any remixes or fan videos. I guess there just isn’t a high demand of videos showcasing a player putting a solid body on an offensive player in the post.
Still, Collins is worth celebration. How could there be a “Top Nets” list without him? Did Collins ever have outrageous stats during his Nets career? No. He was not on the floor to score, and his two primary coaches, Byron Scott and Lawrence Frank, considered him a “defensive specialist,” despite producing middling to poor rebounding and blocks numbers. Some numbers even argued that Collins’s defensive impact ranked among the best in the league.
Twin’s game was not about stats, or at least that’s what everyone would have you believe. He’s arguably a benefactor of being in the right place at the right time, but he was a model of consistency nonetheless. In his 2001-02 rookie season, he was the primary back-up big man on a team that made its first-ever NBA Finals, and in 2002-03 he was the starting center for a Nets team that made it to its second finals. Twin went on to be the main guy in the middle for a team that consistently made the postseason, and reached the Eastern Conference semifinals three additional times.
Granted, all of those teams were Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin’s (and later Vince Carter’s). But Collins always came to work ready to play. We’ll never know how the Nets would have fared against the likes of Shaquille O’Neal or Tim Duncan if they had a Center who could put the ball in the hoop, like a Brook Lopez. But you can’t fight how much Twin meant to those Nets playoff teams. Make no mistake, he belongs on this list. Just take it from his coach: