After playing 573 minutes for the New Jersey Nets, Damion James spent all of 24 seconds in a Brooklyn Nets uniform. Damion James’s Brooklyn Nets career is a shot clock violation.
36. Kris Joseph (1 season, 4 games)
Best known as an answer to the trivia question: who’s the last guy people think of in the Garnett-Pierce blockbuster trade?
35. Earl Clark (1 season, 10 games)
Rahway Earl was signed as Thaddeus Young insurance and spent the majority of his minutes firing 18-footers. That didn’t work out so well.
34. Brandon Davies (1 season, 7 games)
The guy the Nets got and subsequently waived to wipe Andrei Kirilenko off their salary cap.
33. Josh Childress (1 season, 14 games)
Childress actually came to the team with a fair bit of hope; he signed on at the end of the roster as an upside signing after two years in Phoenix. But Childress never really got a shot with the Nets and requested his release. It hasn’t gone well: he hasn’t played in the NBA since, and made headlines last October when he threw a vicious elbow at an opponent.
32. Jason Terry (1 season, 35 games)
There was so much hope for Jason Terry. He was the missing link behind the two superstars in the failed blockbuster: the dead-eye cold-as-ice shooter with an unending supply of bravado. But Terry’s Nets career started off with a bad knee and ended unceremoniously with a trade to the Kings, who he never suited up for.
31. Darius Morris (1 season, 38 games)
Darius Morris’s middle name is Aaron, which makes his initials “DAM.” This is probably the most interesting factoid of the Darius Morris era.
30. Jerome Jordan (1 season, 44 games)
I still think he should’ve played more. Any big man who can dunk, block shots, and shoot 86 percent from the line deserves at least a shot at a rotation spot. Just never clicked.
29. Cory Jefferson (1 season, 50 games)
He’s most memorable for two of the most cringe-worthy shots in Nets history: an 85-foot heave with seven seconds left on the clock and a 16-foot 23-footer. But beyond those mishaps, Jefferson put together a quietly solid few hundred minutes in his lone season: he had an athletic, springy energy the team’s big men otherwise lacked.
28. Tornike Shengelia (2 seasons, 36 games)
Shengelia, AKA the D-League LeBron James, played sparingly as an end-of-bench forward for two seasons. He was better-known for his nicknames (Toko Loko & The Tokomotive) for anything he did on the floor.
27. Jorge Gutierrez (2 seasons, 25 games)
Gutierrez was one of Jason Kidd’s favorites: the team looked at him in training camp, kept an eye on him after cutting him, signed him near the end of the 2013-14 season, and he filled in admirably as a third point guard. He last played in the NBA with Kidd’s Bucks. His highlight in a Nets uniform was probably a flagrant-2 foul on Cody Zeller.
25. Marcus Thornton (1 season, 26 games)
If it weren’t for Andray Blatche, Marcus Thornton might’ve been the runaway winner for the oddest player in Brooklyn’s short history. Affectionately nicknamed The Human Microwave and The Tasmanian Devil — in honor of his ability to heat up in an instant while simultaneously being an out-of-control whirlwind of destruction — famously had his Nets debut delayed thanks to food poisoning from lobster mac ‘n cheese.
Thornton averaged 12.3 points on 41% shooting over the final stretch of the 2013-2014 with the sense of unbridled shooting confidence the Nets hadn’t replaced since they traded MarShon Brooks. Although Thornton only played 26 games with Brooklyn, it felt like an eternity, for better or for worse. -Ben Nadeau
Brown has a chance to rocket up this list if he can start hitting his outside shot. He’s got crazy athleticism and all the tools to be a good defensive player, plus a relatively smooth shooting stroke. But he’s older than most second-year players, which means he’s got some catch-up to do.
22. MarShon Brooks (1 season, 73 games
MarShon Brooks’ NBA career peaked on January 4, 2012 in Boston, MA. Thanks to the injuries and generally low talent level of the New Jersey Nets, MarShon made his first career start against the Celtics. With Shelden Williams, Damion James, Mehmet Okur and Sundiata Gaines as his running mates, MarShon was tasked with shouldering pretty much all offensive responsibilities. So for two quarters he did just that. He scored 15 in the first half, and the Nets led the Pierce-KG-Ray-Rondo Celtics by one point heading into the locker room. And at that very moment, the NBA career of MarShon Scitif Brooks—at that point only six and a half games old—began its unfortunate descent into oblivion.
When we started putting this list together, I wasn’t 100 percent sure MarShon even made it to Brooklyn. So I checked the Internet and it told me that he did indeed play for the Brooklyn Nets, averaging 5.4 points over the course of 73 games. He also played a few cursory minutes in the playoffs, including 12 minutes in a game 3 loss, where he registered 2 points and a +10. So that’s kinda decent.
But 12 minutes of kinda decent basketball isn’t a body of work that will land a player very high on a list of basketball players. Luckily for MarShon, he’ll always have those two quarters in January. -Andrew Gnerre
21. C.J. Watson
It’s not fair that Watson’s year-long stint with the Nets, in which he was a mostly useful off-guard who hit corner threes, is reduced to a playoff series where he continuously fought Nate Robinson due to his scary beef with Floyd Mayweather and missed a series-defining dunk. But: he should’ve just laid it in.
20. Deron Williams (3 seasons, 210 games)
If we did this solely on merit and statistics, Deron Williams would be much higher. He does, after all, lead all players in Brooklyn Nets history in win shares, assists, free throws, steals, and ranks second in points, three-pointers, games, and minutes played. But if we were to rank these players on how much they wanted to be in Brooklyn and lived up to expectations, he’d probably be last.
Williams never seemed comfortable with the keys to the Nets franchise; we gave him a flat D+ for his final year’s grade (largely on the strength of his final great game, a 35-point playoff performance against the Hawks), and near the end it was clear he and the Nets didn’t want to be around each other anymore. So we split the difference. He goes just above C.J. Watson, only because C.J. Watson should’ve laid it in.
19. Andrei Kirilenko (2 seasons, 52 games)
When Kirilenko opted out of the final year of a two-year, $20 million deal with the Timberwolves to sign a two-year, $6.5 million contract with the Nets, it drew accusations of shady Russian dealings that the NBA had to investigate. Everyone thought the deal was a coup for the Nets. It didn’t quite work out that way.
Slowed by age and injury, Kirilenko had trouble staying on the court; when he did play, he looked like a shadow of the player that once electrified in Utah. Still, he was a useful player that found ways to contribute, and the 2013-14 Nets’ record in games he did play (30-15) was better than in games he didn’t (14-23). -Zach Fisch
18. Jason Collins (1 season, 22 games)
Jason Collins, who stayed seven seasons with the New Jersey version from 2001-2008, only played 22 games with the Brooklyn outfit last year, but he may just be one of the most important players in franchise history. The center famously came out following the end of the 2012-2013 season with Washington; then, Collins remained unsigned until the Nets scooped him up on a ten-day contract. On February 23rd, Jason Collins became the first publicly gay athlete to play in a professional game. Although Collins’ statistics weren’t always pretty, you knew you were getting three things from him every night: concentrated effort, five hard fouls a game, and unrivaled bravery. -Ben Nadeau
17. Thaddeus Young (1 season, 28 games
The only thing holding Young back on this list is time. He should vault into the top ten relatively quickly, and possibly the top five by the end of the 2015-16 season should all go well. In terms of pure talent, he’s one of the better players the Nets have had in Brooklyn; he’s also become the first Nets player to actually live in the borough, and his four-year deal should keep him on the Nets through his prime. If he fits next to Brook Lopez as well as it seems, he should be in for some nice seasons with the Nets.
16. Jerry Stackhouse (1 season, 37 games)
Stackhouse only spent one year in a Nets uniform, but immediately made his mark in two ways: first by having one of the oddest and hottest starts to a season by a 38-year-old in NBA history, and second by killing the national anthem. Brooklyn misses you, Stack.
15. Keith Bogans (1 season, 74 games)
On the surface, Keith Bogans wasn’t great. He was a marginal three-and-D wing player who did little beyond those two skills. But Bogans was an excellent “glue guy”: he fit in well with the starters, never complained about his role or about touches, and the team was better with him on the floor than without. He was a star in a supporting role, and doesn’t get enough credit for that.
14. Kris Humphries (1 season, 65 games)
For all the punchlines, critical remarks, and overall snottiness that Kris Humphries received over his three and a half years with the Nets, the oft-castigated power forward was one of the hardest working players the franchise has ever had. Want a player who will fit his role, rebound, and not make a peep? Humphries. Want a guy who won’t back down from Rajon Rondo on the road? Yeah, that was Humphries too. Humphries may have only technically been a Brooklyn Nets player for one year, but he put up a 14-point, 21-rebound game against Orlando in early November and you will never, ever take that away from him. -Ben Nadeau
13. Bojan Bogdanovic (1 season, 78 games)
After years of waiting and watching overseas film, Bogdanovic finally made it over for his rookie season last year. Though he started off the season with his fair share of struggles, he shined as the year progressed as an all-around scorer who caught fire in the second half of his rookie season with no qualms about letting shots fly. That confidence is what’ll make or break his Nets tenure.
12. Jarrett Jack (1 season, 80 games)
The ever-enigmatic Jarrett Jack typifies a lot of the things you like in a point guard — energy, leadership, ability to put up quick numbers — and a lot of the things you don’t. Jack put up some historically bad plus-minus numbers with the Nets in his first season in Brooklyn, but also put up enough game-changing performances to earn the starting spot after the Nets waived Deron Williams. How he performs in Year 2 will swing where he lands next.
11. Gerald Wallace (1 season, 69 games)
You can’t blame Gerald Wallace for the disastrous trade that brought him to Brooklyn. Gerald Wallace didn’t ask for the Nets to trade a lottery pick to get him. He didn’t ask for that pick to become All-Star Damian Lillard. He did ask for a four-year, $40 million deal, but you would have, too. Crash tried hard. He played tough D, dove headlong for loose balls, and made his fair share of highlight blocks. On a team led by an often lethargic Deron Williams, Wallace’s effort stood out. He may not have been worth the investment, but he’s worthy of his spot on this list. -Zach Fisch
10. Mason Plumlee (2 seasons, 152 games)
Plumlee, the Nets’ only first-round pick from their first three years in Brooklyn, was supposed to spend the bulk of his rookie year in the D-League. But with Brook Lopez’s season-ending injury, and KG’s season-long battle with back spasms and fatigue, Plumlee was thrust into a starting role. He delivered: the Nets were 16-6 in games he started. Plumlee shone as an athletic, low-usage complement to the Nets’ battery of aging stars. He may be in Portland now, but we’ll always have his game-sealing block on LeBron. -Zach Fisch
9. Kevin Garnett (2 seasons, 96 games)
There were only brief moments when Kevin Garnett felt like he belonged in a Nets uniform. In training camp during the first season, when he barked at teammates “you cheat the drill, you cheat yourself!”, and a few scattered moments throughout the year, as he and Jason Kidd figured each other out.
But even though Garnett’s tenure with the Nets will only go down as a blip in his otherwise stellar career, Garnett reinvigorated a defense that was near the bottom of the league, offered enough crusted veteran wisdom to last a lifetime, and hit that mid-range jumper and elbow passes with ease. Even a broken-down Kevin Garnett made an enormous impact on the Nets franchise in his time.
8. Reggie Evans (2 seasons, 110 games)
One of the loudest moments in Barclays Center history wasn’t a game-winner. It wasn’t a big performance from a star. It wasn’t even a close game. It was Reggie Evans hitting two free throws, sending Barclays Center into a frenzy. He’d fought his own free throw demons that game, as he’d been sent to the line over and over again by the Washington Wizards as Hack-A-Reggie commenced. But when he finally hit two, the place erupted. He raised his arms to the crowd and they went berserk.
That was the power of Reggie Evans. He was never the fastest, never the strongest, never the most skilled. He had few discernible talents beyond a raw appetite for rebounding, which led to some ridiculous statlines — seven games with 20 or more rebounds, a 22-point, 26-rebound performance, and an NBA record for best defensive rebounding percentage by a single player in a single season. But his gap-toothed smile, enormous beard, Pensacola drawl, and boundless, frantic energy were made him an fan favorite, night in and night out. Reggie Evans wasn’t a better NBA player than, say, Deron Williams. But he was a better Brooklyn Net.
7. Alan Anderson (2 seasons, 152 games, 1 friendship with Flava Flav)
His off-court contributions — namely his shaped beard, three-point celebrations, and aforementioned close personal relationship with Flaval Flav — aside, there is nothing spectacular about Alan Anderson as a professional basketball player. He doesn’t hit a high percentage of three-pointers, he won’t dominate a game defensively like Dwight Howard, and he’s not a wizardlike playmaker. But what Anderson did was a little bit of everything, which made him just enough of a threat that other teams were forced to worry about him. He was just good enough as a shooter that you couldn’t leave him open, just talented enough as a defender that the Nets could rely on him to take bigger assignments, and just good enough to hang around in the team’s rotation for two solid years.
6. Shaun Livingston (1 season, 76 games)
Livingston wasn’t supposed to be much of anything in Brooklyn — just a backup point guard brought in on Jason Kidd’s recommendation, meant to provide a guiding hand and steady minutes behind Deron Williams. But little did we know that Livingston would slot into the starting lineup and jump-start the most entertaining five-month stretch the Brooklyn Nets have had yet, inverting the floor on offense and defending just about anyone on defense.
Livingston rightfully jumped ship for his payday — and eventual NBA championship ring — with the Golden State Warriors. But given his likable personality and how far he’s come, he might’ve been the easiest guy to root for the Nets will ever have.
5. Paul Pierce (1 season, 75 games)
Paul Pierce thought his time in Brooklyn was “horrible.” But we don’t have those issues with Paul Pierce. Not when Paul Pierce put together a virtuosic performance that resulted in the team’s lone playoff series victory in their three years in Brooklyn. That block on Kyle Lowry that sealed the team’s Game 7 victory would’ve been enough to vaunt him into the top-10 alone. Add in Pierce’s big shots to seal Game 1 and his never-ending supply of quotables? That’s why they brought him here.
4. Mirza Teletovic (3 seasons, 165 games)
The sharp-shooting Bosnian had his third season in the NBA grind to an abrupt stop following the discovery of blood clots in his lungs during a January roadtrip. Now that’s been cleared for basketball-activities and signed with Phoenix, it’s unfortunately time to label Teletovic as another promising Nets player that just didn’t pan out. At times, Teletovic was brilliant, like his 24-point quarter outburst against Dallas or when he trolled LeBron James with a simple hard foul and smirk. And that’s what made Teletovic so great — when he was on, there was no NBA player more fun to watch. With his itchy trigger finger and brimming overconfidence, Teletovic was a joy to watch at his best. You can read the rest of The Brooklyn Game’s favorite Mirza Teletovic memories here. -Ben Nadeau
3. Andray Blatche (2 seasons, 155 games)
If you didn’t know anything about Andray Blatche, and then watched his season highlights from the first year in Brooklyn, you would be convinced the dude was on his way to the Hall of Fame. The level of offensive talent the man demonstrated nightly truly did reach some of the highest notes possible on a basketball court. His ball fakes could recall McHale or Rondo, his stepback jumper Dirk. And his fastbreaks were always plodding nightmares—either for defenses or his coaches.
But to say he was streaky or inconsistent would be dramatically understating his volatility. Blatche would oscillate from savant to clown and back again before his defender even had a chance to square up. Every one of his possessions was a galaxy of possibility—each dribble he took contained every fear you’ve ever had and every fantasy you can think of. Andray Blatche forgot better post moves than you’ve ever thought up. But he also remembered a bunch of bad ones.
One of the Nets’ biggest advantages in their first two years in Brooklyn was their bench strength, and Andray was a huge part of that, leading the Blatche Mob (consisting of guys like C.J. Watson and Keith Bogans) to better results than were really reasonable. He finished the 2012-2013 season with a PER of 21.9, the 13th best mark in the league—making the following list of names possible:
10. Kobe Bryant
11. James Harden
12. Blake Griffin
13. Andray Blatche
14. Anthony Davis
15. Kyrie Irving
16. Stephen Curry
What a beautifully deranged snapshot. That year, the Nets were the only team with three players ranking in the top 20 in PER: Brook Lopez in 5th, Blatche at 13th, and Deron Williams at 20th.
And if, after you watched that first highlight video, someone queued up a YouTube compilation of Blatche’s flaws in Brooklyn, you would see that he was a liability on defense, and never seemed to take anything seriously, and often ruined possessions by trying to recreate Starry Night from memory with two worn-down green crayons instead of easily initiating contact and drawing a foul. It would be an ugly video. But you would keep coming back to that first one, the one that showed positive contributions on offense too great to be outweighed by petty trivialities like help defense or good decision making. -Andrew Gnerre
1. Joe Johnson (3 seasons, 231 games)
Joe Johnson has been close to very good, and for the Brooklyn Nets, that’s enough to be the best. Throughout injuries and moping and 141 wins and low-impact playoff runs and four coaches and general disappointment, Joe has been the main reason that it’s not that bad here.
While his stats have been as pedestrian as his name—15.5 points on 43% shooting, 3.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.7 steals per game—he has been the closest thing to a superstar the Brooklyn Nets have had for the most cumulative minutes. Deron Williams had a few games, Brook Lopez had a few games, Paul Pierce had his moments, Andray Blatche a few quarters. But Joe Johnson looked the part more often than anyone else. He was the most important player in the Brooklyn Nets’ only playoff series win to date, where he beat up on Toronto’s young wings like an older brother dominating pool basketball on a summer afternoon. He had the stretch of games in January 2014, starting with the OKC nail-biter that kickstarted Jason Kidd’s redemption run and prevented that second season from becoming too much of a disaster.
In general, preventing the Nets from completely falling off has been Joe Jesus’ main role. And for the most part, he’s succeeded. The Brooklyn Nets are the Large Hadron Collider. I’m not sure what their purpose is, but the people involved claim they are important, and catastrophe always seems imminent. But Joe has been standing by, making sure every decimal point is in the right spot and everyone is wearing their safety goggles.
Joe also hit a bunch of clutch shots after arriving in Brooklyn, cementing himself as the guy who kept getting the ball at the end of games. This is surely an anachronistic way to measure achievement (and a fairly nihilistic long-term strategy on the court), but it also says something positive about how the team has perceived Joe’s talent and nerves. The guy who keeps getting asked to take the most important shots at the end of games is some sort of superlative, whatever that may be. While not the most advanced way of thinking, this gives Joe some “I know it when I see it” level of superstardom. And with the Brooklyn Nets’ lack of actual superstardom, degrees matter.
Spiritually, Joe Johnson has been the Nets true mascot—even before the Nets shipped the BrooklyKnight off to the big practice gymnasium in the sky. Coming to the Nets, Joe was couched in a stratospheric contract, six All-Star appearances and the promise of being the second half of a blue chip backcourt. This pedigree positioned him as a gaudy piece of Brooklyn’s business model, but Joe ain’t gaudy. Despite his garish contract and any brash claims made by the Nets, Joe has been nothing but an efficient, consistent, blue-collar employee of the Brooklyn franchise. And this has been enough to make him the best player in Brooklyn franchise history. -Andrew Gnerre