Nets Yearbook: Ranking the Point Guards

Time for another arbitrarily arranged list based on nothing but my opinion. Given the amount of interest generated by current Nets PG Deron Williams, I thought I would rank the top Nets point guards from years of fandom (1992-current). I’m going to exclude DWill from this list since he wasn’t even on the team for half a season. I’m sure the #1 choice for this list is painfully obvious, but hey, I invite all of you to argue about the ranking of everyone else:

Devin Harris: The most recent PG on this list has had the honor of having one all-star breakout season in 2008-09 sandwiched between being traded for two best-of-their class PGs in Jason Kidd and Deron Williams. The Nets looked to have gotten the best of their trade with the Dallas Mavericks when Kidd was looking like he was in the twilight of his career and Harris was averaging 21.3 points and 6.9 assists per game in 08-09. However, Harris gets the lowest ranking on this list for his flop of a season in 09-10, when he was the anointed “man” of a team that could only muster 12 wins. After being reunited with his old Dallas coach Avery Johnson in 10-11, Harris seemed to get some of his passion back, but that quickly dissipated as his name was being brandied about in trade rumors for Carmelo Anthony. So while 08-09 was very special, the Harris era is better defined for his inability to stay healthy (he missed 31 games between 2008-2010), the disappearance of his defense, and the organization’s worst season ever.

Stephon Marbury: I give Starbury the edge over Harris primarily because his individual numbers were better and more consistent, and he stayed on the court more frequently. However, the Marbury era was also marked by two losing seasons despite being surrounded by talented players in Keith Van Horn and Kenyon Martin, and general organizational dysfunction. Plus the Nets went from a bottom-dweller into a NBA Finals participant overnight once they dumped Marbury in favor of Jason Kidd. Throughout his career, I’ve never seen a PG accomplish less despite consistently averaging more than 20 points and 8 assists per game.

Sam Cassell: Where have we read this script before? The Nets acquire a PG at the trade deadline who had solid but unspectacular numbers and he goes on to have a breakout season his first full year with the team. But unlike Devin Harris, Cassell’s big 97-98 coincided with a playoff berth for the Nets. Cassell averaged 19.6 points and 8 assists in 97-98 and was the engine for the group that Slam magazine dubbed a team of the future. His on-the-court and locker room leadership also kept the inmates in check during the John Calipari era. After getting injured at the state of the strike-shortened 1999 season, the team went in the tank. And Cassell was later traded in a three-team deal that brought the Nets Marbury. They should have stuck with Sam-I-Am who scored fewer points, but hit bigger shots throughout his NBA career.

Kenny Anderson: Maybe this is more of a sentimental choice. Anderson may be best remembered for unreached potential. But he also was the best ball distributor not named Kidd to ever wear a Nets uniform, averaging between 8.2 and 9.6 assists over his three full seasons with the team. He never averaged more than 18.8 points per game as he in 93-94, his only all-star appearance in the league, but with guys like Derrick Coleman and Drazen Petrovic and later Armen Gilliam on the team, Anderson never needed to score 20+ for the team to win. His divorce from New Jersey was messy and painful, but he that doesn’t change the fact that he was the most entertaining PG I’ve ever watched until …

Jason Kidd: Was there any doubt? Back-to-back NBA Finals appearances, 50+ wins for the first-time ever, multiple all-star games, an MVP caliber season in 2001-02. Deron Williams can continue to put up the numbers his currently putting up and without those kinds of accomplishments, he still won’t surpass Kidd in terms of his overall significance for the organization.