The Brooklyn Nets first round draft picks have been used to get some pretty talented players over the past few years. Unfortunately they were mostly used by other teams to get those players because the Nets seem to love to trade away their first round picks. The Nets have traded away a lot of their first round picks over the years, including sending three of them to the Boston Celtics in the Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett trade. Even the picks they did retain, they either dealt the players shortly thereafter, or somehow managed to screw up their selection anyway. Perhaps the Nets are eager to get rid of first round picks because they so rarely turn into anything good for them. Or maybe they just have a front office that is not very good at their jobs. Either way, a lot of better picks could have been made over the years so read on and find out who else the New Jersey and Brooklyn Nets could have chosen with their past 15 picks first round picks.
16 Montrezl Harrell (2015)
Original Pick: Chris McCullough
Despite the fact that he was still recovering from an ACL injury he sustained during his freshman season at Syracuse, the Brooklyn Nets selected Chris McCullough with the 29th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. McCullough spent parts of two seasons for the Nets between stints in the D-League before being traded to the Washington Wizards in 2017. With his Nets career already over it is apparent that they should have gone with someone else. One player who has had a decent first two years in the league, and looks to be developing into a legitimate NBA player is Montrezl Harrell who was drafted by the Houston Rockets three spots later. As another power forward, Harrell could have better filled the same need that McCullough was drafted to fill.
15 Rudy Gobert (2013)
Original Pick: Mason Plumlee
With the 22nd overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft the Brooklyn Nets grabbed one of the many Plumlee boys who had just finished up a career at Duke where he earned second team All-American honors in 2013 and won a national championship in 2010. The Plumlee in question was the middle one, Mason. He had a decent two years in Brooklyn, becoming a key part of the rotation and averaging almost eight points per game. That fact that he only lasted two years with the Nets however, is a sign that maybe they should have gone with someone else. Another big man who has turned out to be pretty good is Rudy Gobert. The Frenchman went five spots later to the Denver Nuggets who sent him to Utah where he is now a key part of the Jazz team who are about to clinch a playoff spot.
14 Jimmy Butler (2011)
Original Pick: JaJuan Johnson
After being named consensus first team All-American, Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, and Big Ten Player of the Year in 2011, Purdue star JaJuan Johnson was selected by the New Jersey Nets who then shipped him to the Boston Celtics for the rights to MarShon Brooks. Johnson lasted one season in the NBA, while the guy the Nets got for him, Brooks, only lasted three seasons, two with Brooklyn/NJ. Either way the Nets could have made a better choice. The late round gem that was available at that point was Jimmy Butler who was taken by the Bulls three picks later. The Nets could have had him without having to trade up, and perhaps would have had a lot better luck over the next few years as a result.
13 DeMarcus Cousins (2010)
Original Pick: Derrick Favors
The highest pick the Nets have had since they selected number one in 2000 came in 2010 when they had the third overall pick in the NBA Draft. Although the 2010 draft had a lot more great players than the surprisingly weak 2000 draft, the Nets still somehow missed out on three players who are now among the very best in the NBA. The guy they selected at number three was Derrick Favors out of Georgia Tech. Favors did not even last a year in New Jersey before the Nets traded him away to the Utah Jazz where he has become an important rotation guy over the past seven seasons. The Nets could have taken Gordon Hayward or Paul George who went number nine and number ten to the Jazz and the Pacers, but the better decision might have been DeMarcus Cousins who is considered one of the best big men in the NBA.
12 Lance Stephenson (2010)
Original Pick: Jordan Crawford
Jordan Crawford spent one year at the University of Indiana and one year at Xavier University before he entered the 2010 NBA Draft. He was selected by the Nets with the 27th overall pick but was traded to the Atlanta Hawks for Damion James who had been selected with the 24th pick. Both Crawford and James played four seasons in the league, with James playing two for the Nets. Neither choice was all that special so the Nets would have done better going with someone else. They could have had Hassan Whiteside who went six spots later, but a better option might have been Brooklyn native Lance Stephenson. The NY schoolboy legend could have come home with the team two years later when the Nets left New Jersey for Brooklyn.
11 Jrue Holiday (2009)
Original Pick: Terrence Williams
Terrence Williams starred at the University of Louisville for four years, leading them to the NCAA tournament three times including two Elite Eight appearances. The Nets selected him with the 11th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Williams spent just over one season with the Nets before they traded him to the Houston Rockets in 2010. He played a total of four seasons in the NBA before continuing his professional career internationally. If they had a chance to re-draft, the Nets could have taken Jrue Holiday who was taken six picks later by the Philadelphia 76ers. Holiday has become a solid starting point guard, playing with the Sixers for four seasons before being traded to the New Orleans Pelicans where he is currently averaging over 15 points and over seven assists per game.
10 Brook Lopez (2008)
Original Pick: Brook Lopez
One of the Nets’ best picks and the one who has been with them the longest is Brook Lopez who they selected in 2008. After two seasons at Stanford University, where he was first team All-Pac 10 and third team All-American, Lopez went to the Nets with the 10th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. Lopez established himself right away as a rookie, averaging 13 points and over eight rebounds per game while earning NBA All-Rookie First Team honors. He improved his second year and has been averaging at least 17 points per game for the past seven seasons. Lopez was named to the NBA All-Star game in 2013. There were a handful of other solid players available but based on his career so far, Lopez was the Nets best choice.
9 Serge Ibaka (2008)
Original Pick: Ryan Anderson
The Nets had two first round picks in 2008 so after successfully hitting with Brook Lopez at number 10, they chose Ryan Anderson with the 21st overall pick. Anderson has actually had a pretty good career after starting slow, averaging over 13 points and 5.5 rebounds through nine years. Anderson only spent one year with the Nets however, so they did not get to enjoy his later success. If they had a chance to take someone else, one option would be DeAndre Jordan who went with the 35th overall pick to the Los Angeles Clippers, but with Lopez their choice at center, a better bet would have been Serge Ibaka, another power forward, who went with the 24th overall pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
8 Marc Gasol (2007)
Original Pick: Sean Williams
Known for his shot blocking prowess while playing his college ball at Boston College, Sean Williams was drafted by the New Jersey Nets with the 17th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. Williams played three years with the Nets between some stints in the D-League. He played a few more games with the Mavericks and Celtics in 2012 but has been playing internationally and in the D-League since then. In a re-draft, the Nets could have had a few decent players like Marco Belinelli or Wilson Chandler who both went within the next six picks, but their best option would have been to grab Marc Gasol who lasted all the way until the 48th overall pick when the Los Angeles Lakers selected him.
7 Kyle Lowry (2006)
Original Pick: Marcus Williams
The New Jersey Nets had two first round picks in the 2006 NBA Draft. With their first one they selected Marcus Williams from the University of Connecticut. Although he was named to the NBA All-Rookie second team, that ended up being his best year in the league and he was gone after four seasons. The Nets could have had Kyle Lowry who was taken two picks later with the 24th overall selection by the Memphis Grizzlies. While Williams played internationally in Puerto Rico and Russia, Lowry too had his biggest success outside of the United States. Fortunately he is still in the NBA with the Toronto Raptors. Lowry has developed into a three time All-Star and is a key reason why the Raptors have become one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference over the past few years.
6 Paul Millsap (2006)
Original Pick: Josh Boone
With their back to back picks in the 2006 NBA Draft the Nets chose two payers from the same college team. After taking Connecticut star Marcus Williams with the 22nd overall pick, they grabbed Josh Boone with the 23rd. This Connecticut star worked out about as well as the other one, as Boone lasted four years in the NBA, all with the Nets. If they had it to try again they could have selected Paul Milllsap who went later in the second round to the Utah Jazz. Milllsap of course has developed into one of the best players in the league and a four time All-Star. After seven seasons with the Jazz, Milllsap has been with Atlanta for the past four years, helping them make the playoffs three straight years.
5 David Lee (2005)
Original Pick: Antoine Wright
After three standout years at Texas A&M, where he was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2003, and first team All-Big 12 as a junior, Antoine Wright skipped his senior season to head to the NBA. The Nets selected Wright with the 15th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft. Wright spent three seasons in New Jersey, playing in about half of their games during that time before being traded to the Dallas Mavericks. Although the Nets could have taken Danny Granger, who was grabbed two spots later by the Pacers, their best bet in re-drafting someone would be to go for David Lee who was drafted by the Knicks with the last pick in the first round and who has had 11 solid seasons including being named to two All-Star teams during his career.
4 Tony Allen (2004)
Original Pick: Vikor Khryapa
Yet another player that the Nets drafted who was gone before the night was over was Vikor Khryapa who they selected with the 22nd overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. The Nets traded Khryapa to the Portland Trailblazers for Eddie Gill who they waived a few weeks later. Now there were not a lot of great players who were available after that but since the Nets basically ended up with nothing for their 22nd overall pick, any selection would have been better. Two players that did have good careers were Tony Allen who went with the 25th pick to the Boston Celtics and Anderson Varejao who went to the Orlando Magic with the 30th pick. Either choice would have been good, but perhaps having a defensive stopper like Allen would have been preferable.
3 Mo Williams (2003)
Original Pick: Zoran Planinic
With the 22nd overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft the New Jersey Nets looked internationally again and selected Croatian star Zoran Planinic. Planinic did end up sticking around with the Nets for three years, which was also the extent of his NBA career. He averaged just under four points per game with the Nets before returning to international play. If they wanted to go with a guard in 2003, the Nets could have taken Mo Williams who was taken 25 picks later by the Utah Jazz. Williams only spent one season with the Jazz but he has remained in the league for over 13 years averaging over 13 points and almost five rebounds per game during his career, winning an NBA title in 2016 with the Cavaliers.
2 Carlos Boozer (2002)
Original Pick: Nenad Krstic
After being drafted with the 24th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft by the New Jersey Nets, Nenad Krstic spent two more years internationally with Partizan Belgrade before coming over to the NBA. Krstic played well when he arrived, earning NBA All-Rookie second team honors while averaging 10 points and over five rebounds per game. He stayed with the Nets for four years, topping out with over 16 points and almost seven rebounds per game in his third season. He moved on to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008 and played four more years in the NBA. The best player that was still available with the 24th pick, who the Nets could have had instead, was Carlos Boozer out of Duke. Boozer has averaged over 14 points per game through his 13 seasons in the NBA with two All-Star appearances.
1 Bonus: Probable Top 3 Pick (2017)
Original Pick: Traded for Paul Pierce & Kevin Garnett
Trick question! The Nets have not drafted anyone with their first round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft because the draft has not happened yet. Oh yeah, and even though it will almost certainly be a top three pick and could easily be the number one pick, they are not going to draft anyone with it because it goes to the Boston Celtics as a result of the trade from 2013. Now they did get two probable Hall of Famers for the pick in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Unfortunately they were both 103 years old (approximately) when they got them. Needless to say they would love to have the pick back because they could possible select Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, or Josh Jackson who could all be future superstars. Unfortunately they will have to wait until the end of the first round to use a pick, after the most highly regarded prospects have already been snatched up by other lucky teams.