The Nets franchise has been around for quite some time. It joined the NBA back in 1976 as a result of the NBA merger and relocated to New Jersey in 1977. The Nets played in New Jersey up until the 2012-13 season, when they relocated to Brooklyn, New York, and became the Brooklyn Nets.
During the Nets' four-plus-decades of existence in the NBA, they haven't won a championship. They have gotten very close to winning it all, though, as the Nets made the NBA Finals in back-to-back years in 2002 and 2003 but lost the two finals series to Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, and the Los Angeles Lakers and Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs.
Compared to teams like the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles, it might seem like the Brooklyn Nets haven't been a successful franchise, but the team has enjoyed its fair share of success over the years, especially during the 2000s when they were led by Jason Kidd.
With all of that being said, let's rank the top 10 greatest teams in the lengthy history of the Brooklyn Nets franchise:
The 1993-94 New Jersey Nets, coached by Chuck Daly, finished the regular season with a 45-37 record. This iteration of the Nets was led by star big man Derrick Coleman, as he averaged 20.2 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.8 blocks per game across 77 appearances during the regular season (all starts). New Jersey faced off against Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs and lost the series 3-1.
The 2012-13 Brooklyn Nets ended the regular season with 49 wins, tied for the third-most of any team in the Eastern Conference and behind only the New York Knicks and Miami Heat. Center Brook Lopez stood out as the team's best player, as he averaged a team-high 19.4 points per game to go along with 6.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks during the regular season. The Nets played the fifth-seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs and lost the series in seven games. Bulls point guard Nate Robinson averaged 17.0 points per game for the series.
The 1983-84 New Jersey Nets, coached by Stan Albeck, finished with a 45-37 regular-season record. Power forward Buck Williams starred on both ends of the court for this iteration of the Nets. He averaged 15.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game in 81 games played during the regular season. The Nets eliminated Julius Erving and the Philadelphia 76ers in round one of the playoffs before losing to Sidney Moncrief's Milwaukee Bucks in six games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The 2006-07 New Jersey Nets won a mediocre 41 games during the regular season, the sixth-most in the Eastern Conference. It was Vince Carter, not Jason Kidd, who was the best player on New Jersey's roster, as he averaged 25.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.0 steals per contest across 82 regular-season appearances with the Nets (all starts). The Nets beat Carter's former team, the Toronto Raptors, in six games in the first round of the playoffs, which set up a second-round matchup against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. But James and the Cavs eliminated the Nets in six games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The 2013-14 Brooklyn Nets, coached by former Nets point guard Jason Kidd, finished the regular season with a 44-38 record and as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. This iteration of the Nets was loaded with star power, as the roster featured Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett. The Nets were able to upset the third-seeded Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs, as they won the series in seven games. However, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and the Miami Heat made quick work of the Nets in round two, as they eliminated them in five games.
The 2005-06 New Jersey Nets won 49 games during the regular season, the third-most in the Eastern Conference behind only the Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons. Richard Jefferson, who was 25 years old at the time, starred for this iteration of the Nets. He averaged 19.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.2 blocks per game during the regular season. The Nets rallied from a 2-1 series deficit in the first round against the Indiana Pacers to win in six games, but Dwyane Wade and the 2006 NBA champion Miami Heat went on to eliminate the Nets in five games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The 2003-04 iteration of the New Jersey Nets, coached by Byron Scott, ended up with a 47-35 regular-season record, the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. Only the Detroit Pistons (54-28) and Indiana Pacers (61-21) finished with better records. Point guard Jason Kidd was not only the best player on the team but one of the best point guards in the entire NBA. He averaged 15.5 points, 9.2 assists, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game and played 67 games during the regular season. The Nets made quick work of the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs, as they swept them. But the Nets lost to Chauncey Billups and the Detroit Pistons in seven games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The 2020-21 Brooklyn Nets ended the covid-shortened regular season with a 48-24 record and as the two seed in the Eastern Conference. They had a star-studded trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, who all averaged 24-plus points per game for the Nets during the regular season. Durant was probably the team's best player, though, as he averaged 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 0.7 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game across 35 regular-season games. The Nets easily beat Jayson Tatum's Boston Celtics in the first round and eliminated them in five games. Brooklyn then played Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and lost that series in seven. If Irving didn't go down with an injury mid-way through that Bucks series, though, perhaps the Nets would have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The 2001-02 New Jersey Nets won 52 games during the regular season, the most in the entire Eastern Conference. Jason Kidd was New Jersey's top player by a wide margin, as he averaged 14.7 points, 9.9 assists, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.1 steals per game during the regular season and played in all 82 games. The Nets eliminated the Indiana Pacers in five games in the first round of the playoffs, beat the Charlotte Hornets in five in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and beat the Boston Celtics in six in the Eastern Conference Finals to secure an NBA Finals berth. The Nets proved to be no match for Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, and the Los Angeles Lakers, though, as Brooklyn got swept in the NBA Finals.
The best team in Nets franchise history, the 2002-03 New Jersey Nets finished the regular season with a 49-33 record, the second-best in the Eastern Conference. Jason Kidd was the best player on the team, but big man Kenyon Martin was probably the team's second-best player. Martin averaged 16.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game across 77 appearances during the regular season (all starts). The Nets cruised to the NBA Finals, as after losing two games to the Milwaukee Bucks in round one, they swept the Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons in the following two rounds of the postseason. And what separates the 2002-03 Nets from the 2001-02 Nets team that made the NBA Finals is that the former actually gave their Finals opponent a run for their money. The Nets lost to Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs but won two games during the NBA Finals, Games 2 and 4. Kidd was New Jersey's best player during the NBA Finals, as he averaged 19.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 7.8 assists per game during the championship series.