The Brooklyn Nets: The Worst Franchise in Recent Memory?

Jack Heineman

With the Boston Celtics securing the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Brooklyn Nets have officially become the biggest laughing stock in the NBA, if not all of sports. That first overall pick, as many of you know, originally belonged to Brooklyn.

Over the past two seasons, the Nets had the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference, with a winning percentage of just 0.25 pct. Only the Philadelphia 76ers had more losses in the East.

Brooklyn’s franchise started coming to a crash before anyone could see it. On June 28 after the 2013 season, the same day as that year’s draft, the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics agreed to a blockbuster trade that sent shockwaves throughout the league. Boston traded 15-time All-Star Kevin Garnett, 10-time All-Star Paul Pierce, sharpshooter Jason Terry, and a throw in of D.J. White. In return, Boston received five players total. The players involved had no significant effect on the trade, but it was the picks that Brooklyn sent with them that would alter the franchise’s future for years to come. Boston received Brooklyn’s first round draft picks in 2014, 2016, 2018, and most importantly, the rights to swap first round picks in the 2017 NBA draft. Boston, who finished the regular season with the #1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference, made the obvious decision to swap picks with Brooklyn, who finished the season with the worst record in the NBA. On Tuesday night the Celtics secured the first pick, leaving Nets fans thinking of what could have been.

The Nets now had two future Hall of Famers, a star point guard in Deron Williams, and the highest payroll in the NBA. Although a promising season, the 2013-2014 season would damage the Nets for years to come.

Garnett and Pierce’s success in Brooklyn was short lived. The Nets finished the 2013-14 season as the six seed in the East. The Nets failed to advance past the second round, falling to the Miami Heat in five games.

2013-2014 was Paul Pierce’s only season in Brooklyn, while Garnett only lasted one more year with the team. Brooklyn barely made it into the playoffs in 2014, making it as the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. The last three seasons have been a struggle for Brooklyn, including a losing record and missing the playoffs in all three.

The Garnett-Pierce blockbuster wasn’t the only thing that derailed Brooklyn’s future. In March of 2012, Brooklyn traded for forward Gerald Wallace from the Portland Trail Blazers. In return, Brooklyn gave up its 2012 first round pick to Portland. The Nets would finish the season with a 22-44 record in the lockout-shortened season, failing to make the playoffs. Portland now owned the rights to what would have been Brooklyn’s sixth overall pick. Although it is unclear who the Nets would have drafted with the pick, it is clear who the Trail Blazers took: Damian Lillard. In Wallace’s only full season with the Nets, he went on to average a total of 7.7 PPG. In Lillard’s five seasons in the NBA, he has averaged 20 or more PPG in every season except his rookie year, when he averaged 19 PPG.

Brooklyn isn’t the only struggling franchise in sports. Along with the Nets, there are some teams that could make compelling arguments for the worst franchise in recent memory. There are two teams that instantly jump to mind: the Philadelphia 76ers and the Cleveland Browns.

Philadelphia has had the most losses combined in the last four seasons in the NBA, with a combined .228 winning percentage. Although they make a great candidate for the worst franchise in recent memory, they have an extremely bright future. Philadelphia currently owns the third overall pick in this years draft, a spot that could land the Sixers a future star such as Lonzo Ball or De’Aaron Fox. And not to forget, Philadelphia still has 2016’s first overall pick Ben Simmons, looking to make his NBA debut in 2017. Simmons should be a star in the league for years to come, and with the help of rookie of the year candidate Joel Embiid, the 76ers are poised to make a run for one of the elite teams in the East within the next few seasons.

The Cleveland Browns, arguably the most compelling opposition to the Nets, have been an absolute joke in the NFL since they were declared an expansion team in 1999. Since the Browns moved from Cleveland to Baltimore and became an expansion team in 1999, the Browns have gone a combined 88-200. Cleveland hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2002 season, currently holding the second longest playoff drought in the NFL, only trailing the Buffalo Bills. Cleveland has failed numerous times to find a franchise quarterback, picking busts such as Johnny Manziel, Brady Quinn, Colt McCoy, and Tim Couch- to name a few. With that being said, Cleveland is making progress towards putting an end to the constant failure for the franchise. The Browns are now coached by Hue Jackson, who many believe is the right guy to turn things around for Cleveland. On top of Jackson, Cleveland is coming off a phenomenal draft, one that included three first round draft picks including first overall. With the picks, Cleveland took defensive stud Myles Garrett first overall, all around speedster Jabrill Peppers, and standout TE David Njoku. Cleveland did select a quarterback in the draft, taking Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer in the second round. Many scouts believe Kizer has the potential to develop into the solid starting quarterback Cleveland has been looking for since their return to the league in 1999. With young talent on the way and a solid defense, Cleveland could be due for more success in the near future.

Unlike the 76ers and the Browns, the Nets have no promise at all. Brooklyn does not own the first overall pick in 2017, and Boston owns the rights to Brooklyn’s 2018 first round pick, one that will probably be another projected top three pick. With a weak fanbase and a team lacking any young talent, the Brooklyn Nets and their fans are in for a long ride.

To sum it all up, the Brooklyn Nets are the worst franchise in sports.




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