The Franchise Leaderboard series looks at active and franchise leaders in five major statistical categories-points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals- for all thirty NBA franchises. Running through two teams per week, we look at the marks set by all-time leaders for each franchise, analyze the respective trajectories of current leaders, compare how they stack up, and do a bit of projecting.
As in every preceding installment, each edition of the Franchise Leaderboard series comes with an accompanying disclaimer: While a great honor, long-lived and unforgotten in history books, franchise leaderdom goes a step beyond the intrinsic value found in efficiency and per-game performance. The name of the game, here, is volume—not only in terms of accruing a particular statistic as much as possible per outing, but also in terms of the number of outings you manage to appear (and accrue your statistic) in. Because, at the end of the day, whether you manage to score 32 points per game but only play in 50 games, or whether you only manage 20 points per game, but do so while appearing in 80 whole games, you are nonetheless left with 1600 points—no farther or lesser along the path to franchise leaderdom, through one season, than your counterpart. On top of all that, of course, is one more variable: the number of seasons, and hence, further outings, you manage. Use as many or as few as you want, but the franchise leaderboard does not discriminate. The system is simple: play as much, as long, or as well as you can or want. But the only thing that puts you above all others, here, is your total (be those points, rebounds, assists, blocks, or steals) and only your total. In short: get yours, by any means necessary. Nothing else applies.
With that (again and again) said, here are the current and all-time leaders for the third franchise we’ll look at through history’s lenses, the Brooklyn Nets:
Points: All-time- Buck Williams (10,440) | Current- Brook Lopez (7404)
With 10,440 career points scored in a Net uniform, Buck Williams headlines one of the league’s five franchise scoring leaderboards most likely to be overtaken by a current player. This is largely due to the fact that, like Buck, none of the top ten franchise scoring leaders—in a total or per-game regard—ended up lasting more than eight years with the franchise. That leaves Brook Lopez, the longest-tenured current Net, heading into his eighth year himself, as the likeliest challenger to the franchise scoring throne. However, while Lopez, on a per-game basis, has scored at a higher volume through his seven seasons than Williams did, one variable has proven to be key in tilting the overall scales—durability. These two players find themselves on largely opposite sides of that spectrum. While Williams, an ironman of sorts, rarely absented from a game during his Nets tenure, missing just one game through his first six whole years with the franchise, and only 21 in his eight years total, Lopez has not been so fortunate. While the big-man managed to appear in 246 straight games to open his career, he’s only appeared in 168 of a possible 328 contests since. As a result, Lopez has only managed 59.1 appearances per season over his time with the franchise, a mark that pales in comparison to Williams’s impressive 79.4 game-per-season standard. As such, the notable discrepancy in durability has accounted for a noticeable gap in the total scoring volume between the two players, giving Williams a noticeable edge despite Lopez’s superior per-game marks:
Across eight seasons with the franchise, an average season from Buck Williams consisted of 1305 total points—about 16.4 points in each of 79.4 games a year. Lopez, meanwhile, has managed 1057.8 points per season over his seven campaigns with the team. However, given recent troubles with major injuries, he’s only appeared in 414 actual contests, about five seasons’ worth of games. Despite that, though, if the cerebral big man manages to simply carry that 1057.8 point-per-year average over the next three seasons, he would surpass Williams sometime in April of 2018. Realistically, health should once again be the key factor in Lopez’s performance. Simple as it is, the longer he’s able to last on the court, the quicker he’ll get his hands on Williams’s record. And as long as he’s able to appear in about 75% of games per year for the current life of his current (3 years’ worth), history says Lopez will overtake Williams and etch his name atop the Nets’ franchise scoring leaderboard.
Rebounds: All-time- Buck Williams (7,576) | Current- Brook Lopez (3029)
Buck Williams’s outlook sitting atop the rebounding leaderboard is quite a bit sunnier than his future as the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. Grabbing about 11.9 rebounds per game over his time with the Nets, Williams paired his rebounding prowess with incredible durability, totaling 947 rebounds-per-year across eight seasons. Lopez, often chided for his propensity to come up short on the glass despite his 7-foot frame, has yet to come within even 235 boards of such an impressive mark. While Lopez is dually handicapped in this category, unable to compete with both Williams’s proclivity for attacking the glass and his uncanny ability to stave off injuries, he has nonetheless managed to surpass the rebounding totals of all but six players in franchise history. In truth, longevity is likely all that stands in the way of Lopez and second-place on the franchise rebounding leaderboard. If Lopez’s current pace is any indication, though, that is the highest he can realistically go. Williams currently holds a 3032-rebound edge over second-place-man Billy Paultz, a mark Lopez, now seven years into his career, has yet to even reach. As the graph below indicates, Lopez would have to go above and beyond his current pace to realistically pose Williams and his all-time rebounding mark a threat in the coming years:
Appearing in 59.1 games per season and grabbing about 7.3 boards per appearance, Brook Lopez has managed 432.7 rebounds, on average, in his seven seasons to date. Given that this total comes out to less than half of the 947 rebounds Williams routinely over his eight seasons with the team, Lopez would have to maintain such a pace for the next 11 seasons, on top of his seven campaigns to date, in order to top Williams’s mark. On the off chance Lopez actually proves more durable in the coming years than he has to date, playing in, say, 70 rather than 59 games per year—an equally risky and unlikely bet, given the projection assumes a relatively cleaner bill of health for a 7-foot big man in his 30s with a history of foot problems—he’d post about 511 rebounds per campaign, given his current 7.3RPG mark. In other words, over the next nine years—and into his age-35 season– he’d have to tally more games per year than he ever has, all while grabbing the same number of rebounds and logging the same number of minutes per contest, in order to actually top Williams’s all-time rebounding mark. While not the most unrealistic potential feat we have encountered in the Franchise Leaderboard series thus far, topping Buck Williams’s franchise-leading rebound total is firmly a long shot for Brook Lopez.
Assists: All-time- Jason Kidd (4620) | Current- Joe Johnson (761)
Midway through his fourth season with the team, Jason Kidd set the record for most assists recorded by a Net player since the merger. About midway into his fifth season, he set the franchise record for assists altogether. From that point on, he spent much of his court time augmenting the assist record that only two Net players in franchise history have even come halfway towards reaching. Alas, neither of those players is on the active roster. In fact, the active leader in total assists for the team, three-year Net Joe Johnson, is hardly 16.5% of the way towards sniffing Kidd’s mark. While this is partly due to unfortunate timing (the Nets acquired Johnson at the age of 31), the now 33-year old swingman averages about 36% of the assists Kidd did on a per-game basis. As the graph indicates, such a pace does not lend too kindly to Johnson, who firmly trails Kidd on a per-game, per-season, and overall basis:
In theory, Johnson’s only semi-realistic shot at actually topping Kidd’s franchise mark would be by significantly outlasting the future hall-of-famer on the court. Unfortunately for him, however, the formula for doing so is not particularly compatible with players who kick off their stint with a franchise at the none-too-tender age of 31. For Johnson to top Kidd’s mark, given his current 253.7 assist-per-season pace, he’d need to play well into what’d be a 19th season with the franchise. Given that Johnson has already logged a good fourteen years in the league, only three of which have actually been with Brooklyn, another sixteen years in the black and grey seems none too feasible. Over his time with the Nets, Johnson has made 77 appearances per season—a strong number for a player of his mileage—and picked up 3.3 assists per contest. For all intents and purposes, more of the same from Johnson, now going into what’ll be his age-34 season, ought to be expected. And unless he plans on carrying this pace through the age of 50, he won’t quite give himself the opportunity to overtake the franchise assist record. By all means, Jason Kidd should sit atop this category for a good few decades longer.
Blocks: All-time- George Johnson (863) | Current- Brook Lopez (724)
One of the most prolific shot-blockers of all-time, George Johnson tallied about 41.5% of the blocks with which he would later place 16th in NBA history as a Net. Perhaps most impressive, Johnson recorded his franchise-leading 863 rejections across just four seasons with the team—in his case, 305 games’ worth. On this level, Lopez simply does not compare. He’s never blocked as many shots per game, per season, or at a rate comparable to Johnson during just an average season with the Nets. That does not mean Lopez cannot be a factor in this race, however. True to the very principles of franchise leaderdom, volume is Brook Lopez’s best friend here. Though it’s taken him 109 more games to do so, he’s come within shouting distance of Johnson’s mark. To date, here is how Lopez’s slow-and-steady climb compares to Johnson’s torrid pace:
An average Geroge Johnson season with the Nets consisted of about 215.8 total blocks—an impressive 2.8 blocks per game for 76.3 contests per season. In comparison, a routine Brook Lopez season has thus far yielded about 1.1 less blocks per game, 17 less appearances, and 112 less total rejections. And yet, thanks to the aforementioned principles that be, Lopez is very much in the running to overtake Johnson as the leading shot-blocker in franchise history. Provided Lopez continues along his 103.4 block-per-season pace, he could realistically surpass Johnson’s mark sometime before the all-star break of the 2016-17 NBA season. Even still, in the event of a season-shortening setback, given the big-man’s warbly history with leg injuries in the past four years, his recent three-year extension with the franchise likely provides him more than enough time to etch his name above Johnson’s. By all indications, lest a trade or dilapidating injury irrevocably mangles Lopez’s shot at making history in Brooklyn, his aim at franchise leaderdom is more likely a matter of when rather than if.
Steals: All-time- Jason Kidd (950) | Current- Brook Lopez (232)
The second of two strongholds Jason Kidd maintains in Net history books, the all-time franchise steals record, currently most closely challenged by Brook Lopez, will not be changing hands within the next decade. Kidd’s 950 steals as a Net actually represent just about 35.4% of the thievery he committed throughout a career in which he poked away the second-most balls in NBA history. Brook Lopez, quite simply, does not exist in such a space. His current team-leading steals total is largely a function of his being the longest-tenured current Net, and his greatest steals tally, be it on a per-possession, per-game, or per-season basis, does not compare to Kidd’s worst. As the accompanying graph displays, his and Kidd’s proclivity for thievery simply do not inhabit the same plane of existence:
To date, Kidd’s and Lopez’s respective Net tenures have both spanned seven years. While Kidd’s term yielded a total of 950 steals in 506 games—1.9 steals per game, across 72.3 appearances per season (the last of which was cut short by a mid-season trade)—Lopez’s stint with the franchise has not lent quite as fruitfully to this category. Appearing in 92 less contests and poking away 1.3 less steals per game over a similar time period, Lopez has failed to even sniff Kidd’s mark, managing a relatively meager 232 total steals. At his current pace—33.1 steals in about 59.1 appearances per season—Lopez would have to play for the next 22 seasons, through the age of 48, to top Kidd’s mark. Were Lopez to manage a few more seasons similar to his most recent one (43 steals in 74 contests), he’d nonetheless have to maintain such a pace through the age of 43 to outdo Kidd. By all measures, Brook Lopez is not a particularly realistic factor in this race. Jason Kidd certainly figures to head this category for a good while longer.