2. Bernard King
The Nets’ first draft pick as an NBA franchise was King, who was taken seventh overall in 1977. He hit the ground running by averaging 24.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.5 steals in 39.1 minutes per game as a rookie. He played in all 82 games in his second season and continued to produce elite numbers. King had the look of a future star and one of the best players in the league, but his time with the Nets ended.
The 6’7 forward was traded to Utah Jazz with John Gianelli and Jim Boylan for Rich Kelley. Off-the-court issues were the cause for the Nets trading one of the best scorers in the league for a rotation center. King would only play 19 games in the 1979-1980 season with Jazz as he was treated for substance abuse.
The Jazz traded him in the offseason to the Warriors where King again took off. He was a three-time All-Star and led the league in scoring in 1985. Most remember him for his four-year stint with the New York Knicks, but King played for five different franchises during his 14 years in the NBA.
Bernard King returned to the Nets for his final season, but New Jersey missed out on most of the best years from the Hall of Fame forward because they gave up on him too soon.