13. Sam Cassell
Cassell was drafted in the late first round in 1993 by the Rockets, and he helped Houston win back-to-back championships in his first two years in the league. Entering his prime, the 6’3 guard was ready for more minutes, but he needed the right opportunity. Cassell was traded three times in six months from Aug. 1996 to Feb. 1997 with the final deal landing him on the Nets.
He played the final 23 games of the 1996-1997 season with New Jersey where he averaged 19.3 points, 6.5 assists, and 1.6 steals in 33.8 minutes per game. It was his first time playing over 30 minutes each night, and Cassell reached new heights.
The 6’3 guard was the Nets’ lead playmaker the following season as he put up 19.6 points, 8.0 assists, and 1.6 steals in 34.7 minutes per game. Cassell helped lead the Nets to the playoffs, but they were swept in the first round by the eventual champion Bulls.
In March of 1999, Cassell was traded to the Bucks as the Nets acquired Stephon Marbury. He played in just eight regular season games that year because of injuries, but Sam I Am did play in the first round of the playoffs where Milwaukee was swept by the Pacers.
Over the next five seasons, Cassell averaged 19.2 points, 7.3 assists, and 1.2 steals in 35.3 minutes per game. He was an All-Star in 2004 and helped the Bucks and Timberwolves reach the conference finals over those five years. The 6’3 guard bounced around the league throughout his career, but the Nets certainly gave up on the talented point guard too soon.