Nets All-Time Top 25: No. 12 Keith Van Horn

Forward played big role in run to 2002 Finals

The selections for the Nets All-Time Top 25 Team were made by the author, with no input from the Brooklyn Nets organization. Selections were based on a combination of individual performance, team success and their contribution to it, and longevity with the franchise.

In the Nets’ run to their first conference championship, five years after he was acquired along with great expectations, Keith Van Horn delivered in a huge way.

With the Nets facing elimination in the first round of the playoffs following their surprising 52-win season and Atlantic Division title, Van Horn scored 27 points in the decisive double-overtime Game 5 win against the Indiana Pacers.

In the conference finals, with the Nets trailing the Boston Celtics two games to one, Van Horn scored 21 points in a Game 4 win, then added 19 in Game 5. With Game 6 going down to the wire, he knocked down a crucial 3-pointer with less than 50 seconds remaining to help seal the 96-88 win that sent the franchise to the NBA Finals for the first time.

The 6-foot-10 forward was the second overall pick of the 1997 NBA Draft, acquired on draft night by the Nets in an eight-player deal that included their first rounder, No. 7 pick Tim Thomas.

Van Horn quickly led a Nets turnaround, averaging 19.7 points as a rookie as the Nets improved from 26 wins to 43 and returned to the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. He jumped to a career-high 21.8 points per game in 1998-99 and continued as one of the team’s top scorers as the record regressed, with the Nets falling back to a 26-56 record in his fourth season.

In 2001-02, Van Horn again played a role in an amazing turnaround. As the Nets put together a balanced offensive unit to spur their run to the finals, Van Horn averaged 14.8 points, a tick behind team leader Kenyon Martin (14.9) and right above Jason Kidd (14.7). He also led the Nets with 7.5 rebounds per game.

Following that breakthrough season, Van Horn was dealt to the team that originally drafted him, the Philadelphia 76ers. He finished his Nets career averaging 18.2 points and 7.6 rebounds in 314 games over five seasons.

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