Nets All-Time Top 25: No. 6 Drazen Petrovic
Sharpshooting guard dazzled for the Nets before tragedy struck
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.
Drazen Petrovic’s time with the Nets was brief, but unforgettable.
Over two-and-a-half seasons and 195 games, the sharpshooting guard lit up the Meadowlands with his scoring prowess, averaging 19.5 points per game and shooting 51.1 percent overall and 43.7 percent from 3-point range. His 3-point shooting percentage with the Nets matches his career average, which is still the third-highest in NBA history, 25 years after his last game.
When he was traded to the Nets in January 1991, Petrovic was still a bit of a mystery. He’d been drafted in the third round in 1986 and joined the Portland Trail Blazers three years later. Petrovic was a sensation in Europe, but the flow of foreign players to the NBA was still in its infancy. With the Blazers, he had averaged 7.0 points in 95 games, and played in less than half of Portland’s first 40 games to start the 1990-91 season before being traded to New Jersey.
His game quickly trended upward over the final 43 games of the season with the Nets, but it was just a taste of what was to come.
In the 1991-92 season, Petrovic broke out while playing all 82 games and leading the Nets to their first playoff appearance since 1986. He averaged 20.6 points per game while shooting 50.8 percent overall and 44.4 percent from 3-point range, second in the league.
The following year, Petrovic upped his average to 22.3 points per game, shooting 51.8 percent from the field and 44.9 percent from 3-point range, third in the NBA. He scored a career-high 44 points against the Houston Rockets on Jan. 24, 1993, making 17 of 23 shots, including all three of his 3-point attempts. At the end of the season, Petrovic was named to the All-NBA Third Team.
While visiting Germany during the summer, Petrovic was killed in a car accident at just 28 years old.
Petrovic’s time in the NBA only added to his already legendary status at home. He captured two silver medals and a bronze in Olympic competition, as well as a FIBA World Cup and FIBA EuroBasket title. He was a groundbreaker, a star leading the first influx of European players to the NBA, and in 2002 he was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.