Greatest Draft Steals in New York Knicks History
The New York Knicks are one of the oldest teams in the NBA, tracing back their roots to 1946. For a sports franchise to last that long, they need to have talent and the Knicks are no exception. The team has had its fair share of highly-touted prospects such as Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, and Willis Reed but they have also been able to find diamonds in the rough throughout their history.
5. Toby Knight
The 32nd pick of the 1977 draft out of Notre Dame, Knight is one of the biggest, yet lesser-known ‘what if’s’ in Knicks history. After an unremarkable rookie year, Knight burst onto the scene scoring 16.6 points and grabbing 6.7 rebounds a game.
The next year he increased his scoring to 19.1 points and by the age of 24, it looked like Knight had a very bright future ahead of him.
Unfortunately, the 6-foot-9 forward suffered a knee injury that forced him to miss all of the next season. When he returned, it was clear he was not the same player and soon after, the Knicks waived him.
Still, that level of production from a second-round pick is still very good.
4. Mark Jackson
Known for his passing ability at St. Johns, the Knicks took a flier on 6-foot-1 point guard Mark Jackson with the 18th overall pick in 1987. Little did they know that they had the 1988 Rookie of the Year on their hands.
Jackson was never an elite scorer and played seven non-consecutive seasons with the Knicks but he did provide elite passing averaging eight or more assists in three of his first five years with New York.
3. Gerald Wilkins
Unlike his older brother Dominique, Gerald Wilkins was not a highly touted prospect that dominated major college basketball. Instead, he was a skinny, 6-foot-6 wing that played his college ball at small-school Chatanooga.
Still, the Knicks drafted him at the end of the second round (47th overall) in the 1985 draft and got some really productive years out of him.
Wilkins was able to make an immediate impact with New York and had the best season of his career in 1986-87 when he averaged 19.1 points, 4.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game.
2. David Lee
An undersized big man out of Florida, Lee slipped to the last pick of the first round in 2005. Luckily for New York, the 6-foot-9 center would turn out to be one of the best players in the draft class.
Lee is one of just four players from the 2005 class (Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Andrew Bynum) to make an All-Star team and an All-NBA team.
And although that All-NBA selection came later in Lee’s career with the Golden State Warriors, his per-game averages in his final year with the Knicks (2009-10) of 20.2 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists remains his best statistical season.
1. Richie Guerin
How often do you find a Hall of Fame player with the second-to-last pick of the second round? Well, that’s exactly what the Knicks did in 1954 when they drafted 6-foot-4 shooting guard Richie Guerin.
Granted, the NBA only had nine teams at the time so in actuality, Guerin was the 17th overall pick but that doesn’t change the fact that nearly every team in the league passed on him twice.
In seven seasons with the Knicks, Guerin made six-straight All-Star teams and was named to an All-NBA team three times.
Guerin was an excellent rebounder for a guard (career-best 7.9 per game in 1960-61) and scored 20-plus points per game in four straight seasons including 29.5 for the 1961-62 season.