It now seems like a lifetime ago, but the wounds of last offseason’s debacles still remain fresh in the memory of New York Knicks fans. Missing out on both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving has to take the cake for last summer’s worst moment. But not far behind is missing out on potentially selecting Zion Williamson as the first overall pick.
The Knicks were one of the odds-on favorites to secure the top pick in the draft lottery. But as destiny would have it, New York would fall all the way to the third spot. Williamson, considered by many as a generational talent, could have been a franchise-altering swoop for the Knicks. As a matter of fact, he could have even been considered as one of the best draft picks in Knicks history. Instead, we have three other names on our top three list today. And while Zion isn’t on it, these three are still some of the greatest players this league has ever seen.
3. Patrick Ewing
Selected first overall by New York in the 1985 draft, Ewing is widely regarded as the greatest Knick of the modern era. Coming out of a highly-impressive four-year college career at Georgetown, the 7-foot big man was the consensus first overall pick of his class. The class also included the likes of Karl Malone, Joe Dumars, and Chris Mullin, to name a few.
Ewing made an immediate splash in his debut season, winning Rookie of the Year and being dubbed as an All-Star in his first year. Throughout his tenure with the Knicks, he was the very reason behind New York being a perpetual playoff contender in the East. The team made 13 consecutive postseason appearances — including two unsuccessful trips to the Finals — with Ewing at the helm.
Ewing is an 11-time All-Star, a seven-time All-NBA team member, a three-time Defensive team member, and was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2008.
2. Walt Frazier
Since its inception in 1946, the Knicks have just two NBA titles under their belt. Both of these championships came during the tenure of 6-foot-4 Hall of Fame point guard Walt Frazier. Considered by many as one of the greatest Knicks of all time, he was selected by New York in the 1967 draft as the fifth overall pick.
In 10 seasons with the Knicks, Frazier would be named to the All-Star squad seven times, to the All-NBA squad six times, to the All-Defensive team seven times, and even won the All-Star game MVP award in 1975. In arguably his best season as a Knick, the Atlanta, Georgia native averaged 21.1 points (on 49.0 percent shooting), 7.3 rebounds, and 5.9 assists. He led New York to its second title in four years.
1. Willis Reed
Another man who played a pivotal role for New York during their dominance in the late-60’s/early-70’s is none other than Willis Reed. Playing alongside Frazier, Reed immortalized himself in Knicks history by helping the team to two those two titles in 1970 and 1973.
Reed was selected eighth overall by the Knicks in the 1964 draft. And in his decade-long career (all with New York), Reed was able to establish himself as one of the most dominant bigs of his era. He holds career averages of 18.7 points (on 47.6 percent shooting) and 12.9 rebounds. The Hall of Famer holds numerous accolades. He’s a former Rookie of the Year winner, a seven-time All-Star, a five-time All-NBA team member, a one-time All-Defensive team member, a two-time Finals MVP, and a one-time season MVP winner.