New York Knicks: Top 10 First-Round Draft Picks in Franchise History

Jason RadowitzContributor IIIJanuary 25, 2012

New York Knicks: Top 10 First-Round Draft Picks in Franchise History

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    Since Iman Shumpert has showed some signs of excellence in his rookie season, I thought it would be cool to look back at the other first-round picks the Knicks have drafted that have actually done well in the NBA with the Knicks.

    The Knicks became apart of the NBA in 1949, however the Knicks hadn't got a real gem until two big stars came in 1967, one who was drafted in 1965 and another one who was drafted that year, 1967. Everything went right in the 1960's to 1970's but after that, even one of the best centers in the league couldn't win a championship after getting drafted first overall.

    The Knicks could probably have done better selecting first-round picks, but they did find a few gems throughout the years.

    ***Look out for the Top 10 busts coming soon!

No. 10 Danilo Gallinari: 6th in the 2008 Draft

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    In the 2008 draft, Danilo Gallinari was selected sixth overall by the Knicks, and he heard many boos.

    And who can blame the fans? They never heard of him out of Italy. Then things got worse. He announced that he would miss most of the 2008-09 rookie season due to back problems.

    Gallinari was known for his scoring ability as he was a vicious three-point shooter. On October 31, 2009, Danilo Gallinari hit eight three-pointers and scored 30 points, and that's when his career finally took off as a Knick.

    When Amar'e Stoudemire decided to join the Knicks, "Gallo" continued to show off his shooting ability, and that's when he was traded to the Nuggets in a package for Carmelo Anthony.

    He was a fan favorite, although he was very clumsy. In his last two seasons with the Knicks he averaged 15 points and five rebounds per game and brought many good memories to the Garden.

    He was a big reason the Knicks were able to land Carmelo in the first place.

    Today, Gallinari signed a four-year, $42 million extension with the Nuggets. Knicks fans should be very excited Gallo found his way in the NBA.

No. 9 Charlie Ward: 26th in the 1994 Draft

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    It's pretty safe to say Charlie Ward was a complete athlete. He was drafted 26th in the first round of the 1994 NBA draft, after being selected in the 18th round in the MLB draft by the Yankees that same year.

    Before he helped the Knicks, he won the Heisman Trophy Award in 1993 with Florida State playing quarterback.

    In his rookie season under Pat Riley, he played phenomenal, however, he didn't get much playing time. When Jeff Van Gundy took over, Charlie Ward's increased minutes payed off.

    Many fans enjoyed his work ethic and hard play on the court. He established himself as a three-point shooter and he even made it to the three-point contest, only to fall to fourth place (last place) in 1998.

    The season after that, the 1999 Knicks made it all the way to the championship with hard work from Ward, as he averaged nine points and four assists per game in the 16 games they played during their run.

    The Knicks then fell to the Spurs in the championship, but no one will ever forget the hard work Ward, and the rest of the Knicks, for that matter, showed during that season.

    Point guards are the playmakers, just look at the Knicks this season...

No. 8 Mark Jackson: 18th in the 1987 Draft

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    In the 1987 draft, the Knicks selected Mark Jackson as the 18th overall pick, in which proved to be a good move.

    Right away Jackson came in, and in his rookie season, he put up double-double figures, averaging 14 points and 11 assists per game. Jackson went on to win the Rookie of the Year award.

    In the season after that, Jackson made his only All-Star game appearance after he made his big men (Oakley, Ewing) look good.

    In his first five years with the Knicks, Jackson put up 4,688 points and 3,237 assists.

    However, the Knicks made a costly move in trading Mark Jackson away in a three-team deal where they received Doc Rivers, Charlies Smith and Bo Kimble.

    Mark Jackson came back to the Knicks for round two for only one year in the 01-02 season, at the trade deadline. They were knocked out of the playoffs, and Jackson was gone again.

    It's a shame Jackson couldn't win a championship with the Knicks, however, he did win over many Knicks fans and coaches.

    Finally this season, Mark Jackson became the Golden State Warriors head coach for his first coaching job ever. He was a few years short, because had he said he wanted to coach before Mike D'Antoni was hired, he might have had a chance. I know many Knicks fans would have liked that now.

No. 7 Michael Ray Richardson: 4th in the 1978 Draft

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    In the 1978 NBA draft, Michael Ray Richardson was selected two picks above Larry Bird by the New York Knicks at fourth overall.

    That doesn't sit well with most Knicks fans. Although Richardson didn't have as good of a career, he did have a well-rounded one to say the least, for the time he did play.

    In just Richardson's second year with the Knicks, he led the NBA in assists and steals, becoming the first every player to do so in NBA history.

    However, in the 1982-83 season, Richardson was sent to the Warriors in order for the Knicks to receive, who is now one of the greats, Bernard King.

    Later Richardson was an All-Star with the Nets, but was banned from the NBA in 1986 for violating the  NBA's drug policy.

    He could have had a great career in the NBA, he had great, sneaky skills as a point guard. It just didn't work out, but he did help the Knicks in his time with them.

No. 6 Trent Tucker: 6th in the 1982 Draft

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    Although Trent Tucker didn't have an amazing career, his three-point shooting ability got him on this list after being drafted sixth overall in the 1982 draft.

    Trent Tucker made the first ever three-point shooting contest, as a Knick, but only made it to the semifinals losing to the legend, Larry Bird.

    Tucker had 6,237 career points and 1,532 career assists, but most people remember him because of the rule named after him, "The Trent Tucker Rule."

    On January 15th, 1990 Trent Tucker, with .1 seconds left in a regular season matchup against the Bulls, hit a three-point shot before time expired. However, if you think about it, there is no possible way any person or athlete can shoot a ball with .1 seconds left on the clock.

    The Knicks went on to win the game, but the NBA decided afterwards that they were going to make a new rule that states that you need to have at least .3 seconds left on the clock in order to take an actual shot.

    Tucker's legacy will never be forgotten.

    And don't forget, in Tucker's last season in the NBA, he won a championship with the Bulls. If only he could have won it with the Knicks...

No. 5 David Lee: 30th in the 2005 Draft

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    David Lee will probably be forgotten in 10 years after getting drafted 30th overall in the 2005 NBA draft, however, during his time with the Knicks he became a star.

    Although he didn't play that well in his rookie season, in his sophomore season, Lee turned some heads. He was invited to the Rookie Challenge and won the MVP in the game after putting up 30 points with help from Chris Paul.

    Lee continued to be a double-double machine over his years with the Knicks, while playing center for most of the games.

    In the 08-09 season, Lee continued to bring up his career stats as he was able to score 30 points and 20 rebounds in a game.

    But most importantly, in his last season with the Knicks, he played his best basketball of his career.

    Lee was able to achieve a triple-double against the Warriors on April 2, 2009.

    Ironically, Lee is now playing for the Warriors after being traded away in a sign-and-trade deal for Amar'e Stoudemire. Also, Mark Jackson, No. 8 on this list, is the coach of the Warriors and is making Lee an even better player, especially on defense.

    Lee was invited to go to the NBA All-Star game in 2009 for the injured and undeserved superstar Allen Iverson.

    That was the first time a Knick made it into the All-Star game since Allen Houston made it in 2001.

    He brought cheer for us Knicks fans, and hopefully, many people will remember him as that guy who always put forth 110 percent effort.

No. 4 Cazzie Russell: 1st in the 1966 Draft

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    There were high expectations for Cazzie Russell after being selected first overall in the 1966 draft, and he didn't disappoint in his time with the Knicks.

    Russell was selected to the 1967 All-Rookie team, but most of all, he was one of the center pieces in the Knicks championship run in 1970.

    In the 1970 playoffs, Russell averaged slightly above nine points per game, and played every single game in the playoffs, including the Lakers in the championship.

    However, after only playing 57 games in the 1970-71 season, the Knicks traded Russell for Jerry Lucas from the Warriors.

    In his first season with the Warriors, Russell was invited to the 1972 All-Star game.

    The 6'5" forward could have helped the Knicks win another title, but instead he was traded. More talent was lost by the Knicks.

No. 3 Bill Bradley: Territorial in the 1965 Draft

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    In the last year of territorial picks, Bill Bradley was selected by the Knicks in the 1965 NBA draft. (Territorial picks gave teams first rights to draft players who attended college within 50 miles of the team.) Because the Knicks were one mile closer to Princeton than the 76ers, the Knicks were able to obtain one of the greatest Knicks of all time.

    However, Bradley did not start with the Knicks right away. In April 1967, he spent six months serving for the Air Force Reserves and finally came to the Knicks in December.

    In his third season, Bradley helped the Knicks to a championship in 1970. Two years later, the Knicks won another championship with help from Bradley and that year he made his first and only All-Star game of his career.

    Bradley played 95 games in the playoffs for the Knicks during his career, scoring an average of 13 points per game.

    In 1982, five years into his retirement after playing 10 solid seasons with the Knicks, Bradley was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

    Later in 1984, the Knicks retired No. 24 for all the dedication Bradley showed throughout his career.

    He averaged 12.4 points per game and 3.4 assists per game.

    Whenever you go into Madison Square Garden, you will always see his jersey number at the top of the ceiling and remember what a true asset he was to the New York Knicks organization.

No. 2 Walt Frazier: 5th in the 1967 Draft

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    In 1967, Walt "Clyde" Frazier was selected fifth overall and didn't disappoint. He had an outstanding career after being voted to the NBA All-Rookie Team, but even better, he made it to seven All-Star games in just 13 seasons.

    Clyde not only was selected to many All-Star games, but he was a part of the Knicks 1970 and 1973 championship victories. He was also named to the All-NBA First Team four times, the All-NBA Second Team twice and the All-Defensive First Team seven times.

    In his career, Frazier averaged 19 points per game and six assists per game. He was also a stealing machine and a fantastic defender.

    In 1979, for his fantastic years at the Garden with the Knicks, he was honored to have his jersey retired (No. 10) by the Knicks.

    Later in 1987, Frazier was elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame for his outstanding play on both ends of the court. In addition, in 1996, Frazier was also elected to the 50th Anniversary All-Time Team. 

    Although Frazier played his final years in Cleveland, his career with the Knicks wasn't over just yet.

    In 1997, Frazier decided to do some broadcasting and is now the color commentator alongside Mike Breen or Kenny Albert on the MSG Network.

    Frazier puts together many phrases during games like "dishing and swishing," "duping and hooping," "posting and toasting," "stopping and popping," "winning and grinning," "using and abusing," "shaking and baking," "bounding and astounding" and they never get old.

    He is also known for his different suits or shoes every night. He wears the most craziest combinations you'll ever see.

    Walt "Clyde" Frazier is a legend. It's plain and simple.

No. 1 Patrick Ewing: 1st in the 1985 Draft

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    With the first pick in the 1985 NBA draft, the Knicks selected probably one of the best players ever to play, Patrick Ewing.

    Right away, even with injuries, Ewing went to work, putting up 20 points per game as he went on his way to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award.

    Ewing was voted into the All-Star game 11 times, was put once onto the All-NBA First Team and six times on the All-NBA Second Team. The gigantic center also achieved NBA All-Defensive Second Team honors three times in his career.

    Ewing was also a part of the legendary Dream Team at the 1992 Olympic Games.

    He was also given the honor of being named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.

    Ewing broke many records for the Knicks franchise in points, rebounds, blocks and many more categories. For example, in 1999, Ewing became the 10th player in NBA history to record 22,000 points and 10,000 rebounds.

    For his outstanding career (15 seasons), and I mean outstanding, the Knicks retired his number (No. 33) on February 28, 2003, the year after his retirement. Also, the NBA elected Ewing into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

    The only thing that went wrong in Ewing's career, is that he didn't win a single championship. He could possibly be the best retired player with no championship rings in his career.

    Ewing will always be the best Knick to ever play. He was dedicated and loved by many, if not all fans. He tried his best to win a championship, but in the end Michael Jordan was just a little bit better.