Power Ranking Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks All-Time Purest Scorers
Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, George Gervin, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Dominique Wilkins. All pure scorers.
So, what’s a “pure scorer?”
There’s a general idea out there that pops in your head when you hear the term. But let’s try to pin down a definition. I’m going to say it comes down to these six parameters:
1. Can score from anywhere on the court.
2. Lethal shooting accuracy. Frequently explosive.
3. Can single-handedly take over a team’s offense and win a game.
4. The ball is often in his hands for the final shot.
5. Player has high statistical scoring averages.
6. There is an aesthetic beauty to his game. Technique.
Yes, that last one counts. It incorporates that ethereal quality of the “pure scorer.” From nothing but net, to threading the needle with a teardrop, how it’s done matters.
And that would eliminate, say, Patrick Ewing, or Charles Barkley or Shaquille O’Neal from the category. Nobody refers to these guys as pure scorers, despite their all-time scoring totals and averages. They couldn’t necessarily score from anywhere on the court either (including the foul line in some cases).
Carmelo Anthony covers all six bases. And win or lose, he is still easily one of the best pure scorers in Knicks history.
But where does he rank amongst the Garden’s greatest? Pretty high, if you ask me.
Here are the Top 10 Purest Scorers in Knicks History.
Patrick Ewing: The center was the greatest offensive force (and defensive too) in Knicks history. But that's the issue here—it was brute force. Sure, Ewing had a nice mid-ranger, but a pure scorer he was not.
Bill Cartwright: What could have been? Cartwright was on his way to being the greatest Knick ever (and a sure bet to make the top 50 all-time) when injury cut him down. Cartwright almost made the list, but pure scorer? Not a phrase used to describe him.
Carl Braun: A shooting guard from the beginning days of the Knicks, Braun led the team in scoring seven times and was top 10 in the NBA for four of those.
Bill Bradley: Bradley almost made the list, but just didn't score enough compared to four of his championship teammates who made the list. Bradley did put up some serious moves and numbers, like 45 percent shooting for his career.
Latrell Sprewell: Sprewell was a pure shooter of sorts, but played second fiddle to Allan Houston in that department for the late '90s Knicks. He had his moments from behind the arc, too, with three-point percentages of 36 and 37.
Stephon Marbury: A lot of promise, not a lot of performance. That first year, Marbury poured in over 1700 points. It was all downhill after that.
Jamal Crawford: Crawford was the only player worth his salt on the playoff-less teams of the mid to late 2000s. Injuries and Larry Brown (who relegated Crawford to the bench) would squash his playing time—and potential.
10. Dave DeBusschere
Dave DeBusschere was mostly known for his contributions on the defensive end, but he could score too.
He refutes the concept of the pure scorer as a one-dimensional player by showcasing so much more than just offense.
A critical piece of both 1970 and 1973 championship teams, the forward shot about 44 percent from the floor during his five-plus years with the Knicks, from under the basket to way outside – all while dominating on the defensive boards.
9. John Starks
Yes, I'm putting Starks on the list.
John Starks could do it all from anywhere on the court, from driving through the paint to three-pointers (he’s the all-time franchise leader) to dunking. A mini scoring machine.
If he weren’t such a hack, he’d be higher on the list. But he still shot over 40 percent from the floor and 30 percent from long range while with the Knicks.
8. Richie Guerin
Richie Guerin averaged over 20 points per game four years in a row back in the early 1960s, including a crazy 29.5 in 1961-62.
Guerin was a top 10 scorer in the NBA four times.
His numbers also prove that a pure scorer can do more than just score. Guerin was top 10 in assists six times and had 500 assists four years in a row.
He features at around 2:20 on the video. Guerin wears No. 9.
7. Dick Barnett
Dick Barnett was an unstoppable offensive force during his first five years in New York, averaging 47 percent from the floor during that time.
The guard was a critical piece of the 1970 championship team, third in scoring during the season behind Willis Reed and Walt Frazier. He upped his game in the postseason, sinking nearly 18 points a game.
6. Allan Houston
Allan Houston probably had the prettiest moves in Knicks history. The basketball rarely hit the rim on the way in.
He could hit from anywhere, and as the video shows, he discreetly put on the occasional Jordanesque move.
Houston is just below the line of prolific scorers represented by the top five. These next guys just scored at will.
5. Earl Monroe
Earl “The Pearl” Monroe was the perfect compliment to Walt “Clyde” Frazier.
Monroe joined the Knicks just in time to help catapult the team to the 1973 championship, shooting 52 percent in the postseason that year.
He would stay with New York for the next seven years, with a shooting average around 47 percent, including two seasons of .517 and .495.
When you watch him in the video, with both Baltimore Bullets and Knicks highlights, you can detect a little Dr. J in Monroe’s basketball DNA.
4. Willis Reed
Willis Reed is arguably the greatest Knick of all-time. “The Captain” led the Knicks to the 1970 and 1973 championships both physically and emotionally.
Reed averaged over 20 points per game five years in a row during which his field goal percentage was 50 percent, including two years of .521 and .507 accuracy.
But as great as Reed was, and as important as he was to the franchise and its history, he was still not as pure a scorer as the top three.
3. Walt Frazier
Walt Frazier might as well have been a shooting guard, his scoring statistics are so good. He did it all while running the point (he’s the all-time Knicks assists leader).
Frazier averaged over 20 points a game for six years straight, and shot over 50 percent three times. His field goal percentage over nine of his 10 years as a Knick was a crisp .494.
He’s second on the Knicks all-time lists in team field goals, free throws and total points.
2. Bernard King
Bernard King was a scoring monster. He unfortunately played only three full seasons in New York. His was a potential Hall of Fame career cut down by injury.
But when he was healthy, he may have been the most unstoppable offensive force to don the Blue and Orange.
In those three seasons, the “original King” averaged 21.9, 26.3 and a league-leading 32.9 points per game. The 6’7” forward’s shooting percentages were 53, 57 and 53.
1. Carmelo Anthony
The book isn’t complete yet, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that Carmelo Anthony, at least potentially, and definitely skill-wise, is the best pure shooter in Knicks history.
He can do it all: three-pointers, in the paint, mid-range, off the glass, off the foul, off balance, slamming it home. The ball is going in.
Anthony routinely scores over 30 points, frequently over 40 and will soon eclipse the number of 40 point games by Bernard King to be the Knicks’ all-time leader.
New York has never had a scorer like Carmelo Anthony.
Now let's see where that takes the team.