New York Knicks: The Top 5 Shooting Guards in Team History

Ciaran Gowan@@CiaranGowanContributor IIIOctober 6, 2012

New York Knicks: The Top 5 Shooting Guards in Team History

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    The New York Knicks are a team that has been blessed with great shooting guards over the years.

    From sharp-shooters to defensive stoppers and athletic freaks, the Knicks' back-court has seen it all.

    Present day players J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert have a lot to live up to in their tenure with New York, having had so many talented players come before them.

    Let's take a look at the top five players the current crop will have to surpass if they are to be remembered amongst the Knicks' greatest off-guards of all time.

5. Latrell Sprewell

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    Most NBA fans tend to remember Latrell Sprewell for his chocking incident in 1997, and his comments about having a "family to feed" when he turned down a big money contract from the Minnesota Timberwolves. But fans of the Knicks may also remember that he spent some pretty good years on the court in New York.

    Playing both as a shooting guard and a small forward at MSG, Sprewell was arguably the Knicks' most productive player in their run to the NBA Finals in 1999.

    In that Finals series, Spree averaged 26 points, after only recently earning a starting role on the team.

    He continued to be one of the team's stars for the next few years, with his athleticism and scoring ability leading the way for New York.

    As unlikeable as he was off the court, it can't be denied that Sprewell was a talented player, at times dominant, and always a big problem for opposing teams.

4. John Starks

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    Though some consider him to be overrated, John Starks thoroughly deserved his role as a fan favourite on the Knicks' great nineties teams.

    Despite going undrafted, Starks made a name for himself with hard work, grit and determination, values which endeared him to the Knicks faithful despite his sometimes inconsistent performance.

    Though he's not a Hall of Famer, and doesn't have his number retired by the Knicks, Starks has his name in history as the franchise's all time leader in three-point shooting and the first player in NBA history to score 200 three-pointers in one season.

    With "The Dunk", Starks also made one of the greatest plays in Knicks history, as he soared over the Chicago Bulls during one of their many intense playoff battles.

    Overrated or not, Starks represented the underdog and the unlikely hero, and it's this that Knicks fans will never forget him for.

3. Allan Houston

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    Now the general manager of the Knicks' D-League affiliate Erie BayHawks, Allan Houston spent almost a decade in New York as one of the team's better players in some not-so-good times.

    Though overshadowed by Ray Allen and Reggie Miller, Houston too had fantastic touch from beyond the arc.

    To this day, Houston's shot has stayed with him, as he, Cappie Pondexter and Landry Fields won the Haier Shooting Stars Contest for Team New York at the 2012 All-Star Weekend.

    Houston is second all time behind John Starks in three-pointers for the Knicks, and fourth in points scored, behind only three Hall of Famers in Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier and Willis Reed.

    The sharpshooter will likely miss out on the Hall of Fame himself, but he still had some very impressive years in blue and orange.

2. Dick Barnett

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    A two-time NBA champion with the Knicks, it feels like Dick Barnett is one of the franchise's most underrated players from the great teams of the late sixties and early seventies.

    "Fall Back Baby," as he was known during his days with the Lakers, was arguably the Knicks' best offensive player in the sixties, but his production started to drop just as the team started to have success in the playoffs.

    Though his jump shot was unorthodox, Barnett had no problem putting the ball in the basket, and even averaged an astonishing 23 points per game in 1965-66.

    Earl Monroe has even said that Barnett was "before his time" with the way he played the game, as he was an early look at the volume scoring players we saw a little later on.

    Basketball wasn't the only thing Barnett was good at, though. Almost as surprising, Barnett was also an author and a poet, and even has a PhD in education.

    Barnett may have had his number 12 retired by the Knicks, but it still feels as though he hasn't gotten the recognition he deserves for how good he really was.

1. Earl Monroe

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    Signed to reinvigorate the Knicks' title hopes in the early seventies, Earl Monroe had no problem with bringing his form with the Baltimore Bullets over to New York.

    Some doubted whether Earl "the Pearl" and Walt Frazier could exist together in the same back-court, but it wasn't long before the pairing silenced their critics and led the Knicks to their second championship in 1973.

    Both now reside in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and for good reason, as they constituted what was arguably the greatest guard pairing in league history.

    Despite struggling with knee injuries for the bulk of his career, Monroe was one of the more exciting players to watch in the early years of the NBA, which led him to earn four All-Star appearances over the course of his career.

    Along with this, Monroe was also an All-Rookie and All-NBA team member at points in his career, and has now had it all capped off by having his number retired by the Knicks and Washington Wizards.

    It's unlikely that anyone will ever knock the Pearl off the top of this list, and he's even acknowledged this himself, saying "I watch the games and even now I never see anyone who reminds me of me, the way I played."