Ranking the Top 25 Players in NY Knicks History

John Dorn@JSDorn6Correspondent IIIJuly 31, 2013

Ranking the Top 25 Players in NY Knicks History

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    The New York Knicks are one of the NBA's most decorated franchises, and for good reason. Their history dates back to the years immediately following World War II.

    Despite just a pair of banner-raising seasons to the team's credit, Madison Square Garden has played host to some of the most memorable basketball games of all time, thanks to an eclectic array of Knicks greats.

    Here, we sort those legends onto a single compilation: The top 25 players to ever wear the blue and orange.

    Rules are as follows:

    1) In order to make the cut, the player must have played at least 82 games (one full season) in a Knicks uniform, and at least a quarter of his career must have been spent in New York.

    Exceptions are current Knicks who are contracted to be with the team long enough to meet the criteria.

    Apologies to Bob McAdoo, who averaged 27 and 12 as a Knick, but in just two of his 14 NBA seasons.

    2.) Their Knicks team must have made the postseason at least once during their MSG tenure. If not, they must've made an All-Star team.

    3.) Selections aren't necessarily based off the player's career performance, rather their output solely as a Knick. Without this provision, guys like Tracy McGrady and Steve Francis would likely make the cut, and that just wouldn't seem right.

    That's about it as far as rules go. Sit back, enjoy the collaboration between generations and feel free to agree or disagree in the comments below.

     

25. J.R. Smith

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    2011-2013 Stats: 16.4 PPG, 2.9 APG, 4.6 RPG, 1.3 SPG, .418 FG%, .353 3P%

    Through two campaigns as a Knick, J.R. Smith has shown us many things.

    He's played brilliant basketball, helping the Knicks finish with the second-best record in the conference. He's also shot them out of certain contests thanks to his notorious streakiness.

    Through it all, at his best, Smith has displayed the type of talent with the ball that's tough to come across—enough to earn him the title of 25th best Knick of all time.

    During a Smith hot streak, you'll seldom find a shooter as lethal as the reigning Sixth Man of the Year. Combine his sharpshooting skills with an incredible ability to get to the basket and score, and it comes as no surprise that he made up 14 percent of the 2012-13 Knicks' points on his own.

    There's no doubt that Smith may be the most unpredictable player—on and off the court—in the entire league. His decision-making always seems to be a work in progress, and his shot selection has never been his greatest skill. All of the above can be said about John Starks, who rests in Knicks folklore as difference-making sixth man.

    What Smith may need to work on the most in future seasons is asserting himself and getting to the basket, as opposed to settling for long jumpers. In the final 15 games of the 2012-13 season, Smith showed just what he can do with driving in mind. He scored 24 points per contest on 50 percent shooting, while attempting just 4.3 of his 17.1 shots from beyond the arc.

    With some individual hardware in his trophy case after last season, Smith's abilities can no longer be doubted. It'll take some convincing on his end to assure the basketball world that he's capable of putting full seasons of remarkable play together. 

24. Ray Williams

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    1978-1984 Stats: 16.4 PPG, 5.7 APG, 3.8 RPG, .464 FG%, 1.8 SPG

    Ray Williams excelled in the Knicks backcourt, but at an unfortunate time for the sake of history. Over the first four years with the Knicks, Williams played in only eight playoff contests. In comparison to the decade prior and the one that followed, it was easy to forget the standouts of the late '70s through early '80s.

    Williams opened his career solidly after being drafted 10th overall in the 1977 draft. By his sophomore campaign, he was a 30-minutes-per-game player averaging 17 and six on a playoff-contending team. The next season, he upped his scoring number to 21, without sacrificing his distributing marks. The team, however, missed out on the postseason once again.

    The team ended their two-season hiatus from the playoffs the next year, which was Williams' last as a Knick. His stats suffered slightly with increased playing time, but he, Bill Cartwright, Campy Russell and Michael Ray Richardson all finished the season with scoring marks above 15 per game.

    Williams' career tailed off slightly upon leaving the Knicks, averaging 14 points and six assists in the years that followed. 

    Williams died in March of colon cancer at 58.

23. Cazzie Russell

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    1967-1971 Stats: 13.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.1 APG, .457 FG%, 24.0 MPG

    Cazzie Russell enjoyed success as a role player on the Knicks' championship 1970 season, but was even more effective in the season prior. In 33 minutes per game during the 1968-69 campaign, Russell was the team's second-leading scorer to Willis Reed.

    The first overall pick of the 1966 draft didn't stick around long enough for the team's second championship, but the swingman spent the first five seasons of his 12-year career at MSG. With the star-studded lineup of Clyde Frazier, Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere and Bill Bradley ahead of Russell in the offense, finding shots was no easy task. He was asked to be the ultimate role player, and Russell excelled by playing his part. 

    Upon leaving the Knicks, Russell enjoyed personal success as a more important part of the Los Angeles Lakers' and Golden State Warriors' offenses. 

22. David Lee

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    2005-2010 Stats: 13.6 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 1.8 APG, .557 FG%

    David Lee strung together some of the most efficient offensive seasons from a Knicks big man in the late 2000s to early 2010s. Due to the Knicks' futility during that stretch, it's easy for most to forget—most except the Golden State Warriors, that is, who are in the process of paying him $80 million off his New York success.

    Drafted in 2006 out of Florida, Lee was an easily-pushed-around rebounder with no offensive game besides putbacks and dunks. By the time he left for the Warriors in July 2010, he was a polished scorer with a jumper whose range extended near the three-point line. His rebound rate never dipped below 17.5 after his rookie season.

    Lee made an All-Star team with New York in 2010 and led the Knicks in scoring that season. 

    We place him higher than Smith for a few reasons: one being his longevity. Lee endured five (losing) seasons in New York, to Smith's one-and-a-half. Lee was also counted on as those teams' top scorer and rebounder in the paint. Much to ask of a player younger than 25 through most of his Big Apple tenure.

     

21. Stephon Marbury

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    2003-2008 Stats: 18.2 PPG, 7.0 APG, 2.9 RPG, .440 FG%, .348 3P%, 1.3 SPG

    Stephon Marbury's image has been ruined over the years, as the lead member of the Isiah Thomas-led Knicks—and later exiled by Thomas' successor, Mike D'Antoni, out of spite. But we shouldn't let that distort our perception of how gifted he was on the court. His seven assists per game ranks fourth in franchise history, and his 18.2 points comes in at 13th.

    A point guard who comes in and averages 18 and seven is nothing to dismiss, and that's just what Steph did while playing for his hometown team. 

    In 2004-05, his first full season as a Knick, he finished second leaguewide in total assists, only to Steve Nash. The argument can be made that Starbury was a top-10 player at his position at an given time during his first four seasons with the Knicks. That's enough to place him at No. 22 on the all-time Knicks greats list.

    The final two seasons of his contract became extraordinarily murky, as Thomas benched him in favor of the forgettable Mardy Collins, and D'Antoni gave the starting job to Chris Duhon at Marbury's expense.

    But plenty of it was due to circumstances brought on by incompetent coaching combined with the ever-present New York media in a losing atmosphere.

20. Dick McGuire

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    1949-1957 Stats: 8.0 PPG, 5.8 APG, 4.2 RPG 

    The seventh overall pick in the 1949 BAA Draft (yeah, we're talking about a different era), Dick McGuire ran the point for eight seasons in New York. He's also part of the reason why Carmelo Anthony wears No. 7 (McGuire and Earl Monroe's 15 hang from the MSG rafters).

    The Hall of Famer's career began as a player with the Knicks and ended in the team's front office, with a coaching stint in between. He averaged eight points per game as a Knick while handling the distributing duties at the 1. The 1954-55 season rests as his most decorated, with 9.1 points and 7.6 assists for New York.

    His abilities played a large role in the advancement and maturation of the NBA at its earliest stages.

    McGuire worked as a scout for the Knicks over several decades, before being named senior consultant for the team. He died in 2010 at age 84.

19. Bill Cartwright

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    1979-1988 Stats: 16.8 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.0 BPG, .552 FG%

    The man closely associated with the Michael Jordan era Bulls teams of the late '80s through early '90s actually spent the majority of his career in New York.

    The 7'1" center entered the league as the third overall pick in 1979, and was thrown right into the fire, averaging 38.4 minutes his rookie season. He scored nearly 22 points, swatted away more than a shot a game and grabbed nine boards per contest in his first year, but stood no chance at taking home Rookie of the Year honors thanks to a player named Larry Bird. 

    Cartwright's role in the offense shrank as Michael Ray Richardson, Ray Williams, Bernard King and, later, Patrick Ewing emerged as top scoring options, but the center produced just fine in the role he was assigned. 

    The Knicks reached the postseason in four of Cartwright's eight seasons, playing a role in his ranking on this list at No. 19.

18. Larry Johnson

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    1996-2001 Stats: 12.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.3 APG, .464 FG%, .320 3P%

    Several Knicks have scored more than 12.3 points per game in their tenures—54 of them to be exact. Fifty-nine Knicks have posted better rebounding marks as well. Two-and-a-third assists ranks only 75th on the team's all-time list, too. 

    But Larry Johnson is responsible for the single most exciting play in the franchise's 68 seasons.

    As a member of the eighth-seeded Knicks in the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals, Johnson and New York trailed the Indiana Pacers by three with 5.7 seconds left. Johnson swarmed a tipped pass, sized up his defender and absorbed contact as he went up to shoot. The whistle blew, signaling a foul, and the shot went in, signaling a frenzy at MSG.

    The Knicks won the game, and eventually the series, becoming the first eight seed to ever reach the NBA Finals.

    Aside from the iconic moment in 1999, Johnson provided sound contributions on both sides of the ball for five years. It'd be foolish, though, to say the four-point play doesn't have an impact on his ranking here. It does, and Larry Johnson goes down at No. 18.

17. Anthony Mason

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    1991-1996 Stats: 9.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.6 APG, .528 FG%

    If one player could've embodied what the early '90s Knicks teams stood for as a whole, it'd be Anthony Mason. They didn't care how pretty it was, they didn't care whose feathers were ruffled in the process, they just wanted to win. And they'd do it as grittily as possible. All of the above describes Mason.

    Undersized at the 4 standing at 6'7", and not a better fit at small forward, Mase was a bit of a 'tweener throughout the years. When he came to New York at 26, he was on the heels of campaigns with the New Jersey Nets and Denver Nuggets that amounted to next-to-nothing—he received five and seven minutes on average those years, respectively.

    His role on the Knicks grew each season—save for one retraction in minutes during 1994, his minutes per game rose every year with New York. His 1991-92 campaign gave Mason his first important NBA minutes—26.8 per game, all off the bench. By his last Knicks season, the Tennessee State alum started all 82, and ran out for a league-leading 42.2 minutes per.

    During the Knicks' 1994 Finals run, ending one win short of a title, Mason started just 12 games but ended the year with the fifth-highest minutes total. Mason's important role on a team that all but took home a banner, paired with his yearly progression, is enough to place him in the top 20 Knicks of all time.

16. Michael Ray Richardson

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    1978-1982 Stats: 14.2 PPG, 7.1 APG, 6.0 RPG, .460 FG%, 2.6 SPG

    Similar to Ray Williams, Michael Ray Richardson suffered from excelling as a Knick in an unfavorable period of their history.

    His stat line over the course of his Knicks career (above) is eyebrow-raising, and a closer look at the individual seasons is even more impressive. Richardson was seldom used during his rookie campaign under Red Holzman and Willis Reed. But once Holzman re-took the helm at the beginning of the 1979-80 season, Richardson's career took off.

    At 24, he led the league that year in assists with 10.1 and steals with 3.2, while adding 15 points. He posted the best field goal percentage of his career that season at .472.

    Richarson's Knicks teams were predominantly of the losing variety, and he only appeared in two postseason games for New York. This and the guard's struggles while shooting—he was a 22 percent shooter from the arc and a 66 percent shooter from the charity stripe over his Big Apple career—are the only factors that hold him back from cracking the top 15 Knicks to ever put on the jersey.

15. Amar'e Stoudemire

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    2010-13 Stats: 20.8 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.4 BPG, .505 FG%, .341 3P%

    Some could make the argument that Amar'e Stoudemire doesn't have the accolades to stack up with other New York greats. If you look at the timeline of STAT's brief but eventful Knicks tenure, it's easy to see this is exactly where he belongs.

     

    2010-11

    Stoudemire was the first impact player to sign with the Knicks after their 29-win season in 2009-10. It was his arrival that marked the revival of the franchise's success, and Stoudemire was thriving in the biggest role of his career.

    Though his first three months as a Knick, MVP chants were raining down on STAT. Prior to the arrival of Carmelo Anthony after the All-Star break, Stoudemire was among the league leaders in scoring at 26.1 points per game on 50 percent shooting, and added more than eight rebounds to boot. Stoudemire was the king of New York.

    After 'Melo's arrival, Stoudemire still managed to get 18 shots up on average and net more than 22 points per contest. More importantly though, Amar'e was able to dodge injuries that too often hampered his career to that point. Until the postseason.

    STAT made it through the regular season more or less unscathed physically, but suffered a back injury against the Boston Celtics in the playoffs. Stoudemire was never the same in that series, and the carryover lasted well into the next season.

     

    2011-12

    Stoudemire's sophomore Knicks campaign was the lockout shortened 2011-12 season. To compensate for the back injury, he bulked up and added 15 pounds of muscle, primarily to his back.

    Stoudemire soon found out that the added bulk restricted his mobility and stole his lift. It took most of the season, but by mid-March, Stoudemire was back at a comfortable weight and appeared to be his dominant self again. 

    Then his back acted up again.

    He made it back in time for the postseason, where he played decently, but we're all too familiar with the fire extinguisher incident. The Knicks were handed the second first-round playoff exit in as many years.

     

    2012-13

    This past season, STAT was supposed to come back a new player. He and Carmelo finally had a full training camp together, and Stoudemire was at a comfortable playing weight. All signs were pointing to a resurgence until he was bit by the injury bug once again. A "knee bruise" soon turned into knee surgery, and Stoudemire was forced to sit out the first two months of his third Knicks season.

    He then faced a task that had never been thrown his way until this season, his 11th. A 30-year-old Stoudemire was asked to accept a reserve role, as to not intrude on the existing starters' success. Putting any existing ego aside, he accepted Mike Woodson's proposal, proving that Stoudemire wants nothing more than for the Knicks to be a winning group.

    And the cherry on top of the humble sundae? Stoudemire was producing at one of the highest efficiencies of his career.

    He averaged just 23.5 minutes per game, but STAT's numbers for 2012-13 normalize to 22 points and eight rebounds per 36 minutes. His PER of 22 isn't far off his mark from his 2010-11 MVP-esque run, and the trio of Stoudemire, Anthony and Tyson Chandler produced greater than Mike D'Antoni could ever have orchestrated.

    Then, right when Woodson began to lean on Stoudemire as if it was 2011, his knee gave out once more. This time the other one, and surgery was needed once again, ending his season.

    All things considered, Stoudemire is a great talent who's fallen under too many unfortunate circumstances. But considering the measures he's taken to ensure that his wants and the Knicks' success never clash, I'm not hesitating to include him on this team of all-time Knicks greats, albeit not in the top 10.

14. Richie Guerin

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    1953-1963 Stats: 20.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.3 APG, .411 FG%
    It came in a different era of NBA basketball, but Richie Guerin dominated for a lengthy period of time.
    His name is found scattered across Knicks record books, as he averaged 20 points, six rebounds and five assists over seven New York seasons, highlighted by a 1961-62 season where Guerin averaged 30 and seven assists.
    His Knicks teams were never exceptionally good, but the 1958-59 version did make it to the first round. They were swept in a three-game set against the Syracuse Nationals. Yeah, it was a long time ago.
    Several generations have come and passed, but Guerin remains one of the most decorated shooting guards the Knicks have ever had.

13. Latrell Sprewell

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    1998-2003 Stats: 17.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.3 SPG, .418 FG%, .349 3P%

    Latrell Sprewell, or "Spreeeeeeee," as he's more popularly recognized, was very, very good at playing basketball for the New York Knicks. He has his faults outside of that, but we need not discuss them here.

    Sprewell was the team's sixth man during its 1999 march to the Finals, after six seasons of starting in Golden State. He was the team's second-leading scorer that year, only to Patrick Ewing, and earned himself a starting role in the seasons that followed. 

    In 1999-2000, he started all 82 games and finished second on the Knicks in scoring again, this time to Allan Houston. As the new millenium was ushered in, and the Patrick Ewing era of Knicks basketball was phased out, New York's yearly win total shrunk each year. The desire for change from both sides, aided by constant feuds with owner James Dolan, led to a breakup following the 2002-03 season.

    Sprewell ranks 15th in franchise history in scoring. 

12. John Starks

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    1990-1998 Stats: 14.1 PPG, 4.0 APG, 2.7 RPG, 1.2 SPG, .423 FG%, .345 3P%

    Like J.R. Smith is to the current squad, John Starks acted as the early to mid-'90s Knicks sparkplug and excitement off the bench.

    Despite his great ability, Starks was a starter in just 275 of his 602 Knicks games. PER has his Knicks tenure at 15.1, or right about league average, but ask any fan and you'll learn that Starks was much more than average.

    Starks provided the feistiness and excitability that fit right in with the personality of the teams New York put out in that era. Streaky was an understatement when it came to his shooting, but when Starks was on the opponent surely knew it. 

    His numbers normalize to 17.7 points per 36 minutes, to go along with five assists. 

    It was difficult to harness at times, but Starks' complete package is what earned him his spot on the list of Knicks all-time greats. Oh, and failing to mention The Dunk would just be immoral.

11. Charles Oakley

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    1988-1998 Stats: 10.4 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, .493 FG%, 3.5 PF

    Charles Oakley started nearly every game beside Patrick Ewing for a decade at the power forward position, supplying the Knicks with a no-layups enforcing front line and the ability to score. 

    Oak spent the entirety of his prime playing at MSG, and was around for the peak of the franchise's '90s Finals runs. He ranks 13th all time on the Knicks rebounding leaderboard, and just nine qualified players in the team's history have both higher rebounding and scoring averages in their tenures.

    The formidable teams of the 1990s wouldn't have made as much noise—figuratively and literally—in the East without Oakley. He was in the nucleus of a mainstay for the late rounds of the playoffs, earning him a spot at No. 11 on the list of best Knicks ever.

10. Allan Houston

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    1996-2005 Stats: 18.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, .444 FG%, .399 3P%

    In the grand scheme of the Knicks franchise history, Allan Houston is probably one of the more underrated men to wear the blue and orange.

    Much was made of the ridiculous $100 million contract Houston signed in 2001, and his subsequent early retirement that was forced by chronic knee issues. But before all that, there was a great, productive career to take notice of.

    Houston was one of the purest shooters the Knicks have depended on in recent memory. From 1997-2001, he shot 49 percent from the field, 40 percent from the arc and 86 percent from the free-throw line.

    One of the Knicks' most memorable moments of the last few decades came at the hands of Houston, when he sank a running jumper to knock off the No. 1-seeded Miami Heat. It was as if the normally stoic Houston released a career's worth of bottled emotion after the shot, as he fist-pumped the Knicks to victory.

     

9. Mark Jackson

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    1987-1992, 2000-2002 Stats: 11.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 8.0 APG, 1.4 SPG, .456 FG%, .319 3P%

    The Knicks franchise hasn't exactly been rich at the point guard position, but Mark Jackson was one of the gems.

    The local Brooklyn product out of St. John's was drafted in the first round by the Knicks in 1987. He was immediately thrown into the New York fire, starting 80 games that first season and earning Rookie of the Year honors. Jackson averaged a double-double at 13 and 10.

    Under head coach Rick Pitino, Jackson thrived. After Pitino left New York following Jackson's sophomore season, however, things weren't quite the same. Under Stu Jackson, the point guard was playing significantly fewer minutes and showing his first signs of NBA struggle.

    Jackson went from averaging 15.1 points, 9.7 assists and 4.8 rebounds through his first two Knicks years to a respectable but diminished 10 points, 7.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds in his last three seasons at the Garden.

    Jackson then spent the duration of his prime with a variety of teams as the Knicks chased the elusive title that never did come.

    In 2000, at 35, Jackson poetically returned to the franchise that drafted him after stops with five other clubs. At the opposite end of his career arc, Jackson averaged eight points and eight assists for the 21st century Knicks, while starting all but two games combined in two seasons.

    Jackson is now making a name for himself as a head coach with the Golden State Warriors, who appear to be a new mainstay in Western Conference postseason play.

8. Bill Bradley

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    1967-1977 Stats: 12.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.7 SPG, .448 FG%

    "Dollar" Bill Bradley (yes, the nicknames were much better then) played the entirety of his 10-year career in New York, and was around for both banner-raising seasons.

    From 1968-1976, Bradley averaged 14 points on 45 percent shooting. He also added three rebounds and four assists on average. 

    "Dollar Bill" was a Rhodes scholar and attended Oxford University for two seasons in between his college and pro hoops careers. After his playing career ended, Bradley served as a U.S. senator from 1979 to 1997. He unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic presidential bid in 2000.

    Clearly, Bradley's expertise extends beyond the game of basketball. Guys as bright as this Missouri native don't exactly grow on trees, so he's a fine choice for the eighth-best Knick of all time. His All-Star talent doesn't hurt, either.

7. Carmelo Anthony

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    2011-2013 Stats: 25.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.2 APG, .441 FG%, .376 3P%

    Carmelo Anthony is the best player the Knicks have called their own since the turn of the millenium. With a few more winning seasons, and a new contract, he may find himself a few spots higher on this list. 

    In less than two full seasons worth of games as a Knick, Anthony has already cemented himself as one of the greatest to play for the Garden faithful. When it's all said and done, 'Melo may go down as one of the best to ever do it—regardless the team.

    To this point, Anthony's Knicks tenure is devoid of the playoff success fans had hoped for. This past season, however, was a glimpse at what could happen under the right system. For a while, it seemed as if the 2012-13 Knicks—and more importantly, 'Melo individually—had what it took to knock off the Miami Heat and get to the Finals. Unfortunately, that's not the way things played out.

    But with a scoring title under his belt, his personal ability is no longer in question. Anthony now needs to show that he can lead a collective unit to the ultimate goal. 

    And if he does, you'll likely find him closer to the top of this list in future versions.

6. Bernard King

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    1983-1987 Stats: 26.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, .543 FG%

    Bernard King logged just 138 games in a New York uniform, but nearly each one was unforgettable to Knicks fans. 

    In January 1984, King became the first NBA player to log back-to-back 50-point games, on 20-of-23 and 20-of-28 shooting, respectively. On Christmas Day the next season, King dropped 60 points on the New Jersey Nets.

    King's 1984-85 season was the most exciting scoring exhibition the franchise has seen. His 32.9 points per game are the most any Knick has averaged in a season to date. 

    Unfortunately for King and the Knicks, that season was cut short after just 55 games. King tore his ACL in March 1985, and aside from six games the next season that was the last New York ever saw of King. The legend was cut short before it even started.

5. Dave DeBusschere

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    1968-1974 Stats: 16.0 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 0.9 SPG, .439 FG%

    Although he stood at just 6'6", Dave DeBusschere towered over opponents on the glass. He averaged 11 rebounds for his 12-year career, and just a shade under that mark during his Knicks tenure. 

    New York acquired DeBusschere during the 1968-69 season, in time for their championship run a year later. It was toward the twilight of the Michigan native's career, but the numbers hardly let it show. 

    DeBusschere averaged at least 15.4 points and 10.2 rebounds in each of his last four seasons as a Knick. His field goal percentage increased in each of those final four campaigns, and the Knicks won their only two titles with DeBusschere manning the boards.

4. Earl Monroe

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    1972-1980 Stats: 16.2 PPG, 3.5 APG, 2.6 RPG, 1.0 SPG, .478 FG%

    Earl "The Pearl" Monroe manned the off-guard for the Knicks in their second championship season beside Clyde Frazier, and averaged 15 points on 49 percent shooting in 1972-73.

    Monroe was dealt to New York after four seasons as a Baltimore Bullet. With New York, he put up fewer shots on average thanks to the prowess surrounding him, but posted the highest field goal percentages of his career.

    The Pearl's legacy was cut short in 1980 due to knee issues, and the league hasn't seen a player quite like him since. The backcourt duo of Monroe and Frazier rests in history as one of the best to ever collaborate, but undoubtedly the most vivacious. 

3. Willis Reed

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    1964-1974 Stats: 18.7 PPG, 12.9 RPG, 1.8 APG, .476 FG% (blocks weren't recorded until 1973)

    Of course you're aware of the legendary tale. Game 7. The Tunnel. The first two buckets. But there's so much more to Willis Reed's Knicks career than one hobbled game. 

    We can't let the storybook tale take precedence over Reed's career as a whole. Over his 10 seasons as an NBA center (all as a Knick), he averaged a double-double in his first seven campaigns. Various injuries ended Reed's career prematurely—he was only 31 years old during his last NBA season—but Reed averaged 19 points and 13 rebounds over a decade.

    Through his first seven tries, those averages were 20 and 14. Reed was a seven-time All-Star, and his No. 19 can be spotted atop the MSG rafters.

2. Walt Frazier

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    1968-1977 Stats: 19.3 PPG, 6.3 APG, 6.1 RPG, 2.0 SPG, .492 FG%

    No decision was easy in crafting this list of all-time Knicks greats, but Walt Frazier is, without a doubt, the greatest point guard the franchise has ever employed.

    Clyde, now known for his poetic color commentary and snazzy courtside apparel, was once responsible for dishing and swishing himself. 

    In the Knicks championship 1969-70 season, Frazier's third NBA campaign, the point guard out of Southern Illinois averaged 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds over 77 games. Not that anybody knew it at the time, but Clyde's PER was 21.1.

    Frazier's defining moment as a Knick rests in the shadow of a greater narrative. In Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers—the game memorialized by Willis Reed's dramatic entrance through the Garden tunnels—it was Clyde who stole the show, and won the title. He scored 36, dished 19 assists and grabbed seven boards, as the Knicks won their first NBA Finals in franchise history. 

1. Patrick Ewing

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    1985-2000 Stats: 22.8 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.0 SPG, 2.7 BPG, .508 FG%

    We're closing in on 70 years of franchise history, and Patrick Ewing remains the best of all 424 men to call themselves New York Knicks.

    Ewing was one of several victims in the Michael Jordan era of basketball. He never did earn that coveted championship, but that's not to say he wasn't close.

    Ewing's Knicks reached the 1994 Finals, and lined up against Hakeem Olajuwon's Houston Rockets. The Knicks dropped that series in seven games, losing the final game in Houston, 90-84. 

    The Knicks returned to the Finals in the wane of Ewing's career for the 1999 series against the San Antonio Spurs. Those Knicks were the first eighth seed to reach the postseason's final round, but fell in five games. Ewing was hobbled due to injuries, and was unable to suit up for the Finals.

    Nonetheless, the 7-footer from Georgetown holds nearly every important Knicks record in the book. Ewing logged the most points, blocks, rebounds, steals, free throws, field goals and minutes of every Knick in history.

    The numbers speak for themselves; Ewing is the best Knick ever.

     

    Follow me on Twitter at @JSDorn6.