The New York Knicks, while stumbling and bumbling the last four games, are still holding tight to the sixth playoff slot in the East. They enjoy a five-game lead over playoff pretenders Charlotte and Indiana.
If they maintain their grip, the Knicks will make postseason play for the first time in seven years, thanks in part to Amar'e Stoudemire's bounding and astounding and Raymond Felton's slicing and dicing.
Felton is having a career year, and his impact on the Knicks' play, statline and record can't be underestimated. Sure, Amar'e is having an MVP-like season, but without Felton's swishin' and dishin', both the Knicks and Amar'e would be lookin' a little more Lilliputian.
Felton's scoring average, 17.6, is more than three points higher than his career-best, and five points higher than last year. Amongst guards, he's fifth in the whole league in double-doubles and steals. He's sixth in assists and 10th in efficiency.
If he keeps this up and adds some statistical leadership numbers and playoff appearances to his dossier, one day he might find himself on a slideshow like this: the result of diligently digging through the Knicks' 65 seasons and punching and crunching the numbers, The Top 10 Knicks Guards in History.
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The list attempts to rank both shooting and point guards based on 11 categories. Each player is given a relative score between one (worst) and five (best) for each category, based on their career with the Knicks and disregarding play for any other team.
All players must be primarily guards (no forward-guards, for example) and have played for the Knicks for a minimum of four years.
Here are the categories. The full spreadsheet is available to view on the final slide.
1. Playoff Appearances and Championships
2. Years of Service
3. Offensive Play
4. Defensive Play
5. Hall of Famer
6. Franchise Statistical Leadership
7. Awards / Honors
8. All-Star Appearances
9. League Statistical Leadership
10. Level of Competition
11. Intangibles ("clutchness," leadership, impact on franchise)
Bringing up the rear of the best of the rest:
14. Stephon Marbury was a player with tremendous skill, but other than his big first season with the Knicks (1,781 points, 668 assists), he was a disaster for the franchise.
15. Jamal Crawford had four solid seasons for the Knicks, scoring over 1,000 points each time, including over 1,600 in his last season with the team.
16. Rory Sparrow played well enough to make the also-rans. He averaged over 450 assists in his four-plus years with New York and shot over 45 percent.
And the cream of the best of the rest:
11. Ray Williams scored over 1,700 points in the 1979-80 season, but defense was his game. He's arguably one of the top-five defensive guards in Knicks history.
12. Charlie Ward played nine seasons for New York, most of which during the playoff-rich Ewing years. He was a reliable role player.
13. Greg Anthony is the best bench player on the list. He helped the Knicks make the playoffs in all four of his years on the team
The guard tandem of Ray Williams and Sugar Ray Richardson was one of the most fearsome defensive combos in the league in the early 1980's.
Richardson led the NBA in steals three years in a row. He also scored over 1,250 points three of his four years with the Knicks, shooting over 46 percent each time. In 1979-80, he dished a crazy, league-leading 832 assists.
In six of his nine seasons with New York, Dick Barnett scored over 1,000 points (including 1,700 in his first) and shot over 46 percent from the field.
Barnett has the eighth-most points in Knicks history.
Mark Jackson has the second-most assists all time for the Knicks, recording over 600 four times.
In 1987-88, Jackson was the NBA Rookie of the Year.
He was a critical member of the five Ewing playoff teams.
John Starks beats out Mark Jackson thanks to length of service, playoff contributions and slightly better offensive production.
He's the all-time Knicks leader in three-pointers made. In 1994-95, he led the league with a big-time 217 treys.
In four straight seasons, Richie Guerin scored 1,615, 1,720, 2,303 and 1,701 points. He had over 500 assists four consecutive seasons, as well.
Guerin ranks fifth and sixth all time for the Knicks in assists and points, respectively.
He was All-NBA three times and an All-Star six years in a row.
While with New York, Guerin ranked in the league's top 10 in scoring four times and assists six times.
Allan Houston ranks fourth in scoring in Knicks history, regardless of position.
Without Houston, it's doubtful the Knicks would have made the playoffs in six of the nine seasons he played at the Garden.
He never shot below 41 percent in nine seasons with New York.
Of all Knicks guards, Carl Braun played the longest at the Garden (12 years) and headed to the postseason for 10 of those seasons.
He led New York in scoring seven times, was a five-time All-Star and made the All-NBA second team once.
He ranked in the top 10 in the NBA in the following categories: assists (six times), points (four times), field goals (four times) and points per game (four times).
And now, the Hall of Famers:
On paper, Tricky Dick McGuire didn't sport big numbers, putting up low season totals in points and an average number of assists by today's standards.
But he dominated his era, making the All-Star team seven times and leading the Knicks in assists seven times too.
In eight of his nine Knicks seasons, they went to the playoffs, including three consecutive times to the Finals (1950-1952).
Seven out of eight years, he ranked in the top five in assists league-wide.
Earl "The Pearl" Monroe shot over 45 percent seven years in a row for the Knicks.
He's one of the 50 greatest basketball players of all time.
Monroe scored 23 points in Game 5 of the 1973 NBA Finals, leading the Knicks to a five-game series win over the Lakers.
Did you expect someone else?
Walt Frazier is not only the best guard in Knicks history, but he's arguably the best player to don a New York Knicks uniform. Only Willis Reed and Patrick Ewing can dare to challenge Frazier's legacy.
He led both Knicks championship teams (1970, 1973).
He is the second all-time Knicks scorer, recording over 1,500 points six years in a row. He also has the most assists in team history and is even 10th in steals.
He and Dick McGuire were seven-time All-Stars; Frazier was the 1974-75 All-Star Game MVP.
Walt made the first All-Defensive team seven times while with the Knicks and was All-NBA six times. He was first-team All-Rookie his first year.
When it comes to Knicks guards, it's Clyde and everybody else.
And he's still swooning and crooning at every game.
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Check out the next slide: A snazzy and jazzy Walt Frazier tribute video.
Rankings are from one (worst) to five (best).
For being in the Hall of Fame, player received five points. This turned out to be irrelevant anyway.
"Level of Competition" is an effort to account for different eras.
Intangibles is somewhat subjective and includes clutch play, leadership and team impact, which are important parameters when discussing all-time play.
I broke the ties myself.
Feel free to provide input of your own or your opinions of this ranking and analysis in the comments section below.