New York Knicks Patrick Ewing
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

What if we used our extra free time and drafted a team consisting of the best New York Knicks draft picks?

Josh Benjamin

The New York Knicks are no strangers to the NBA Draft.

It’s an important part of any team’s success. Even in this age of free agency and trades, it’s rare for a contending team to not prominently feature homegrown talent.

And as any true Knicks fan knows, the team has a strained relationship with the draft. Sometimes, management has just made a horribly bad pick. More recently, fans have just been grateful for New York to even have a pick. Some draft selections haven’t even stayed long enough, getting traded before they can make an impact in the Big Apple.

In a nutshell, Sylvester and Tweety get along better than the New York Knicks usually do with the NBA draft.

But the fact remains. Even with the Knicks’ spotty draft history, their successful picks really did leave their mark at Madison Square Garden.

Seeing as how the season is still suspended, let’s build a starting lineup of the best New York selections.

Point guard: Walt “Clyde” Frazier

Before he was a rock star on commentary with gloriously wacky suits, Walt Frazier was a star point guard for the Knicks. New York drafted him out of Southern Illinois with the fifth pick in 1967, and a dynasty was born.

Frazier led the Knicks to a championship just three years later and spent a decade wearing the orange and blue. He added a second ring to his collection in 1973 and was also a seven-time All-Star.

Frazier averaged 19.3 points and 6.3 assists per game during his New York Knicks tenure and was also an excellent defender in his prime. Fans’ hearts were collectively broken when he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He retired three years later.

Throw in that the Knicks haven’t drafted a comparable point guard since Frazier, and his spot on this team is safe.

Shooting guard: Richie Guerin

Richie Guerin’s path to the Knicks wasn’t exactly conventional. New York made the Bronx native a second-round pick out of Iona in 1954. However, he then served two years in the Marines.

Guerin suited up in 1956 and though he wasn’t on the best Knicks teams, he himself was fun to watch. He averaged 20.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game in his first seven seasons. Two games into his eighth, the Knicks traded him to the St. Louis Hawks for cash and a draft pick.

Guerin spent six more years playing for the Hawks but also coached them at the same time. In eight years, he posted a record of 327-291 and never missed the playoffs.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013 and though he wasn’t the best Knick, he got the job done as a shooting guard.

Small forward: Bill Bradley

Like Guerin, Bradley also had an unconventional path to the New York Knicks. He was a territorial pick out of Princeton in 1965, but Bradley first spent two years at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He also played in Italy for one of those years.

Bill Bradley then returned to New York and spent ten years with the Knicks. He won two rings and was an All-Star in 1973. He retired in 1977 and two years later, he was elected to the U.S. Senate to represent New Jersey. Bradley served three terms and unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2000.

He only posted 12.4 points per game for his career, but Bradley just had a knack for playing smart basketball. He wasn’t ever a New York Knicks star, but remains the team’s best drafted small forward until R.J. Barrett usurps him.

Power forward: David Lee

No New York Knicks fan expected David Lee to succeed as much as he did in New York. He played four years at Florida and was effective, but not necessarily a superstar. Thus, when the Knicks used the 30th pick on him in 2005, no one really said boo. If anything, Lee would be solid interior depth.

Instead, Knicks fans got a borderline franchise player during some dark times. Lee had a quiet rookie season and then became an absolute double-double machine in New York. He averaged 13 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in a Knicks uniform and averaged a double-double in three of five seasons. Per 36 minutes, he averaged 15.5 points and 11.5 boards as a Knick.

Lee then moved on to the Golden State Warriors and also spent time with the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs. He retired in 2017 as a two-time All-Star with a championship ring.

Like Richie Guerin, Lee had the unfortunate luck of playing on some truly bad New York Knicks teams. The good news is despite that, he made the games loads of fun to watch.

Center: Patrick Ewing

You were expecting maybe someone else? OK, fine, Willis Reed could also be this team’s starting center. After all, he ended his career with two championship rings to Ewing’s zero.

Still, Patrick Ewing arrived in New York and helped set the tone for the dominant New York Knicks of the ’90s. He was a star at Georgetown and won the Hoyas a national title in 1984. A year later, the Knicks made him the first overall pick in the NBA Draft. That too is an interesting story, but for another time.

The rest, as they say, is history. Ewing was an 11-time All-Star in 15 years with the Knicks. He averaged 22.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, and even 2.7 blocks over that stretch. Were it not for the Knicks sharing the Eastern Conference with the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls, perhaps he would have won a ring.

Either way, it’s hard to argue against Ewing as the New York Knicks’ best-drafted center.

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