There have been a few ups and downs for the New York Knicks over the last 28 years. Here are the best 28 players from this era.
It’s the 75th NBA Anniversary season, but this writer has only been alive for 28 years. In honor of this historical season, I figured it was only right to put together a list of the greatest New York Knicks of all time.
After some reflection, it didn’t feel right to go all the way back to the days of Carl Braun and Harry Gallatin. Sure, I know that guys like Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Bernard King, Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere, and others should be near the top of the list, but I never had a chance to see those guys play.
Instead of going all the back to the beginning, I’m going back to the beginning for me — 1993 (I’m getting old). So, without further adieu, here are the 28 best Knicks of the last 28 years. I factored in individual stats, impact on winning, longevity, peak seasons, and whether or not each player lived up to expectations in these rankings.
Feel free to disagree — these lists are always subjective.
28. Jeremy Lin
If you blinked, you might have missed Jeremy Lin’s career as a Knick. It was only 35 short games, but Linsanity is forever. Over an eight-game stretch during the 2011-12 season, Lin averaged 25.0 points and 9.2 assists per game. New York was 8-1 during that span.
27. Eddy Curry
Eddy Curry is synonymous with the Isiah Thomas era for all the wrong reasons. The Knicks “gave up the farm” to get Curry from the Bulls and he was an overall disappointment. However, he put together three productive seasons in orange and blue.
26. Zach Randolph
After making his mark with the Grizzlies, it’s easy to forget that Zach Randolph was a Knick at one point in time. He averaged a double-double in his 80 career games for the Knicks.
25. Derrick Rose
Check back in a year or two to see how high Derrick Rose has climbed on this list. His recent resurgence after linking up with Tom Thibodeau could send him even further on this list of beloved Knicks.
24. Ray Felton
If not for the Carmelo Anthony trade, Ray Felton might be higher than 24. Felton was putting up All-Star numbers in the first half of the 2010-11 season. The UNC product was productive in his second stint with the Knicks as well.
23. Wilson Chandler
Mark Wilson Chandler down as another guy who might be higher if not for Carmelo Anthony. One of the key pieces in that Melo deal, Chandler was an exciting young player during his three-plus seasons as a Knick.
22. Nate Robinson
Before Nate Robinson was getting knocked out by YouTubers, he was winning Slam Dunk Contests for the Knicks. But Robinson was more than just a big dunker. He helped bring electricity to MSG during lean years.
21. Jamal Crawford
Jamal Crawford was one of the most beloved players of his generation and although his time with the Knicks was short, it was memorable. Crawford averaged 17.6 points per game in nearly 300 career Knicks games.
20. Mitchell Robinson
Mitchell Robinson is the first current Knick we see, but he won’t be the last. It might feel premature to put Robinson on this list. It’s not. He already has more Knicks games under his belt than a bunch of guys on this list.
It’s also worth noting that Robinson broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record for best field-goal percentage in a single season when he shot 74.2% from the floor in 2019-20. For what it’s worth, Robinson didn’t even know who Wilt was when he broke the record.
19. Charlie Ward
Charlie Ward still holds the title as the last first-round pick the Knicks signed past his rookie contract. He spent 10 solid seasons in New York and is the only Heisman Trophy winner on this list.
18. J.R. Smith
J.R. Smith had one of the most exciting seasons in recent Knicks history when he won the Sixth Man Award in 2012-13. Despite a disappearing act in the playoffs, Smith was beloved during his short stint in New York.
17. Derek Harper
Derek Harper’s tenure with the Knicks came while I was still sleeping in a crib, but his contributions to the 1993-94 team can’t be overlooked. He averaged 16.4 points and 6.0 assists per game during the 1994 NBA Finals
16. Kurt Thomas
Any basketball fans in New York around my age will remember Kurt Thomas. He was a dependable big man who had way more skill than people realized.
15. Kristaps Porzingis
OK, OK, I get it, you all hate this guy. Put your hatred aside for one moment to remember his All-Star season in 2018-19. Kristaps Porzingis averaged 22.7 points on nearly 40% shooting from deep as a 22-year-old big. Who knows what could have been if he stayed healthy.
14. Amar’e Stoudemire
Amar’e Stoudemire’s health couldn’t hold up enough to put him near the top of the list, but we can’t underrate his contributions. Stoudemire signed with the Knicks even before Melo wanted to come to New York. That first half-season with Stoudemire and Felton was one of the most fun Knicks teams in recent memory.
13. Tyson Chandler
The early 2010s Knicks teams aren’t nearly as successful without Tyson Chandler roaming the paint. The 2011-12 Defensive Player of the Year helped anchor the defenses that advanced to the playoffs in three consecutive seasons.
12. Marcus Camby
Speaking of defensive anchors, who could forget Marcus Camby? Although his best years were spent elsewhere, Camby was a key cog on the eighth-seeded Knicks that advanced to the NBA Finals in 1999 and the Eastern Conference Finals in 2000.
11. David Lee
David Lee might be a bit high considering the fact that I grew up as a diehard Florida Gators basketball fan, but he deserves a ton of recognition. A good player on a bad team, Lee was an All-Star on the Knicks in 2010.
10. Stephon Marbury
Love him or hate him, Stephon Marbury is one of the most influential New York basketball players of the last 25 years. Starburys are enough reason alone to put him in the top 10.
9. Larry Johnson
Grandmama will always hold a place in Knicks lore. Even though his numbers dipped after coming to New York from Charlotte, Larry Johnson’s four-point play will live on forever. Shout out to Chris Childs for calming Johnson down before the free throw.
8. Anthony Mason
RIP Mase. There are a few guys who personified the toughness of the 90s Knicks. Anthony Mason is right up there at the top of the list. You can’t fully understand his impact on the organization by looking at a box score. Instead, look at the black eye he gave to his defensive assignment.
7. Julius Randle
Old heads might call this blasphemy, but hear me out. Julius Randle’s 2020-21 season ranks in the top five individual seasons of any Knicks from 1993 to now. He was voted Second Team All-NBA and it looks like he might have a few more tricks up his sleeve before his Knicks career is through.
6. Latrell Sprewell
Latrell Sprewell was a man on a mission in the 1999 Playoffs. Although they fell to the San Antonio Spurs in five games during the 1999 NBA Finals, Sprewell led the team in scoring and nearly kept the Knicks alive with a 35-point, 10-rebound performance in Game 5.
5. John Starks
He’s not the best Knick of the last 28 years, but he’s among the most beloved. John Starks embodied New York. The undrafted, undersized shooting guard was defined by his grit, but he had the talent to match. When talking about Starks, you only need to say two words to Knicks fans: The Dunk.
4. Charles Oakley
Mase and Starks were big parts of New York’s toughness in the 90s, but no one did more in that department than Oak. Charles Oakley was a bruising big man who could record a double-double before throwing fisticuffs in the third quarter. He was the enforcer during one of the NBA’s most physical eras.
3. Allan Houston
Maybe this is a bit biased putting him over Oakley and Starks, but Allan Houston was a bad man. He averaged 18.5 points on 40% three-point shooting in eight years with the Knicks. Houston’s game-winner over Miami in Game 5 is a defining moment in his career.
2. Carmelo Anthony
Although the Knicks never went further than the second round while Carmelo Anthony was on the team, he was an absolute stud for the vast majority of his Knicks career. If not for Melo, the Knicks wouldn’t have a playoff series win in the 21st century. Combine that with his scoring title and Second Team All-NBA nod and this one is a no-brainer. He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer who had some of his best years in New York. Easy call.
1. Patrick Ewing
And the easiest call of them all — Patrick Ewing at No. 1. There can be no debate about this one. No player was more successful or more influential for the Knicks in my lifetime. Feel free to disagree with any other spot on this list, but get your head checked out if you think there is anyone else deserving of the No. 1 spot.