For a franchise as steeped in tradition in the Knicks it was hard to do an all-time list for this team. Mixed in with the good years of the team there were terrible stretches in Knicks history where the team struggled to make the playoffs. The team still does boast an array of Hall of Famers and All-Stars to match most teams. The most important criteria in the ranking were championship success along with team success. Longevity was a key factor in compiling this list, without it Bernard King would have been higher, and Carmelo Anthony would be on list.
1. Walt Frazier (1967-1977)
Seven time All-Star and key player on only two Knicks championship teams. One of the premiere defensive guards in NBA history named to All-Defense 1st team seven times. Frazier’s number 10 jersey was retired by franchise.
Best Season 1971-72. Frazier averaged a career high 23.2 points per game this season to go along with 6.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. Frazier made both the All-NBA 1st team as well as All Defensive 1st team. Frazier led team all the way to the NBA Finals despite team playing most of season without team captain Willis Reed.
2. Patrick Ewing (1985-2000)
Dominant Knick star from mid-80’s to 90’s. Nine time All-Star, leading scorer and rebounder in franchise history. If he had won a title, Ewing would be 1st on list. Ewing’s number 33 was retired by franchise.
Best season 1989-90. Ewing in 1990 was in his physical prime before injuries started to take away from parts of his game. Averaged an impressive 28.6 points per game this season and made his only All NBA 1st team. Ewing was even more impressive in the playoffs as he led the Knicks from a 2-0 deficit to eliminate Larry Bird‘s Celtics in the 1st round. Ewing averaged 36.0 points per game in the Knicks victories in series.
3. Willis Reed (1964-74)
Reed was the Captain and the leader of the Knicks two championship teams. Reed is to this day the only player in Knicks history to win regular season and Finals MVP. Had strong possibility to be first on list but had career cut short by injuries. Reed’s number 19 was retired by franchise.
Best Season 1969-70. Reed became the 1st player to win MVP, All-Star Game MVP, and Finals MVP all in the same year. 1970 season is also remembered by Knicks fans for Reed’s courageous return in Game 7 of NBA Finals after serious thigh injury.
4. Dave Debusschere (1968-1974)
Dave was the starting power forward on two Knicks title teams. Debusschere’s acquisition by Knicks in 1969 was seen as final addition to Knicks championship puzzle. Debusschere made the All-Defensive 1st team every year he was a Knick. Debusschere’s number 22 was retired by franchise.
Best season 1972-73. Remarkably consistent every year he was a Knick. 1973 season saw him make All-Star and All-Defensive 1st team. Averaged 16.3 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game on championship team.
5. Earl Monroe (1971-1980)
Starting Guard on 1973 Knicks title team. Monroe made his reputation as a flashy scorer with Baltimore before coming to Knicks via trade. Monroe subverted his individual play to the Knicks team approach and would carry franchise in lean years post Willis Reed era. Monroe’s number 15 was retired by franchise.
Best Season 1974-75. 1975 season saw the Knick era of Dave Debusschere and Willis Reed come to an end. Monroe stepped up his play and averaged 20.9 points per game and 3.5 assists per game. Monroe made his 1st All-Star appearance as a Knick in 1975.
6. Bill Bradley (1968-1977)
Integral part of 2 Knicks championship teams. Never lived up to the hype that preceded his coming out of Princeton and signing big money contract with Knicks. Bradley was one time All-Star during his career. Bradley’s number 24 was retired by franchise.
Best Season 1972-73. 1973 season saw Bradley reach career high averages for points and assists per game with 16.1 ppg and 4.5 apg. Bradley made his 1st All-Star apperance in ’73 and helped Knicks win second title.
7. Bernard King (1982-1987)
Played just 4 seasons with Knicks and run was cut short due to career threatening knee injury. Despite injury had a spectacular run with Knicks including 1984 season where he finished 2nd in MVP voting and took eventual champion Celtics to 7 game series. King was a 2 time All-Star during his Knicks tenure.
Best Season 1983-84. King finished second in MVP voting while averaging 26.3 points per game and 5.1 rebounds per game. King had a memorable first round in playoffs against Detroit Pistons. In Game 5 of series against Pistons, King scored 44 points despite playing with dislocated fingers and being weakened from the flu.
8. Dick McGuire (1949-1957)
Was a key player on perennial contending Knicks teams of early 1950’s. Along with Bob Cousy was one of the premiere point guards of NBA during 1950’s. 5 time All-Star during his Knicks tenure. McGuire’s number 15 hangs in rafters of Madison Square Garden.
Best Season 1951-52. Never much of a scorer McGuire averaged a career high 9.2 points per game and shot career high 43% from the field. McGuire led team all the way to Game 7 of NBA finals before falling to George Mikan‘s Lakers.
9. Richie Guerin (1956-1963)
Made 6 All-Star teams starring for Knicks during lean years of the late 1950’s-early 1960’s. High scoring guard, who made 3 All-NBA second teams during Knicks tenure.
Best Season 1961-62. Guerin averaged 29.5 points per game to go along with 6.9 assists and 6.4 assists per game. Guerin’s spectacular season earned him a spot on the NBA All 2nd team.
10. Allan Houston (1996-2005)
Beloved Knicks player who provided one of the most iconic moments in Knicks history with basket that eliminated #1 seed Miami in 1999. Made 2 All-Star appearances during tenure with Knicks, and early retirement due to knee injuries foreshadowed downfall of Knicks during the 00’s.
Best Season 1998-99. Houston had other years with the Knicks where he put up bigger numbers than ’99. The ’99 season lives on in the heart of all Knicks fan for his inspired playoffs performance. Houston was a catalyst on the only number eight seed to ever advance to the NBA finals and that’s enough to qualify it as his best Knicks year.
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