How Every Good NY Knicks Draft Pick Ends Poorly

New York Knicks have struggled with the NBA Draft for the last 20 years.

But…

Good news for the Knicks is there have been good picks!
Bad news for the Knicks is they were all traded for poor returns.

The six good picks they have made the last two decades have all left in New York, either on bad terms or in bad deals.

Kristaps Porzingis (2015, #4)

Why it was good: Porzingis played 186 games in three years, scoring 17.8 ppg. In 2018, he was named to his first All Star Game.

After the usual boos and disappointment from draft night, fans quickly began falling in love with Porzingis for his ability to shoot and get to the basket. Porzingis’ rise came as Carmelo Anthony was looking for a way out, so it was a seamless transition for him to become the face of the franchise.

How it ended: Shortly after being named to the All Star team in 2018, Porzingis suffered a torn ACL. At the end of that season, Porzingis reportedly blew off his exit interview with Phil Jackson.

From there, he had a rocky relationship with the front office and despite being the Knicks best draft pick in three decades, he was traded in late January.

He was traded January 31, 2019 for cap space, two first round draft picks, and Dennis Smith Jr. Smith Jr was the guy that Knicks passed over in 2018, draft picks were nice, but the big win was the salary cap space they received, for trading Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway Jr. The cap space was freed up to sign Keven Durant and Kyrie Irving. Except they didn’t. They signed Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Marcus Morris, and a bunch of veterans who took away valuable playing time for youngsters.

Porzingis left NY having never been part of a team that didn’t lose 50 or more games.

Iman Shumpert (2011, #17)

Why it was good: The most exciting part of Iman Shumpert’s tenure with the Knicks was this song.

Why it was bad: Shumpert was taken 2 picks after Kawhi Leonard, 1 pick after 2019 All Star Nikola Vucevic and 2 picks before Long Island native Tobias Harris.

Shumpert came out strong as a rookie, flashing an amazing dunking ability and was a strong defender. But during a playoff game in 2012, during his rookie season, he tore his ACL. That kept him out until January 2013 and when he returned, it was clear the injury sapped some of his athleticism as he wasn’t the same player.

In 2015, Shumpert was traded to Cleveland with JR Smith in return for Lance Thomas, a second round pick and other minor parts.

Danilo Gallinari (2008, #6)

Why it was good: Gallo showed potential in NY. He was a similar player to Porzingis, many years earlier – stretch four big man, with the ability to shoot but also athleticism.

Why it was bad: There was disappointment that the Knicks drafted an unknown Euro (sound familiar?) over established Indiana U guard Eric Gordon (who was picked #7). That disappointment grew as Gallinari played only 28 games as a rookie due to a bad back.

The two picks right ahead of Gallinari? Russell Westbrook (4) and Kevin Love (5). More bad luck for the Knicks.

In 2009-10, Gallinari broke out in a big way, scoring 15.1 ppg, shooting 42% from the field. He missed only 1 game, while playing nearly 34 minutes per game.

He played roughly 34 mpg again the next season, scoring 15.6 ppg but was part of the trade package that landed Carmelo Anthony in NY.

Gallinari has emerged into a valuable player (career average of 16 ppg), but just never got the chance to get going with the Knicks.

Wilson Chandler (2007, #23)

Details: Knicks and Bulls swapped picks as part of the final terms of the Eddy Curry trade in 2005. Bulls picked Joakim Noah #9 and Chandler went to the Knicks at #23.

Why it was good: Chandler spent 3.5 seasons in NY. After playing just 35 games as a rookie, he played all 82 in year two and averaged over 33 minutes per game from 2008 on.

His final Knicks numbers – 14 ppg, 5.2 rpg. He became a valuable rotational piece as both a starter and in a bench role.

Why it was bad: At the risk of being repetitive, let’s save the specific details – he was part of the Carmelo Anthony trade (seems like everyone on this list was).

Nate Robinson (2005, #21)

Details: Robinson was officially drafted by the Suns and traded on draft night, along with Quentin Richardson for Kurt Thomas and a second round pick (Dijon Thompson)

Why it was good: Robinson was electric! He mostly came off the bench throughout his Knicks career and energized The Garden. He is also the league’s only 3-time Slam Dunk Contest Champion.

How it ended: A recurring theme continues – Robinson clashed with Mike D’Antoni in 2009 and was in-and-out of the rotation. Five days after winning his third dunk contest in February 2010, he was traded to the Celtics for Eddie House, Bill Walker, and JR Giddens. Robinson played a key role off the bench in the 2010 NBA Finals, which the Celtics lost.

David Lee (2005, #30)

Details: In February 2005, Knicks acquired this pick from the Spurs (initially the Suns) as part of a deal to acquire Malik Rose in exchange for Nazr Mohammed and Jamison Brewer (they also received a 2006 first round pick, which became Mardy Collins).

Why it was good: David Lee is the only draft pick in the last 20 years to actually play in the All Star Game (Porzingis made it in 2018, but he was hurt).

In five full seasons with the Knicks, Lee averaged 13.0 ppg and 9.6 rpg. During his All Star season in 2010, Lee averaged 20.2 ppg and 11.7 rpg. He missed a total of just 3 games over his last three seasons. Lee became known for his reliability, consistency, and his rebounding ability.

Why it was bad: In 2010, after striking out on Lebron James and settling for Amare Stoudemire in free agency, Lee was traded to the Warriors in a sign-and-trade deal for Ronny Turiaf, Anthony Randolph, and Kelena Azubuike. Those three guys played a combined 81 games with the Knicks.

Lee would go on to have an All Star season in 2013 and was NBA Champion in 2015.


Part 1Trades the Knicks regret involving first round picks

Part 2Players who spent two years or less on Knicks

Mike is a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) and an alum of the University of Cincinnati.

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