Knicks Draft History: Connections to 2021 Picks

Nate Robinson #2 of the New York Knicks celebrates his third win with the Champions Trophy after the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday Night, part of 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend, at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, on February 13, 2010. AFP PHOTO/Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

After a surprising run to the playoffs in 2021, the New York Knicks are set up nicely to add some more pieces this summer. It starts with the Draft, as the Knicks have 4 total picks, including two in the first round (19 and 21).

Can the Knicks draft an All Star caliber player, or at least a role player that can contribute in a playoff rotation?

I take a look back at history and identify some of the best players drafted at these spots and also the ones who have history with the Knicks.

History of #19

Saddiq Bey (2020)

Bey is a sensitive subject around NY. He made All-Rookie First team in 2021, over Knicks PG Immanuel Quickly.

Kevin Huerter (2018) and John Collins (2017)

In the Knicks’ return to the playoffs, they lost in 5 games to the Hawks in the first round. Collins and Heurter, a couple of recent first round picks, played significant roles for the Hawks.

Collins averaged 12.2 ppg and 6.0 rpg, while starting all 5 games. His impact goes well beyond stats though, as he was harassing Julius Randle on defense and really helped set the tone for the Hawks.

In 23.4 mpg, Huerter hit 10-22 threes and shot 48% from the field.

Jerian Grant (2015)

Speaking of the Hawks, they draft Jerian Grant 19th in 2015 and traded him to the Knicks for Tim Hardaway Jr (then, a third year guard). Ironically, Knicks have 2 picks in 2021 because of a trade involving Hardaway Jr.

Grant averaged 5.6 ppg, 2.3 apg in one season in NY and was traded in the summer of 2016 as part of the package of players Knicks sent Chicago for Derrick Rose.

Tobias Harris (2011)

Long Island-born guy, who Knicks passed on to draft Iman Shumpert. Harris is cousins with Channing Frye (mentioned below).

Beyond that, he has no direct ties to the Knicks but is included on this list as he is proof the Knicks can draft a valuable player at #19. Harris has career averages of 16.3 ppg and 6.1 rpg, and averaged 19.5 ppg in 2021.

Zach Randolph (2001)

Z-Bo played parts of 2 seasons. In 80 games, he averaged 18.0 ppg and 10.6 rpg. Knicks acquired him during the 2007 NBA Draft for Steve Francis and Channing Frye (two years after drafting him 8th overall). In 2007, Randolph was traded to the Clippers for Cutino Mobley and Tim Thomas.

Walter McCarty (1996)

The last time the Knicks owned the 19th pick, they drafted Walter McCarty in 1996. He was one of 3 first round picks that year – along with John Wallace and Dontae Jones (below).

In his only year as a Knick, McCarty played 35 games (192 minutes total – 5.5 mpg) and scored a total of 64 points. He was traded in 1997, along with Jones, to the Celtics for veteran Chris Mills.

Kenny Payne (1989)

Current Knicks assistant coach.

Payne was drafted by the 76ers and played 4 seasons (1989-1993). He was a long-time Kentucky assistant coach, before making the leap to the NBA before the 2020-21 season, joining Tom Thibodeau with the Knicks.

Rod Strickland (1988)

Strickland was drafted by the Knicks in 1988, an odd pick given the presence of Mark Jackson, who had won Rookie of the Year in 1988. Early into his second season, Strickland was traded to the Spurs for Maurice Cheeks. He played 132 games with the Knicks, averaging 8.7 ppg and 4.1 apg. For his career, which spanned 1988-2005, he averaged 13.2 ppg, 7.3 apg.

History of #21

Tyrese Maxey (2020)

Maxey was a guy I was hoping would fall to the Knicks last season during the draft. Knicks did well drafting his Kentucky teammate, Immanual Quickly, a few spots later. Maxey did not disappoint and was a key rotation guy for Philly as a defensive stopper and bench scorer.

Terrance Ferguson (2017)

You may not realize this, but Ferguson was a Knick for 10 minutes this season. Knicks acquired him from OKC at the trade deadline, in the deal that sent away Austin Rivers and Ignas Brazdeikis. Ferguson was waived without ever suiting up for the Knicks.

Rajon Rondo (2006)

No Knicks ties specifically, but as a 2x NBA Champion and likely future Hall of Famer, Rondo is worth noting on this list. Knicks, who are in desperate need of a point guard, can find one at #21, as proven by Rondo.

Nate Robinson (2005)

Robinson was drafted by the Suns and he was traded to the Knicks on draft night, along with Quentin Richardson for Kurt Thomas.

Robinson played 4+ seasons in NY, mostly as a reserve, and averaged 12.5 ppg. He was known for two things in his career – his size (5’9) and his dunking (3x Dunk Contest Champion).

After clashing with Mike D’antoni in 2010, he was traded to the Celtics for Eddie House, Bill Walker, and JR Giddens.

Qyntel Woods (2002)

Woods was drafted by the Blazers and only had a 4 year career, with the last season coming with the Knicks in 2005-06. Woods played 49 games (starting 16) for a team that went 23-59 in Larry Brown’s one and only season as Knicks head coach. He averaged career-highs 6.7 ppg and 3.9 rpg with the Knicks.

Dontae’ Jones (1996)

I mentioned Jones briefly above, as he was 1 of 3 first round picks by the Knicks in 1996. A foot injury kept him sidelined during the 96-97 season and he was traded to the Celtics to the previously mentioned Walter McCarty.

Michael Finley (1995)

Finley has no ties to the Knicks, but he had a very successful career with the Mavericks and was recently named their President of Basketball Operations. That means the futures of former Knicks Tim Hardaway Jr and Kristaps Porzingis are in his hands, as well as the future of Luka Doncic, who most Knicks fans would trade loved ones to acquire.

Sly Williams (1979)

Knicks drafted Sly in 1979 and he averaged 11.1 ppg in 4 seasons with the Knicks. He earned the nickname “The Garbage Man” for his toughness and ability to get dirty in grabbing rebounds and play defense.

History of #32

Knicks have picked #32 three times, all in the ’70s – Jesse Clark (1964), Toby Knight (1977), John Rudd (1978)

Steven Novak (2006)

In terms of Knicks’ history, Novak is the only real notable player drafted 32nd. Novak was a key part of the Knicks’ playoff teams in 2012 and 2013, as a sharp shooter off the bench. He hit 45% of his threes and averaged 7.5 ppg. He was traded in the summer of 2013 as part of the AWFUL Andrea Bargnani deal.

History of #58

Knicks have drafted 2 notable players at #58 – Henry Bibby, the father of Mike Bibby in 1972 and Kurt Rambis in 1980. Rambis was 9-19 as Knicks interim head coach during the 2015-16 season. He is a long-time Phil Jackson associate and worked in NY during Phil’s tenure with the Knicks.

Most recently, Knicks drafted Ognjen Jaramaz in 2017. Jaramez won Serbian Cup MVP in 2020 and is unlikely to ever play in the NBA.

Mike is an alum of the University of Cincinnati and the ultimate sports nerd.

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