The New York Knicks have been one of the more troubled franchises for a long time. The advantages they have as far as being one of the more financially viable teams and playing in one of the largest media markets in the world have not been used to their fullest. There have been many problems keeping the Knicks from success: unstable coaching, inconsistent player performance, front office indecision, and more. But, one thing that stands out is the Knicks lack of ability to get good players through the draft. Here we’ll look at the last ten years of New York Knicks draft picks.
The 1998 NBA Draft had the Knicks using two second round picks, the first on forward DeMarco Johnson from UNC-Charlotte and the second on center Sean Marks from New Zealand by way of the University of California. Johnson’s NBA career lasted all of five games, while Marks has served the last ten years as a journeyman backup center for four different teams, never averaging more than 4.6 points a game.
In 1999, the Knicks used the 15th overall pick to select 7’2″ European center Frederic Weis. Weis would never sign or suit up for the Knicks, nor any other NBA team. Their second round pick that year was used on J.R. Koch out of the University of Iowa, who also never played for the Knicks.
The 2000 draft once again saw the Knicks with no first round pick. They used their second round pick on Lavor Postell, a guard from St. John’s who only played three seasons in the league.
Neither of the two picks made by the New York Knicks in the 2001 NBA Draft ever played in official games in the league. That year they had chosen Michael Wright out of the University of Arizona and Eric Chenowith out of the University of Kansas, both with second round picks.
The Knicks had the 7th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft and used it on a player that became a solid contributor… for another team. They chose Nene Hilario out of Brazil and promptly packaged him in a trade with the Denver Nuggets that brought back forward Antonio McDyess. McDyess’ time with the Knicks was noticeably unspectacular. The Knicks also chose Milos Vujanic a center from Serbia in the second round of the 2002 draft, he would never play in the NBA.
The Knicks came into the 2003 NBA Draft armed with three picks: the ninth overall pick of the first round, the first pick in the second round, and the tenth pick in the second round. Three of the first 39 draft picks belonged to the New York Knicks. The two second round picks were used on European basketball players that played a combined 65 games in the NBA (64 of them by Maciej Lampe and one by Slavko Vranes), and none of them for the Knicks. Their first round pick was used on Mike Sweetney, a forward from Georgetown, who would average 4.3 points per game and then 8.4 points per game in his only two seasons with the Knicks.
Trevor Ariza, a forward from UCLA, was the Knicks only draft pick in 2004. He was drafted in the second round and would go on to play a little more than one season in New York before moving on to other NBA teams.
Again the Knicks would come into the draft with three picks in 2005, this time two first rounders (the 8th and 30th picks) and one second rounder. They used the 8th overall pick on highly touted forward-center Channing Frye out of the University of Arizona. Frye would disappoint many Knicks fans that had higher expectations and after two seasons would move on to play for Portland. With the second of their two first round picks, the Knicks would select forward David Lee out of the University of Florida. Lee is currently still with the Knicks and has been a solid contributing player. Their second round pick that year would be used on guard Dijon Thompson out of UCLA who would play a total of 16 games in two seasons, none with the Knicks.
The 2006 NBA Draft saw the Knicks the owners of two first round picks. Their first was used on forward Renaldo Balkman out of the University of South Carolina. Balkman would prove to be a serviceable backup but never average more than 4.9 points per game. Their second pick in the first round that year would be used on Mardy Collins, a 6’6″ guard from Temple University. Collins would also serve in backup roles during his first two seasons with the team.
With only one pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, the Knicks would use their first round selection on Wilson Chandler, a forward out of DePaul University. In his rookie season with the Knicks he would only play in 35 games.
Free agents and players acquired in trades can be a shot in the arm to an NBA franchise. But for a team to compete and field repeatedly competitive teams, they must draft players successfully. In the last ten years the New York Knicks have failed to draft one player that would become a regular starter, at least on their team. This failure has lead the Knicks to be right where they are today, one of the least respected franchises in the NBA.