When you review the New York Knickerbockers draft picks over the last decade and a half you realize there are a surprising number of pretty good players that have been chosen by them and you wonder why the team has not managed to perform better then they have. It becomes obvious however when you realize that, unfortunately for the Knicks, the majority of those quality picks are now playing with other teams, which might explain their position in the league hierarchy at the moment.
One player they do still have that is proving to be the real deal is the fourth overall pick from the 2015 NBA Draft, Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis is easily one of the New York Knicks best draft picks in a few decades, possibly the best in the 30 years since New York drafted Patrick Ewing out of Georgetown in 1985. But where do all the other first round draft picks for the New York Knicks rank overall in the last couple of decades.
15. Michael Sweetney (9th Overall in 2003)
The New York Knicks picked Michael Sweetney with the ninth overall selection out of Georgetown in the 2003 NBA Draft. Sweetney had been a finalist for the Naismith Award as well as a candidate for the John R. Wooden award after ranking in the top 20 in both scoring and rebounding during his junior year. He spent two years with the Knicks before heading to the Chicago Bulls where weight issues prevented him from playing. He tried to make it on with the Boston Celtics a couple of times in 2009 and 2011 but did not end up being signed. Since then he has played for teams in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Uruguay. Among those who were drafted AFTER Sweetney in 2003 that the Knicks could have had are David West, Boris Diaw, or even Kendrick Perkins.
14. John Thomas (25th Overall in 1997)
As a member of the Minnesota Golden Gophers, John Thomas helped lead the team, as its captain, to the 1997 NCAA Final Four. Despite choosing him with the 25th pick in the draft, Thomas was traded with three other players to the Boston Celtics shortly thereafter. He was traded again at the trade deadline to the Toronto Raptors. Thomas only lasted two years in Toronto before hitting the international circuit with appearances in the Dominican Republic, Spain, and China as well as the NBA D-League. He made his way back to the NBA for the Timberwolves and also played for the Grizzlies, Hawks, and Nets before slipping out of the NBA for good. Despite his uneventful career, the Knicks did not miss out on anyone who was drafted later on in that draft which was very top-heavy with Tim Duncan and Chancey Billups going first and third overall and no real big names after Tracy McGrady, who went ninth.
13. Donnell Harvey (22nd Overall in 2000)
After a stellar high school career which included being named a McDonald’s All-American and winning the Naismith Award as the top high schooler in the nation in 1999, Donnell Harvey made his way to the University of Florida to play for Billy Donovan. In his only year in Florida, Harvey helped the Gators advance to the Final Four where they eventually lost in the Championship game to the Michigan State Spartans. Harvey declared for the draft and was selected with the 22nd pick by the Knicks who quickly packaged him in a trade to the Dallas Mavericks. The following year he was sent to the Denver Nuggets and eventually joined the Orlando Magic, the Phoenix Suns, and the D-League Sioux Falls Skyforce before ending up playing internationally in Greece, Turkey, Italy, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and China.
12. Mardy Collins (29th Overall in 2006)
A two time All-Conference selection while playing at Temple University, Mardy Collins was known as a solid defender when the Knickerbockers drafted him with the 29th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. He averaged 4.5 points and 2.0 rebounds in 52 games played as a rookie. The biggest highlights of the season were a 19 point, 12 rebound, eight assist game against the Bucks, and in a game against the Nuggets a hard foul on JR Smith sparked a brawl that lead to 10 players being tossed and a six game suspension for Collins. After two years with the Knicks, Collins was shipped to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2008 where he lasted a couple of seasons before slipping out of the league. He continued his career internationally in Turkey, Venezuala, Italy, Greece, and Poland.
11. Renaldo Balkman (20th Overall in 2006)
The Knicks drafted Renaldo Balkman out of the University of South Carolina with the 20th overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. Balkman had been a relative unknown in college and had not even been recruited in high school. Nevertheless he became a surprise first round pick. Once with the Knicks he showed potential playing 15 minutes per game and bringing an energy that the crowd loved. He eagerly took up the challenge of defending shooting guards, forwards, and centers depending on where he was needed most that night. His hustle on the court won him many fans but his offensive game, including his shooting, held him back. After his sophomore season Balkman was traded to the Nuggets, but he returned to New York a few years later in the Carmelo Anthony trade and has since spent time in a variety of Latin American leagues. The Knicks missed out on Rajon Rondo who was drafted with the next pick in 2006 and Kyle Lowry who went three picks later.