New York Knicks: 15 greatest draft steals in franchise history

Landry Fields, Wilson Chandler, New York Knicks. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Landry Fields, Wilson Chandler, New York Knicks. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Richie Guerin, New York Knicks
(Original Caption) New York, New York: Hoops One. Richie Guerin, of the Knicks, gets away from Warriors’ Tom Gola to take a shot in first quarter. It was good. New Yorkers never trailed the Philadelphians, winning 115-108 in nationally televised tilt at Garden. /

The NBA of the 1950s and the 1960s was not the most prosperous era for the game of basketball. The league was small, the players less skilled and the overall competition lacking quite a bit. It was a time dominated by statistical giants like Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, yet a diminutive 6-foot-4 guard managed to carve out quite an impressive career around the same time.

The Knicks selected Richie Guerin with the second-to-last pick of the second round. This was at a time where each round was comprised of just nine selections, but it was clear given where he ended up being selected that he was not a hot commodity coming out of college.

At Iona College, Guerin filled up the scoring column as a prototypical two-guard, averaging 19.9 points per game, including 24.7 during his junior and final collegiate season. He struggled to acclimate himself to the pros as a rookie, but wound up developing into one of the best offensive weapons in the league soon after.

His sophomore campaign would begin a string of six consecutive NBA All-Star Games, which also included three appearances on the All-NBA Second Team. He increased his scoring average in five of those six seasons all the way up to 29.5 a night in 1961-62. He also was a terrific passer at his position, averaging a minimum of five assists a night in five straight campaigns.

Overall, Guerin put up a well-rounded 20.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.3 assists in seven seasons in New York before being dealt to the Atlanta Hawks less than three games into the 1963-64 season.

He would be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013, an underrated star of the game whose outstanding career just so happened to coincide with a few of the all-time pantheon legends overshadowing him.